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Are You Engaged in Screen-to-Screen Communication?
When I first came to Red Nova Labs, I thought the most difficult part of account management would be the lack of face time with clients. My background is in journalism, specifically profile writing. Getting face-to-face with people and figuring out what makes them tick genuinely interests me.
To say I was worried about my ability to perform well as an account manager would be an understatement. How would I know if a client was happy with the work I was doing without being able to see the smile on their face or the hop in their step? So much communication is lost when the vast majority of client relations happen through email. Where's the eye contact, proximity, body language and the main 80% of communication human beings have been doing since before written language and telephone lines?
"Out the window," I thought.
I've since learned that even with all the communication that's missing, there's still a lot going on through email. My interest in account management has been piqued by what I like to think of as, "screen-to-screen" communication.
Those short sentences, word choice, ellipses…, CAPITAL LETTERS, exclamation marks(!) and even the time it takes a client to respond can be the email equivalent of body language, vocal tonality and eye contact. Of course, every case is different and you have to use your best judgment as to what message the client is trying to send. But that's part of the fun, figuring out how best to meet the communication needs of your client.
As a general rule, I try to match the communication habits of my clients by using similar word choice, punctuation and tone. Once I get to know their personality and what's going on in their lives, it's easier to deviate from this strategy. When it's appropriate, I try to ask questions about things I think they think are important.
Three months in and I've still never met one of my clients in person, but I can tell you a lot about them. From the weather in their part of the country (shout out to my clients on the east coast working through a terrible winter) to their vacation plans to the most recent illnesses of friends and family, I've become attached to my clients not just in a business sense, but also in a personal sense.
Because of this, I've found myself becoming invested in my client's projects not just because it's my job, but because I care about them. The reason I enjoyed journalism so much is because I got to know people and learn their stories. Looks like the same thing is happening with account management.
What all of this boils down to is having a genuine interest in people. That's a skill that can translate to any industry.