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Friday, July 6, 2012

Basic Business Communications is Fundamental #smallbiz #tips

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I have encountered several situations recently in which business failed to do the most basic of communications which is to tell customers important followup information.

I recently registered to attend an industry conference and I was able to use the same form for my hotel reservation. I received an email confirmation that included info about my conference registration, the cancellation policy and the hotel cancellation policy. There is was ZERO information in the email that confirmed my hotel reservation. A colleague had also registered and reserved the room at the same time and had the same concern.  I called the registration center and asked them to verify that my room had been secured. The agent check my registration and confirmed that my room was reserved and said that I would receive a confirmation for the room with in 7 business days.

My issue with this is that there would have been no need for me to call anyone if the email confirmation simply stated that the hotel reservation confirmation would be sent separately within 7 business days.

This is an example of what I call "basic communications." It is not groundbreaking to tell your customers what to expect and it typically doesn't take much effort to include an extra line or two in your  communications. When communicating to customers and clients you should do everything you can to cover your bases - period.

Another example of poor basic communications I recently received and email that I had not submitted an online application that I was sure that I had completed. I spent 35 minutes one evening trying to submit my information. I even used the "help" button which showed me a screen shot of a submit button on the very same page I had open without a submit button. The next day I called the office for help and they directed to send an email to the person in charge of the application. I sent the email requesting assistance in submitting my application or for support in finding the missing submit button.

I received a response back with in 20 minutes that stated that the individual was aware of that the submit button was not available on the application and that my application was fine and I didn't need to do anything else.

1. Why on earth did they send me an email stating they didn't have my application?
2. Why didn't think to send a follow-up basic email communication to let me and other users know that the "submit" capability was actually not available?

I wasted approximately an hour of my time for an issue that could have be settled with a basic email communication updating me to the circumstances.

Tip: Always communicate information necessary for customers/clients to know. If your system is glitchy let customers know immediately. If you plan to send them follow-up information - let them know when to expect. Do leave your audience guessing or confused - ever.

 Small Business Resources

Making Sense of Health Care Reform: Seven Basics for Small-Business Owners
While it may take some time to become familiar with the new regulations, it is important now for small-business owners to understand the effect of health care reform on their companies and their employees. This white paper explains seven primary components of the Affordable Care Act:
  1. Small-business tax credits
  2. The grandfather provision
  3. Non-discrimination
  4. FSA, HSA, and HRA plans and over-the-counter medicines
  5. Coverage for young adult dependents
  6. W-2 reporting
  7. The CLASS Program

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