More than a decade ago (hard to believe it has been that long) I wrote Only The First Two Digits Matter. For the vast majority of what I do, that remains true. There are times, however, when all the digits matter and communication needs to be precise.
A few months ago, a transaction hit a new client’s bank account that no one recognized. Frankly, that’s another topic entirely. With very few exceptions, all transactions should be posted to the general ledger well before they show up at the bank. This “best practice” would have completely eliminated any questions about the mysterious banking transaction.
That said, what ensured was a flurry of emails asking if anyone recognized the transaction that brought to mind the famous Laurel & Hardy, Who’s on First? routine. There were guesses at what might have occurred. There were ideas related to dollar amounts that were in the ballpark but not precisely the amount withdrawn. And it certainly didn’t help that the true vendor was disguised behind the processor, Intuit Payment Solutions, who was of absolutely no help in identifying the transaction despite a long phone call with them. Be advised, there are no short phone calls with Intuit!
The processes that lead to this confusion have been (hopefully) rectified but the underlying point is that this is one of those instances where communication needed to be precise. When dealing with banking transactions, one generally needs to use exact amounts, dates, account numbers, vendor or customer names, etc.
The few extra moments required to provide appropriate detail and context can often save many multiples of that time by eliminating otherwise needless emails asking for clarification. Those extra moments can also eliminate the time delay of people writing back and forth to each other and the days that can turn into weeks to put an issue to bed. Providing all the details eliminates the need to refresh one’s recollection days or weeks later after hundreds of other emails, calls, texts, etc. have pushed the original issue to the back of one’s memory banks forcing people to circle back on the issue as details emerge.
When you’re asking someone to help you resolve an issue, ask yourself what information do they need to deal with it at once? Provide all of it in the first communication. Err on the side of providing more not less. Save everyone time and energy and improve the speed with which the issue gets resolved.
How many of your follow up emails could be eliminated if you got more information with the initial request?
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected]
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