poseycorp’s position is that nothing will serve you and your vision better than developing exceptional communication skills. As Stephen Covey says “Communication is the most important skill in life.” I believe this strongly enough that I’ve built my whole business around helping innovators become great communicators.
In recent posts we’ve looked at communicating to motivate your team, to acquire allies, to capture mindshare as a powerful evangelist – here and here. But what about customers? A vast topic – let’s dive in!
First, your customers and prospects are a skeptical bunch. They have been burned before, and they are very careful about committing time and money to something or someone new. Your customers seek out every bit of data they can find to decide whether to trust you and your products and services. Customers merge your personal brand and the company brand – no matter what size the company is and what your role is at the company. One great customer service person can make a customer love a giant multi-national company, and one CEO media gaffe can sink a stock price.
Listen to Seth Godin on The Tim Ferris Show Episode #177. Seth was talking about personal brand, but you can (and should) apply what he says to both your personal brand as a leader and to the company brand you’re shaping. Here are my favorite excerpts:
“Your brand is the promise that you make, implicitly or explicitly. . . . You have a brand whether you want one or not. The minute you engage with your boss, co-workers, prospects, customers, you have a brand. You’re branded as the calm professional who gets the job done or the short term hustler. . .”
So, what do we do? First, accept that whether you are conscious of it or not, you are communicating your brand all day long. Second, to quote Seth again, “It’s up to you to consistently and persistently show up in a way that amplifies that brand.”
You may think you’re telling your customers everything they need to know about your brand by having a great website, doing great keynote speeches and being frothed over in the press. Those things are vital. And they’re just the beginning.
Your customers will attach equal weight to whether you show up on time to meetings with them and are engaged when you’re in the room. They want to hear bad news from you before they see it on a news site. They expect forthright, respectful and speedy resolution of issues. They observe how you behave at industry dinners, they may see you at the airport and take note of whether you are zen-like or raging at the customer service agent when the flight is canceled.
Everything you do (and don’t do) is part of your brand. So what do you do? You show up in a way that consistently and persistently reinforces your brand. Forever. Embrace this and you’re well on your way to becoming a great customer communicator.
Communication is the essential last mile in finding and motivating the right teams, acquiring strong allies, powerfully bonding with customers, and capturing mindshare with compelling stories. Nothing will serve you and your vision better than developing exceptional communication skills.