Communication is the way which is used to exchange information between individuals through a common methodology of signs, symbols, or behavior.
When it comes to choosing the right method of communication for you and your client, never just assume one form. Your proposed method of communication may not be as effective with them as their proposed method.
Effective Communication is the key to a successful business-to-business relationship. The communication process starts immediately as you’ll need to learn what the client wants and expects from you and as you get to know more about their business.
In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at the topic of communicating with clients. Many of the tips that are mentioned can apply to communicate in general, but the article comes specifically from the prospect of a client relationship.
1. Have a Method or a System
It will be helpful to have a method or system for the client to communicate beyond that point. If you are just responding to emails or phone calls as they come in with no records in any organization, chances are you could benefit from putting a system in place.
If you’re working with several clients at one time it can be very challenging to remember exactly what was said by which client and what was done at different points. There is no right or wrong method, but you could consider using a resource that is intended for customer service (see our post 12 CRM Options for Freelancers), or you could develop your own system and processes to keep track of communication.
Without a system, you will probably find yourself scrambling to find out what was said about different aspects of the project. Having a record is always good because it will avoid the need to go back to the client when it’s not necessary and it will also help to protect you in case there is some type of dispute down the road.
2. Listen more, talk less
It is important to emphasize the need to listen to the client’s requirement very carefully and let them provide you with the information that will help you to do the best job possible as their website is all about their business & their customers who work for them.
Of course, many times client also should be doing the listening, but during the initial stages when one can start the business should know about their business and be sure of placing the most value in listening to what they have to say.
3. Avoid Assumptions
Assuming yourself that the client understands certain things or that they want something a particular way but which they don’t actually want can lead to miscommunication. If you are unsure about something, take few minutes to understand actually what the client wants rather than assuming yourself and causing a lot of work that needs to be re-done later.
4. Keep your communication professional
Avoid using emoticons and emojis, even when communicating via Facebook or other social media platforms. Those little smiley faces take away from the overall message of your email and are simply just too casual. Unless you’ve already developed a more personal relationship with your client, it’s best to avoid everything from emoticons to GIFs.
Abbreviations, such as “btw” (by the way) and “ttyl” (talk to you later), and slang terms should be avoided at all costs. Profanity is also a major “no-no” in the world of email etiquette. If at any time you feel you cannot express yourself in a professional manner, walk away and give yourself time to cool down before forming your response.
5. Confirm Meeting Details
Always double-check the details. Recording the date and time helps you maintain a clean schedule with little risk of overbooking yourself. Double-booking can lead to more stress and loss of credibility with the client whose meeting you’re forced to postpone.
6. Skype (or Google Hangouts)
For communications on daily basis with clients, we try to maintain a weekly or daily basis Skype call with clients, with or without video (based on need and bandwidth). These ‘calls’ can typically last 30 to 45 minutes according to the requirement or need and offer a great way to connect multiple people in different locations.
Skype is a great way to communicate with clients for conference calls and is helpful to understand the client’s needs more clearly.
7. Try to avoid Jargon
One of the biggest frustrations for clients is when we talk to them with terms and phrases that they don’t understand. Although you are working online all the time and you probably communicate with other customers, keep in mind that your clients will not have the same experience, so you should avoid using terms that they are unlikely to understand (or at least explain what they mean).
As you work with clients you will get a better understanding of how tech-savvy they are, and you can adjust your communication accordingly. Some clients who have very good knowledge will be able to communicate easily without the need to explain everything and others who have very little knowledge or experience related to the internet.
8. Make your communication count
Since your clients are busy, some of them didn’t want to receive instant emails or calls about the project. One of the lessons I’ve learned from my experience is to make communication count. Try to put your questions together in a queue in one email rather than sending some different emails per query.
Additionally, to be more clear, make an effort when you communicate so there is no need to go back and forth several times just to understand the issue at hand.
Because clients value their own time, it will be appreciable if you increase the time that you have in communication and if there is a requirement for them to revert to fewer emails or take fewer phone calls. This definitely goes back to the need for working in a good organization and having a system to keep tabs on the communication. If you forget what a client told you, you can either go back through your records to find out yourself or you can contact them to ask again. Of course, it’s preferable to not have to go back to the client when it’s not necessary.
Effective client communication can make all the difference in your business relationships. It’s important to maintain a professional relationship with clients so they know you mean business. Following these tips is sure to boost your credibility and your relationships with your clients, creating a win-win for all parties.
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