How easy do you find communicating? Do you find replying to emails an afterthought at the end of the day? Does answering telephone calls get in way of your work? Are client meetings a pain? Does communicating with your client get in the way of your work? Do you recognise yourself and are you having a communication breakdown?
Perhaps all the above does, sometimes, but it is actually part of your work and the commitment you put into your work output should be reflective in your communication.
I’m not preaching; I took a call from a company who had sacked their PR agency based on this very scenario.
It became clear the problem wasn’t the agency’s output; it was how the agency communicated with the client.
The PR output was actually good, but like so many agencies an account handler was in charge of the relationship, not the person who was actually doing the work. Ironically the account handler didn’t have a handle on the work!
Emails were answered via flippant one-line answers and signed off inappropriately. The tone was extremely casual and the responses held no weight of importance. It was sloppy communication, unprofessional, and in my opinion disrespectful given the investment their client was making in contracting PR services.
But the real problem was the lack of consistency. The agency’s communication didn’t match the quality of work produced. The work demonstrated a high level of understanding but the account handler didn’t, this alone resulted in the breakdown of the relationship.
I had a boss that would always say you could never find a printer that could provide speed, quality, and a competitive price in one package. He believed one of the three would always be compromised and he was right, even to this day I still hear his mantra. Could a similar equation be applied to PR agencies? Output, relationship, and price?
Perhaps it isn’t possible to have it all but my final say on this is that consistency really is the key, so please don’t ignore your communication. Communication breakdown will be inevitable.
Have you experienced this in dealing with your contractors, outsourcers or even your very own staff?