One of my favorite lines for my 16 year old son in life is “close the loop.” In his lawn mowing business, he likes to assume a lot. He assumes that his clients know when he will be coming to mow their yard and when he will not. He assumes they see the same weather forecast that he does. I encourage him to text them to let them know he will or will not be coming today. That way, they will know he has not forgotten about them. Essentially, he needs to COMMUNICATE with them, so everyone is on the same page. Like any teen, I have a ways to go before he will consistently “close the loop.” I do hope though that someday he will look back and this advice will surface to make sense when he enters the working world.
Throughout my years of working, volunteering and coordinating, I have learned how important is to bring a conversation full circle. By this I mean, the person you are communicating with is not left waiting and wondering. You confirm with them that yes the requested task will be accomplished or yes you did receive their email. It is simple, yet for many it is a foreign concept. As a virtual assistant, I look at this as part of my responsibility and I would not be fulfilling my job if I left people hanging all of the time. But “closing the loop” is also important for supervisors. It is important for everyone. If no one is communicating, you can bet that it will affect the business one way or another eventually.
Since many of my clients are on the west coast, I receive requests for tasks after my work hours. If I am able since my phone is usually in my hand, I try to send the simple words of “received and will do first thing tomorrow morning.” To ensure that I do not forget the task, I either leave the email highlighted as new or create a note for me on my phone to address during my “power hour” in the morning. It is a simple way to “close the loop” without too much effort on my part after hours.
As a virtual assistant, the number one thing I can do is “close the loop” for my clients. In the beginning, it is a great way to establish confidence in what I do for them. And in the long run, it is what makes me stand out. I encourage everyone to close the loop, no matter what title you hold in a business, by simply replying to an email. If you think that person might question whether you received their email, cover yourself with a confirmation back to them that you did. No one wants to feel as though their email has entered an abyss or that they need to nag to have something completed.
Though many will say communication is not their strength, there are ways to automate responses which in the end benefits everyone. I challenge you all to write the simple words, Close the Loop, down on a post it near your computer. Once you see how simple it can be, it will become part of your daily workflow. You do not always need the necessary answer or information right at that moment. By informing the person who needs you that you acknowledge and will address them later is so beneficial for your business in the long run.