One of my favorite lines for my 15 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 simply 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. 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.
For example, when a client sends me an email to schedule an appointment with someone, I send a simple “done” or “got it and will do by COB today.” I communicate that I have received what they want and will do it or have done. There is no question in their mind and it can vanish from their worries. Another way to ensure that people’s needs are addressed in a timely manner is set automated email responses when you are going to be out or if it is after hours. One of my clients is awesome about that. When you send her an email, an auto reply comes back that she is in with a client and she lists when she addresses emails during in workday. She closes the loop for anyone that emails her. She lets them know that their email was received and she will get to it.
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 you to close the loop 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.
If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you find more hours in your work week, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.