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March 6, 2010 Growth Enablement

The Power of Proactive Communication in Business

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By Jim Ward

We all know how important communication is in any relationship, be it personal, professional, or business. However, it cannot be overstated how important it is that we use proactive communication in business and in the workplace. Although this seems obvious, I find that the policy of proactive communication is under-used.

So how do we define proactive communication?  Simply stated, it’s the practice of communicating before or immediately after being asked by your client for information about a purchase, project, or any simple inquiry. Your relationship with your clients can only grow if you communicate openly and often.

Proactive communication is a somewhat instinctive reaction. You have to be able to sense if your client needs more information than you’ve provided. Just because your intentions are good and all the necessary information related to your client may be in your head, that doesn’t mean the client doesn’t need to hear that information. The simplest of details may mean the world to them.

Think of it this way: when you go to your doctor, they update you with general information regarding your health, but that information isn’t always what you need to hear. Say your doctor says your blood pressure dropped. You’d like to know if that has anything to do with your heart condition — however, you think this question is too obvious, or dumb, or you’re uneasy asking an “expert” anything because you’re afraid you won’t understand the answer anyway.

Your client sees you as the expert as well and may very well be feeling this way. A good doctor sees this in your eyes or hears this in your voice. They take the time to review any concerns you may have and lay out next steps.

In business, we need to do the same thing. Don’t assume a client knows what to do or how to act. Prompt them to ask questions, listen to their concerns, and explain everything as calmly and compassionately as possible.

If the a pings you with questions, take it as a sign that they may need more proactive communication than what’s currently provided.  Never wait until you have the answer to respond. Always let them know they you received their message, and you’ll be getting an answer for them soon. It’s far better to respond with no new information than to leave the client in the dark. No one likes waiting days for a response, even if you spent those days forming a detailed answer to a question. As far as your client is concerned, you’ve dropped off the face of the Earth.

While this should be a common practice, sadly it often isn’t. If you’re struggling to establish proactive communication practices within your business, an easy first step is to use your CRM to automate certain routine FAQ’s or use social media and blogging to keep clients informed. Communication will always return on your investment, in every relationship.

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Jim Ward

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