The more I work with agent teams (of all sizes) the more convinced I am that communication is the underlying problem to many frustrations, disappointments and confusion – not to mention wasted time with interruptions, crossover and repeated information.
As you may know, I am obsessed with reducing wasted time and increasing productive time, so I am always looking at ways to improve communication. Here are my top five.
1. Daily WIP
Now don’t be alarmed: there is no physical danger to this one! WIP stands for Work In Progress. Hold a five to 10-minute stand-up meeting with your associate or team members first thing every morning to update and set clear expectations for that day’s outcomes. This will avoid any crossover or misunderstanding about deadlines and important deliverables.
2. Urgent Action vs Download
You know the drill: you have a million things going around in your head and, as the day progresses, events occur that require action and follow-through. Instead of interrupting and bombarding your team members every 10 minutes to download your thoughts and clear your mind, adopt the strategy of running this filter: Is this urgent action or a download?
If it requires urgent action then, yes, interrupt so that your team can spring into motion. If it is simply a download for something later that day or week, then choose the best communication channel for it and download that way.
Email was designed to deliver information. It is very effective when there are details, data or specific information that needs to be provided to another person. Emails should not be used for urgent action, so decide carefully whether this is the right channel for the message.
If email is the right channel and you need a response or an action to it, then be clear on who is responsible for executing and address the email to that person. Only CC others if they need to be aware or across what is going on. Many times I have received an email where several people are in the To: field, and the email opens with, ‘Hi, could someone please ensure that…’. The problem here is that ‘everyone’ will leave it to ‘someone’ and nothing will happen.
Many agent teams and even whole offices have adopted this application for group text messages, video calls and sharing media. It is a free application and uses wi-fi so doesn’t take up all your phone data. You can set up specific groups so that communication threads stay unique to that group or topic, and it removes crossover, repetition and double handling. Great for when you are out on the road and need short, sharp communication.
This very clever and functional application is the one thing that has truly revolutionised my business and how I operate. Email, SMS and text messages are great in many instances, but verbal communication is often the better choice. If tone is 38 per cent of effective communication, it can take a lot of thought, punctuation, emojis and rewriting to get a written message reading the right way.
Enter Voxer – simple voice messages that are instant and replayable. No longer do you need to play phone tag all day to reach someone who usually hasn’t listened to your message anyway, and then have to repeat it. Talk about a waste of time! Voxer is instant; you can see when your message has been heard and you can receive instant voice messages back to you that you can pick up as soon as you are available.