Post by Sarah Quinn, Media Director As a Media Director working with clients and teams across regions, I have found the below list of communication tips particularly useful for day-to-day remote business conversations. Proper communication, I have found, not only improves client and team relations, but in turn drives more efficient and improved results for clients. As more brands and client teams expand globally, keep in mind the below communication tips that are especially helpful for professionals dealing with remote teams and clients:
- Be positive. This may sound like a no-brainer, but placing extra emphasis on being positive through voice and especially email goes a long way. Being positive encourages further communication between teammates and clients, which in turns leads to more idea and strategy discussions.
- Include personal and relevant greetings in communication. A great way to start conversations and greet remote teams and clients is to ask about geographically relevant topics, such as: “I know it’s been raining a lot in New York this week, did you stay dry on your way to work this morning?” or “How did you celebrate Día de los Muertos?” This immediately opens the conversation, particularly across borders.
- Clearly define times, dates and currency. Keep in mind that it can be important to very clearly write out type of currency, time zone(s) and dates in a universal matter. For example, 3 November 2014 is more clear than 11/3/2014: In the U.S., mm/dd/year format is common, but 11/3/2014 could mean March 11th to someone in Latin America because the dd/mm/year format is more common.
- Keep it simple. When working on multi-region accounts, it is helpful to assume a language difference and aim to use simple, clear and concise sentences. Make sure the subject and objective of the email is clear. Be to the point and stay away from using colloquialisms or complex descriptive words which may vary in commonality from region to region.
- Have a list of acronyms ready. This is a best practice regardless of location and whether you are communicating remotely or in person. Every client and team has a different set of acronyms they consider business as usual, so having a list of commonly used acronyms on the account- shared with both client and agency teams- is vital. Clearly defined acronyms saves unnecessary back and forth which can delay important events such as campaign launches.
- Keep organizational charts. If you have multiple brands or lines of business running for a client, it is particularly important to keep an updated organizational chart on both the agency and client side: This will ensure that the client can directly communicate with the proper contacts on the agency side for their needs, and the agency contacts can send reporting and updates to the right client contacts. This saves time… and possible embarrassment!
- Have a file management system everyone adopts. Especially important with reporting and documents that are passed back and forth between multiple teams on the agency side, it is a best practice to save files with initials and version details consistently so teams can track updates and changes. This becomes vital when troubleshooting or trying to pinpoint when changes were made to numbers, budgets or recommendations. Using an online resource such as Sharepoint or Google Documents can also help with file management and version control, saving time for the whole team.
Following the above recommendations will help streamline communication, open up client dialogues and remove some of the challenges remote teams and clients face on a day-to-day basis.