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Communication Coach: Why your business needs a communication response plan

March 27, 2018 -  By

Professional athletes pay close attention to everything their bodies tell them. Each signal communicates the need for taking action.

A sharp pain signals danger. It may be a weakness, an imbalance or something worse that’s calling out for attention. But what action, if anything, should be taken right now?

A version of this is happening every day in your business. Customers fail to respond to your messages. A team member doesn’t seem to be his or her cheery self.

These are silent, but meaningful communication signals.

They can help you run a better business, but first you have to notice them. Then they must be interpreted to discover their underlying meaning.

Why are subtle communications important? For one, people will lie to you.

Customers will say they are happy because you empathized with their concerns. Employees will express confidence because they don’t want you to think they are less capable than their peers.

Then they leave because they feel you ignored their subtle calls for help.

Developing a communication response plan increases your company’s likelihood of responding quickly and appropriately in these situations. It’s a tool for getting everyone trained to eliminate dangers and capitalize on opportunities the moment they are discovered.

The relevant KPI influencers are upstream

Key performance indicators (KPIs) inform an organization of its progress. For example, a leading landscaping company tracks profits and other metrics, such as lead conversion and labor efficiency.

The problem is none of these indicators are customer-facing.

None of these indicators inform the business about the well-being of the people, including team members, customers, subcontractors and other partners, that make profits possible.

Obviously, human qualities are tough to measure, but knowing that they contribute to profitability and growth makes the challenge necessary.

Verne Harnish, author of “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it And Why The Rest Don’t,” recommends business leaders personally ask one of their customers the following questions on a regular basis.

  1. How are you doing?
  2. What’s going on in your industry/neighborhood?
  3. What do you hear from our competitors?
  4. How are we doing?

You can learn a lot by asking your team members these same questions.

When you get people talking about their favorite subject, themselves, you gain valuable insights, such as exactly what’s important to them. It’s business intelligence that tests your communication response plan.

3-step communication process: Awareness, analysis and action

If social media teaches us anything, it’s awareness. We’ve learned that it’s not so much what people say but how they say it that matters. Thus, one business benefit of social media is practicing how to pick up on communication signals and appropriately respond to them.

Step One: Awareness

Early in my landscaping career I discovered meditation to manage stress. In fact, over time I completed training and became a certified meditation instructor.

The first step in releasing stressors is noticing the signals that your body is experiencing, whether it is seeing, hearing or feeling them. The next step is taking the action of letting them go.

Step Two: Analysis

The point of meditation is to control what you can and that is your own thoughts, not external influences.

A business, too, can maximize its resources by limiting its efforts to the influences it can control that affect what customers, employees and everyone else it interacts with are seeing, hearing or feeling.

Step Three: Action

Failing to respond to communication signals is an action that has consequences. It’s one that many professional athletes take when there is a competition on the line and there are risks associated with that.

Fortunately, when it comes to business, experience reveals it’s always better to acknowledge what people seem to be communicating. You can do this skillfully by planning for it and training your team with case studies and analysis showing what works or what doesn’t.

If you want to strengthen your performance playbook this season, put together a communication response plan that tackles common communication scenarios that are known to either compromise your business success or take it to the next level.

Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms. Learn more at

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