I need some advice from my accountant. She’s great when it comes to numbers and I want to ask her about some work-related changes I’m thinking of making and how they will affect the structure of my finances and my tax.
So I emailed her my questions. And then I emailed her again. And then again and again. It’s like she’s assisting that team who recently composited an image of a black hole – and my emails are whizzing straight past her and into the infinite depths beyond.
And then, one day, a glimmer of hope. She promised me answers. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
I took a different tack. Maybe a meeting was a better idea. Maybe she’s just not an emailer – a numbers, rather than words person. She responded positively, so I suggested a date.
It’s two weeks later and she hasn’t confirmed or otherwise responded to that date suggestion – and the date in question has passed. So I have now resorted to going via her colleague – who’s also terrible on email, but responds to WhatsApps, and I’ve been promised a new meeting date by the end of business today – which is less than an hour away as I write.
The thing is, though, I am very close to moving on to someone else – not because she’s a bad accountant, but because she’s a bad communicator. Do your clients feel the same way?
We live in a world where everything happens immediately. You can be in contact with someone across the world in an instant – and so people’s expectations are that when they communicate with you, you’ll respond pretty quickly. And that doesn’t mean you have to answer everything immediately – but it does mean you need to answer faster than six or seven weeks later. (A good rule of thumb is within 24 hours.) Because by the time all those weeks have passed, not only could your clients have found the information they wanted via carrier pigeon or ship, but they will already have moved on to someone else – particularly when they urgently need to make an informed business decision.
Communication is not the soft – or even unnecessary – business skill you imagine it to be. It’s essential. And if you don’t communicate well – or at all – it can have a very serious on your bottom line.
So when your clients talk, listen. And don’t forget to reply – communication doesn’t work so well when it only goes in one direction.