Client communication shouldn't be as tense as the relationship between Gomer Pyle and Sergeant Carter.

Gomer Pyle often got an earful from his drill sergeant, but never let it get him down. Perhaps his response would work for you. Next time you get a ‘Sergeant Carter’ email, put on a goofy smile and exclaim, “G-o-l-l-y!” “Shazam!” or “Sur-prise, Sur-prise, Sur-prise!

Q: I have a client who seems to bark orders whenever he emails me. He is a good client and seems to like our work, yet his emails are so curt it puts me on the defensive. How can I improve this client communication?

A: Instead of hearing those clipped phrases as if they were coming from a drill sergeant, think of your client speaking the same words with a smile on his face. Hear the difference?

Email is great for quick notes, but manners can fall victim to efficiency and the writer’s tone of voice is lacking. Without vocal cues to the emotion behind the message, a lot can get lost in translation.

But you can do something about it. Instead of always emailing back, pick up the phone every once in a while. You’ll build a better relationship and you’ll be able to offer better service because you can ask follow-up questions and get more detailed answers. If possible, make an appointment to meet in person, too.

If your client turns out to be just as terse on the phone and in person, you’ll have to be satisfied with the compliments he implies every time he barks a new request at you rather than one of your competitors. If you want to keep the work coming, keep in mind that you’re on the same team – and both of you want the work you do to be great!

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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