The right communication in business requires two things:
- Delivering information from the sender in a way that the structure and content of the message properly convey the desired intent
- Receiving that information by the intended audience in a way that the impact of the structure and content convey the desired intent
Impact and Intent
Intent is what we look like and sound like in our heads when we write the email or proof read the speech or talk to clients. Impact is what we look like and sound like to others when they read, hear, or see our message. You can’t have the right communication without the right intent and the right impact. Failure to get both right at the same time could mean more than just confusion and miscommunication. It can mean the difference between a client for life and a potential client that never returns your phone calls.
It’s difficult to separate intent and impact, because once you’ve said something to someone, (or sent an email or put up a billboard or in any way communicated with them) then it’s entirely up to the receiver as to how that message will be received. If they’re in a good mood, you saying “nice shoes” may be received as a compliment. If they’re in a bad mood, that same sentence might be interpreted as a sarcastic comment that indicates to them that you think their shoes are ugly or inappropriate. We have little control over whether someone had a good day or a bad day, but we do have control over the overall impact of what we say. Here are a few tips.
- Make sure to use the same language, both literally (English, French, Russian, etc.) and figuratively. This means to make sure that the use of jargon, acronyms, and industry-specific terminology is kept out of the conversation unless the receiver is part of that industry. If you are always saying “TLA” and they don’t know that it means “three letter acronym” then they will expand your abbreviation in their head to something which may not have the same meaning (or intent).
- Tone of voice is very important. Going back to the “nice shoes” example, if you say it with enthusiasm and excitement, it is likely that the receiver will think you are being genuine. If you say it in a monotone voice, then the receiver may or may not know whether you are being genuine or sarcastic. Applying this to written communication, make sure that you use words that have the specific meaning that you intent, and avoid using words filled with emotional energy.
- If speaking in person, the biggest factor is the manner in which the communication is conveyed. Saying “nice shoes” while giving a thumbs up is more likely to get a positive response than saying “nice shoes” with a grimace on your face.
Of course, impact is hard to predict, since we never know what someone else is thinking or what their background is. But we can always try to make sure that we are communicating effectively with the right communication at the right time to whomever we are communicating with. Written messages, emails, text messages, and letters give us a chance to re-read and edit before we send the messages. But we only have one chance to open our mouths to speak and be heard properly.
We also only have one chance to make the proper impression when someone calls us for the first time. Lots of small businesses use their cell phones as their primary phone for clients to call. “Can you hear me now” may have made for an entertaining advertising campaign, but it does not make for good impact on a potential client. Placing your hand over the phone and yelling across the office to someone to “pick up the phone” might be fine for home, but it is not how a new client wants to be transferred to the sales engineer who is going to help them solve their problems.
A business phone system lets you choose the intent and impact of what you say and how you present your company to your customers. By recording voice greetings, listening to them, and re-recording until you get just the right combination of words, grammar, inflection, and tone, you can be sure that everyone who hears “thank you for calling ABC corporation, please hold while we connect your call” will hear a clear, friendly voice with no drop outs and no static. The impact you make on your customers is not just one of being able to communicate with you, but one where they want to communicate with you more.
The right communication at the right time for our clients and our clients’ clients is not just some cute slogan. It is our dedication to our clients so that when their clients (or customers or vendors or suppliers or partners or potential clients) call them, everything about the call is so perfect that they won’t hesitate to call again. It’s about more than getting connected to the next available agent – it’s about getting connected to the right agent. It’s not just a client leaving a message at the tone in the support mailbox, it’s leaving a message that will be delivered to the mobile phone of the person assigned to that client and making sure that they respond until the problem is resolved.
The right communication at the right time is about intent and impact and how they combine to create the image of your company in the eyes of those that communicate with you. We make small companies look big. We make large, international companies feel like hometown small businesses. We make everyone look better to their clients, ensuring value, service, and loyalty.
Bitnetix is The Business of Communication.