Entrepreneurs don’t have it easy. Not only do they have to oversee their own performance, but they have to handle employees and clients as well. Sometimes, the focus can shift from their professional aspirations to personal troubles, hence distracting them from their main task. This often happens when the communication to either employees or clients is not effective. So, what is effective communication? Simply put, effective communication is an exchange that enables you to get the results you are looking for.
The Communication Misconception
There is a common misconception regarding communication. Communication doesn’t simply mean that you have to speak to the employees, prospects and clients. Communication is a two-way process that is incomplete unless you’re willing to listen. As they say, a person has one mouth and a pair of ears, hence you should listen twice as much as you speak. The first thing you need to do to get the desired results is open your ears to both employees and clients/prospects.
You will soon notice what a difference this makes. The clients are certain that their complaints and queries are being handled in the best way possible. Also, the people working for you are satisfied as you are lending an ear to their issues and concerns. When running a business, it is important that you take interest in what the employees think about and the issues and concerns they are facing. Only then can you communicate effectively.
Let’s first look at how you can effectively communicate with your employees. Employees are the lifeblood of any business. Without them, it is impossible to get any work done. They recognize their worth, and you should too. Of course, as an entrepreneur, you have to maintain a certain amount of discipline, but that doesn’t mean you should refrain from praising your employees or offering them a word of guidance when they need it.
Here are 10 effective ways to create a line of communication with your employees:
1. Create an Open Culture
You have to create a work culture in which employees feel welcome to come to you at any time. Keep an open door policy so they don’t feel hesitant about asking you for help, guidance, or advice. After all, you are the person in charge, and there is no one else they can turn to in times of need. You have to make yourself available to them. At the same time, make sure that they don’t come knocking for help with every trivial issue. Set certain boundaries and time constraints.
2. Use Body Language
What you say is important, but your body language can help drive the message home. Sometimes, you need to be stern with employees, and if the work environment is too casual, you’ll have a hard time communicating the messages you want. This is why it is important to learn about specific mannerisms and gestures you can use in any given situation. You can probably find this information in a short YouTube video, as it seems that you can find almost anything on YouTube these days.
3. Ask for Feedback
For any new decision regarding the workplace or business, ask for feedback from your employees. And, don’t just do it as an act of courtesy. Make sure the employees’ feedback is taken into consideration when you are making any final decision. That way, you can encourage employees to speak up if they have any valuable ideas or information which can come in handy for the development of the business. In most cases, employees are more than happy to be subservient and keep to themselves, so encourage feedback, suggestions, and ideas.
4. Criticize and Accept Criticism
Perhaps the most important and effective communication technique you can utilize with your employees is criticism—if you learn how to use it correctly. The best way to go about it is to accept criticism when it comes your way. Only then should you feel justified in criticizing an employee when a situation arises. Entrepreneurs who refrain from offering genuine critiques are likely to create an unproductive work culture. Performance reviews are good places to offer suggestions for improvement as it is then documented.
The bottom-line is that you shouldn’t hold back from praising or criticizing your employees. At the same time, let them speak up and listen to what they have to say. It will do wonders for the work environment and enable you to get the results you are looking for.
5. Convincing Clients
The difference between communicating with employees and clients is that you may have to convince the clients/prospects while you motivate the employees. The fundamental message is the same—you want to get them to do something. However, the methods have to be different. After all, the two groups are listening to you for very different reasons.
6. Have a You-Attitude
All communication you have with your clients should be with a You-attitude. Instead of focusing on how great your business is or the high quality and great prices you offer, speak to them about how they can benefit from using your products/services. Clients love it when businesses empathize with them as it shows that an entrepreneur is expressing genuine interest in their needs and not just trying to sell their products/services.
7. Be Consistent
Regardless of the outcome of your marketing campaign, stay consistent with your communication. If you say one thing, and when it fails you change your stance, the client will identify it and refrain from listening to you ever again. With substitutes easily available to them, they don’t need to stick to a specific brand for a long time. Hence, don’t think that the clients are going to buy from you and you only. You have to continue to earn the business. Consistently walk your talk. When you don’t, people will notice, and that will hurt your business.
8. Don’t Lie
Whatever happens, tell the truth. This is one thing you have to keep at the forefront of your marketing campaign. There are many businesses out there that advertise services they don’t really offer. Obviously, they do this to get as many clients as possible, but your focus should be on communicating what you have to offer to the clients instead of convincing them to buy your products. Let them make that decision for themselves. People respect the truth. They may not always like it, or agree with you, but telling the truth can help attract more clients in the long run.
9. Listen to Them
Like employees, the clients need to be heard. Provide communication channels including phone lines, email, social networks, etc., so they can ask questions or make complaints regarding your products/services. Most of the time, businesses drive away clients by leaving their messages unheard and/or unread. Client support is a key component of success nowadays. Make sure you place the proper emphasis on it, so your clients/prospects feel heard.
10. Focus on Quality Content
Last, but not the least, make sure the content of your messages is valuable to the clients/prospects. There is no need for them to hear about the arduous process of making your product or providing your service. What they want to hear about is how it works and what it can do for them to make their life easier and better. Create a sharp, concise and clear message that highlights all that is good about the benefits (the value) they receive when they do business with your firm. When you do that, there is no way clients can resist.
Communicating effectively with your clients is important to convince them to buy your products and services. If you want your bottom line to improve, and you want to take your business to the next level, work on the way you communicate with the clients/prospects.
You should never underestimate the importance of effective communication. There is hardly any entrepreneur out there who isn’t skilled at communicating well with employees and clients; however, we all can strive to become even better. Review the above tips, and pick one or two to apply, so you can be an even more effective communicator and increase your business success. It isn’t rocket science, and a little effort will enable you to get the results you are looking for.