Despite being in a sea of multiple communication platforms, contractors and government customers don’t always communicate well.  The amazing lack of good, consistent connections can cost everyone time and money, not to mention damaged reputations.  The strong, silent type might work in movies, but it’s no way to run your business.  Here are three quick things you can do to make sure you don’t end up in a hot box a la Paul Newman: 

1. Communicate Early & Often:  Not sure what your customer meant by his or her last e-mail?  Ask.  Like sitting in a test and not asking what the directions mean, leaving something open to interpretation increases the risk of failure.  Make sure you’re communicating with all of the relevant people on the customer’s team, too, not just one person.  “Make just someone happy” doesn’t cut it if you’re working with many “someone’s”.

2.  That Thing On Your Desk Is a Telephone:  It’s easy to forget that phones aren’t just carried in your coat pocket or on your belt.  E-mail, too, can be overly relied upon.  If you aren’t getting a reply to your e-mail messages, pick up the phone and call.  Yes, customers can hide behind voicemail just like e-mail, but you’d be surprised how many actually do pick up the phone.  Note to millennials:  One day, when the Boomers are retired, you can text to your heart’s content.  We’re not dead yet, though, and many of us may be your boss.  Pick up the phone.

3.  Remember That Communication Is A Two Way Street:  Are you the one that is impossible to reach?  Do you insist upon texting to the exclusion of all other communication formats?  If your federal customers or channel partners can’t reach you, it’s likely you’re losing business.  Developing a solid reputation as being “difficult to catch” just encourages these important people to seek solutions elsewhere.  Also, remember that the federal market is a small one.  That junior programmer you’re blowing off?  His family donated handsomely to the Clinton campaign.  He’s the next CIO of your largest customer agency.