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The intuitive salesman series

National Mortgage Professional
Oct 14, 2008

The Telephone Doctor: The seven touch points of communicationNancy Friedman The Telephone Doctor, communication skills, marketing, etiquette Oddly enough, there are seven touch points of communication that can have you fouling up enhancing a business (or personal) relationship. Do you know what they are? Let's go over each one, because throughout the day, both in business and our personal life, we all have the ability to "touch" people in seven varied methods of communication. And as with most things, there are pros and cons. Here we go. The telephone The telephone is the first touch point, and not just your business or home phone, but your cell phone as well. Telephone Doctor surveys show that more than 80 percent of all business transactions involve a phone call at some point. The telephone is whats known as a 'synchronous' method of communication. That means you're in "sync" with the person you're talking with, at the same time. You can have a simultaneous two-way exchange of information, immediately. There is no waiting. The best part of the telephone touch point is the ability to hear the tone of voice. That brings in the listener's imagination, almost like the radio. We have no sight, just sound. And how we perceive those sounds makes a whole lot of difference. So tone of voice is critical with the first touch point. Two people can say the same thing to one person, and yet the listener can hear it differently from each. All that being said, the telephone is a very effective and popular method of communication, provided you've reached your called party. It gets answers quickly and responds rapidly. As you might imagine, this touch point is one of the Telephone Doctor's personal favorites. E-mail Ah yes, the beloved e-mail. E-mail is 'asynchronous' meaning you communicate one at a time and you may not get immediate communication back. You will normally wait for an answer. And with e-mail, you have relinquished interpretation of the tone of voice to the other person. What you write can be heard whatever way the reader wants to hear it. This can be dangerous. E-mail etiquette, while fairly new, will be around for a long time. However, when we e-mail something, it needs to be short, sweet and to the point. Plus, it needs to be obviously friendly. It's a delivery method that has the ability to 'sit' for hours, sometimes days, without an answer. A client of ours told us once, "When there are more than two e-mails on the same subject back and forth, it's time for a face-to-face meeting." That's easy to say for those of us who work in the same area; however, if your e-mails are international or even regional, a face-to-face meeting becomes another touch point. Be careful in your e-mails. Many hurt feelings have come about due to insensitive writing. Thats a good place to practice your 'please and thank you.' Short, terse, one-word answers are perceived as rude. This is true in any touch point. And as they say: "Don't put anything in an e-mail you wouldn't want in the daily newspaper." Voice mail Again, this tough point is asynchronous. You can leave a voice mail for someone and when you get an answer, if ever, it is up to him or her, not you. And it's not instantaneous, like speaking with someone on the telephone. So here again, your voice mail needs to be special. As we've said many times, there are three types of voice mails: Poor, average and great. When you leave a voice mail, make it a great one. Remember, you get to use your tone of voice. Thats a real plus. The caller can hear the laughter, the smile and the tone. Use it to your advantage. Remember, too, voice mail was not made to hold conversations. Ask a question; get an answer. Smooth. In and out. Good old U.S. mail That's probably one of the very first methods of communication. And we've used it, and continue using it, as a great method of communication. It goes with e-mails though, because the written word can be misunderstood very easily. So e-mail, voice mail and the U.S. Postal Service are very similar when communicating. All are asynchronous. You will wait for an answer. The fax machine Remember when that method of communicating came on the scene? Seems we didn't know how we operated without it. And today, it trails sadly behind the other touch points. Yet, it's still there and being used. Just not as much or as often. And a reminder, again, it is asynchronous. One-way information; waiting for an answer. And again, a reminder to watch what you put on paper! It could come back to haunt you. Face-to-face communications This obviously needs very little explanation. When we communicate face-to-face, we have it all. We have sight, sound, tone of voice, facial expressions and body languagethe entire package. It is the ultimate synchronous touch point. And yet, still, with all those helpful items, we still continue to miscommunicate. Instant messaging (IM) While this method of communication isn't quite in the mainstream, it is being used. However, 90 percent of all IMs end up in a phone call. Instant messages may not be read right away. The person may be away from his computer. Again, we can't remind you enough: Be careful what you put into an IM. They can turn into an embarrassment for some. So, in this wonderful world of communications, you can see how it's so easy to miscommunicate. In our workplace, we probably use all seven touch points many times a day. A few simple guidelines can help us focus on which touch point to use when: &• Telephone: If you reach your called party, great. That's immediate. It's also good for leaving messages that don't need an immediate answer. If you need immediate action, try to reach another person. The telephone is only synchronous when you have reached the called party. &• Voice mail: That would be asynchronous. Leaving messages that will be returned when the called party decides to return it (if ever). &• E-mail: Again, this is one-way communication. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Use your manners. Remember, one word answers are perceived as rude. &• U.S. mail: Still a great way to communicate. But be careful with the written word. Keep in mind how possible miscommunication might occur. Sometimes letters have come back to haunt us. &• Fax: For those that still use this method of communication, one-pagers are appreciated. And again, the written word needs to be checked and double-checked to be sure it won't be miscommunicated. &• Face-to-face: The ultimate method of communication. You get immediate reaction, tone, sight, sound and body languagetotal synchronous communication. And that hug or handshake makes it all worthwhile! &• IM: A fairly new form of communication, and while not quite in the mainstream yet, it bears watching. Nancy Friedman, "The Telephone Doctor," has spoken at the past four consecutive National Association of Mortgage Brokers Annual Conventions and is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis, Mo. Nancy is a frequent speaker at meetings and conferences worldwide. She may be reached at (314) 291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.
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