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We’ve Made Some Changes

Oct. 1, 2021
Don’t overcomplicate your communication practices. In first impressions, the basics still matter

“Things have changed” is my favorite sales pitch. It creates interest and allows you to talk about how your solution addresses those changes, and those three simple words have the ability to overcome the inertia of “We have always done it that way,” and “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Things have changed. The world is more automated and less personal in a lot of ways. And it is time for you to take a step back from that automation and remember when and where the human touch is important. First impressions still matter, whether in person or digitally. Three simple things for you to check and change in your first impressions:

Your business card. When was the last time you looked at your business card? Does it have the best way to reach you? The name you prefer to be called by? Is your title correct? (Bonus points if there is space to jot a short note on the back.) Is your preferred phone number, with extension, on the card?

This recommendation may sound a little extreme in its simplicity, but I recently attended a couple of in-person events and was astonished at how many incorrect business cards I was handed. “Oh my title has changed”; “Our cards don’t have extensions but I’m 123”; or “I prefer Bill.”

If your information has changed, order new cards. They are not an expensive business accessory. Do not make remembering you or contacting you difficult for a prospective customer or business associate. The “know-like-trust factor” is hard to build on partially inaccurate information.

Your LinkedIn profile. On LinkedIn, include your title – rather than a meaningless catch phrase – as well as the company you work for. Include your phone number and an email in the contact information; you can make this information private, accessible to only your connections. Many people use LinkedIn as a digital rolodex – not giving connections a way to contact you is akin to handing over a blank business card.

Make sure that your LinkedIn messages go to an email address you review regularly or that you log in and check messages regularly on LinkedIn. You don’t know what opportunities you are missing! I know someone who hadn’t checked messages in four years and had over a dozen missed requests for work/quotes. (Don’t like the messages you are receiving? Pro-tip: You do not have to accept connection requests from strangers.)

Yes, on Linkedin you are building the brand of you. However, you also are representing who you work for, even when that company is your own. If people don’t know what you do or for whom - they don’t know what you can do to help them. Being clear about what problem you solve and for whom you solve it is critical communication.

Your company phone system. Most modern phone systems operate as Interactive Voice Response aka an automated phone tree – a generic greeting followed by a menu. But, most IVR systems do not account for this era of rich digital information, so by the time someone calls it is likely they have exhausted all the easy possibilities and are frustrated. Callers want to be directed to a solution.

If your IVR simply lists staff names, how would someone inquiring about your product or service determine who to speak with? As one whose name begins with “A” – I can reliably state that callers typically pick the first person in the staff listing, who (regardless of job title) must then play receptionist. If your IVR uses internal jargon or industry terminology, someone unfamiliar with either would be as confused as people unfamiliar with the company. 

To test the user experience (UX) of your IVR, ask a friend to call in and present one of the top three issues callers name when seeking help or information. Listen in and make notes on what happens. Unless your friend has outside prompting or inside knowledge of how the company works, he or she is not likely to find solutions on the IVR.

Additionally, if the company IVR system has a generic voicemail box, make sure it is regularly checked. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I know of such instances with service businesses just in the past six months. As the contact forms on your website should be checked for accuracy every quarter, your IVR and routing should be reviewed at least every 6 months. If customers find it hard to reach you, they will find another solution to their problem.

Technology’s impact on business has been profound, creating immense opportunities. While modern communication options have improved with technology, actual communication still requires the human touch. 

Things have changed but staying in touch still matters. How you choose to stay connected with prospects and customers is a matter of choice; but those choices need not be complicated. To quote Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Alexandria Trusov is the Director of Marketing at Euthenia Manufacturing Group and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies.  Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.

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