Month: January 2017
We live in a world of high-speed communication where the speed of business has followed. If you are running a business in 2017, you likely ask yourself more then once a day “how did I last communicate with [insert customer, vendor, etc.] and what did we say?”. The challenge is to continue that conversation, be it to follow up with an employee (Was it text or email?) or remind a customer about an invoice (Did I mail it or fax it this time?”. What started out as a set of new tools to allow us to communicate easily has become, well…a mess.
The challenge in all of this is really that as quickly as the technology evolved, the line between personal and work blurred and then simply dissolved. We are not unique as a country in this, in France, the birthplace of the concept of freedom we all enjoy, something new has evolved: “The Right to Disconnect“. Suffice to say, while it probably needs to become mere corporate etiquette rather then ironclad law here in the US, the French are onto something.
The first challenge in this day of multiple channels is to narrow customer communication down to specific avenues. Even if your business is small, avoid using texts, and personal email because they mix up your communication thus blurring that line with your personal time. If possible also avoid using your mobile phone as your main business line. This because it leaves you as the only person that can answer the phone, and announces you are a “one man band” regardless of size. On another front, you are also left at the mercy of your current background environment. Most people using this method have been in the situation where someone or something in their environment sabotaged some kind of important call.
A solution I have found quite effective in unraveling this mess, is called “Grasshopper” (Recently purchased by LogMeIn), and allows even the smallest business to look large while bringing sanity to your hours. Essentially, Grasshopper allows you to set up a virtual phone system that is useful even if you are a one-man operation. Rather then giving up your personal mobile you give the Grasshopper system your mobile and it will forward calls to that number using a kind of “follow me” type method. Looking closely below (highlighted in yellow), you can see that there is the option to set the hours you are available – thus setting a line for your personal life.
The next step when it comes to separating your life and organizing your communication, separating your personal email account. The challenge is that even that one time you send that quick email out from your phone, you start a vicious cycle. From that time, odds are the client will continue to responds via your personal account. How do you avoid this? Simple – set up your business email account on your phone and never use your personal account.
Still wondering about other forms of communication such as social media? It’s best to avoid client communication via social media messaging. If possible, copy the message over to an email message and simply switch to your business account as quickly as possible unless you don’t have a valid address.