The number-one complaint I hear from authors about their agents is that they don’t communicate with them. My understanding of this was renewed when I was on the side of needing an insurance agent to respond to me.
I needed an adjustment to my policy that will mean I’ll pay the company more money. Alas, and alack, the agency I’d been with for decades (which has been sold twice, by the way) never had someone available to pick up the phone during business hours. I’m at a particularly stressful and busy time in my life, and I have no time to engage in Byzantine voice-mail mazes on an 800 line. I expected a quick resolution with my agent.
Then again, not picking up the phone is better than feeling unwanted by a real live person. The second agent was snippy, treating me like a deadbeat until she saw we’d been paying premiums on time every time since my husband (then a bachelor) needed renter’s insurance in 1981. They wanted me to go back to the first unresponsive agent. That’s pretty much like an agent representing horror turning away Stephen King. Right?
A person answered the phone at the third place, changed the policy, and emailed documents to me literally five minutes after we hung up. Congratulations to them! They have a new paying customer!
I admit there are times I fail to communicate or to communicate well. But as your agent, I try to:
- Remember that writers are the world’s busiest people.
- Let clients know that email works best for me in most circumstances. By the way, I feel email imposes much less on clients’ time, too.
- Return telephone calls as soon as possible.
- Let clients know my office hours.
- Acknowledge receipt of an email if I can’t give a helpful or informative response right away.
- Attempt to treat all clients as I would want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12, anyone?)
- Attempt to treat all clients well regardless of where they are in their careers.
I hope all of my clients feel special; and if they don’t, I hope they’ll communicate with me so we can stay on track!
What is the worst communication experience you’ve had? The best?
What tips can you offer anyone wanting to communicate effectively?