Six weeks ago, my wife and I moved to the other side of the country. After 24 years in the same house, you’ll be surprised what you need to arrange to accomplish that. Of course there is a lot of physical stuff that need to be taken care of. However, informing and taking care of all the different kind of authorities takes up the most time! Think of mortgage, dentist, general physician, insurances, local government and internet provider, just to name a few.

What struck me in dealing with all these organisations, is their level of communication, or lack thereof. Some of them are very correct and informed me of receiving the documents or changes I sent them. Just like an acknowledgement. With some, more things had to be taken care of and thus they informed me about the next steps. Some stand out from the rest in a not so positive way, due to their total lack of proper communication. These are the ones that need to be chased to ensure that all is being handled correctly. Noticeably these are also the ones with long waiting times on the phone.

What inspired me to write on this topic is a simple communication pattern over the past week with my new dentist. I thought I sent her a completed intake form, but overlooked to attach the form to the email. She responded in a very correct manner telling me that unfortunately the form had not made it to the other end. So I re-sent it, this time attaching the form. Next day I received a confirmation that all was correctly received and also a phone call to schedule an appointment.

Nothing special you might think, just correct communication! I agree, that is what made it stand out from most and it is how I would like the communication with other parties as well. Just informing what is going on. Unfortunately, the other group is the group that I had to follow up with, just to hear answers that they haven’t had the time yet, or that they are still waiting for someone else. That’s ok, but just tell me and I know what to expect.

We are all busy people. However, by thinking that there is nothing to communicate yet, you aren’t saving time for anybody. In fact it can lower customer or partner satisfaction by not responding. Irritation might rise at the other side when communication is lacking and assumptions, probably false, are being made.

How much time would it take to write a short email or text message to acknowledge that you received the questions? Add another line and inform by when you expect to take the next steps. It will all probably take less time than the phone conversation with an irritated counterpart.

Can you communicate too much? It is easier to communicate too little, which many people do. The right balance is as always in the middle. Think about your own communication, with customers, partners, colleagues: where are you on the scale of effective communication?