Communication need not be so hard
I recently moved across continents and found myself in a new place, in need of new sources for services. As exciting as brand new beginnings can be, finding a new gardener seemed to dull the prospect a bit. You see, my move coincided with the time of year that gardeners usually find themselves to be excessively busy. It was Fall and everyone’s garden needed to be prepared for winter and gardeners were highly sought after. I understand the demand factor, my beef, however, was with the stonewalling I had to endure. Although, this was probably not what was intended.
Here’s my story: I contacted 7 different companies offering gardening services, posted on all kinds of message boards, and notified local groups in the know-how… the response?
Zilch. Zero. Nothing.
No one got back to me even after I had called a few repeatedly and left messages for good measure. The few I was able to get through asked me to call back later, to not much avail. It just didn’t happen. My garden sat in its abandoned state for weeks on end while I continued to make calls and queries. By the end of six weeks, I still had no luck. Not. A. Single. Reply. By this time, I thought I hadn’t mastered the local lingo adequately which is why my requests were falling through the cracks; so, I ventured to ask my neighbors and friends if they could help me. Their collective response? “You are not going to be able to get through any of them at this time of the year. Wait until winter.”
This got me thinking: Gardening (‘gardeners’ are really just an example. Please insert any other service provider during their peak business time) is an unsaturated business I need to get into as a side hustle or something is just not right. Why didn’t I get a single response?
I decided to get some answers from people I knew were operating similar businesses. I asked them two questions: How do you communicate with your customers? How do you handle requests? The responses were rather unstructured and vague; I was so shocked that I began thinking about how to automate parts of this process to ensure communication between the customer and the business isn’t severed.
How to start fixing your communication problems:
- Build your website with easy navigation and information points that clearly describe your services and what makes you stand out from the rest of your competition.
- Allow customers to get in touch with you via your website. Ideally, have them self-qualify their own lead by providing a good questionnaire on your page that allows them to describe their request and upload any media files that make it easier for you to offer support.
- Offer a scheduling tool that provides set times during which you will be able to talk to potential customers. Invite them to book the appointments themselves in your calendar. You can automate this process by setting dates, times, and durations for such calls.
- Automate your initial responses and communicate what your prospective customers need to hear from the get-go. These include quick responses such as:
- We have received your message.
- We will get back to you on such a date and time.
- Meanwhile, please share any other information that may help us prepare to provide you optimal service and accelerate the process. (See self-qualification questionnaire above.)
- Hire virtual assistance that can help you receive calls and manage or qualify the initial touchpoints. This allows you to focus on your main job while your team handles the time-consuming first interactions. Just make sure you establish this before your high-season begins.
- Lastly, give this process a while so you have long enough to round the rough edges. This way you will be ready for when the deluge of enquiries come tumbling in.
This is just the beginning of fixing some fundamental communication problems. If you have all this in place and still suffer from miscommunication, please get in touch with me for a consultation on how to fix what seems not to be broken.
Let me know by leaving a comment or by getting in touch.