There are many opportunities for mistakes when it comes to communication with clients. Whether you forget to reply to an email, misunderstand an essential project requirement, or make incorrect assumptions about a client’s needs, communication issues could be detrimental to your career and income.
Implementing a few solid practices for improving client communication into your workflow can make a big difference in how they see you. It can also save you valuable time and energy in completing projects and delivering them to clients. And you’ll see their satisfaction with your work grow over time.
This article will describe strong client communication and explain why it’s essential for a successful career. Then we’ll delve into some tips for improving your communication practices. Let’s get started!
Assertive Communication: What It Looks Like and Why It’s Important
Assertive communication has three aspects: promptness, clarity, and effectiveness. These qualities increase the likelihood that your work will meet or exceed clients’ expectations and leave them with a positive impression of you.
Keeping clients happy means delivering what they want (or better). Good impressions keep clients coming back to you for future projects and recommending you to their friends in the business. If you have experience managing clients, you’ll know how important those two outcomes are.
Here at ManageWP, we’re big fans of client reports for demonstrating how you’ve helped clients with their websites. However, before you can send a client report, you’ll have to communicate with clients to determine what they need and deliver it with expertise. That’s where this article comes in!
Overall, strong communication with clients will increase your efficiency as you work on projects so that you can deliver your promised end result faster. Plus, you’ll avoid some of the negative effects of poor communication, like stress, confusion leading to unmet client expectations, and dissatisfaction with your work.
3 Key Tips for Improving Communication with Clients
These tips can help improve your communication’s timeliness, clarity and effectiveness to help you achieve higher client satisfaction rates. They’re not too difficult to implement, and if you use them regularly, they’ll start to feel like second nature.
1. Provide Prompt Responses to Client Inquiries
Responding to client communications promptly is crucial for a high-quality relationship. For starters, prompt responses are simply polite. It’s not very considerate to leave your client waiting on you to answer their emails.
Additionally, a quick response time helps your clients feel like you’re invested in their projects. Having to wait a long time to hear from you may make clients feel like you’re not prioritizing them. On the other hand, people who respond to emails quickly – even just to acknowledge receipt of a message – seem more reliable.
Even so, you probably don’t want to spend hours reading and replying to emails if you can help it. Creating pre-written emails you can quickly edit to fit specific situations, known as ‘canned responses,’ can help speed up the process for you. This can decrease your response time without forcing you to sit and stare at your inbox all day.
For example, you could write a confirmation email to let clients know you’ve received their message and will reply in more detail soon. You can insert placeholders for details such as the client’s name, and the date and time by which you’ll send the full response. Then, whenever you need to confirm an email receipt with a client, you’ll just select your canned response, edit the placeholders, and send it off.
Of course, you could use canned responses for any emails you have to send out frequently. The sky’s the limit! The only requirements are that a canned response saves you time and enables you to respond to clients faster.
2. Practice ‘Active Listening’ to Avoid Misunderstandings
Active listening is a practice designed to help better understand what’s being said during a conversation. It involves paying close attention to the emotions of the person you’re talking to, and ensuring you’ve interpreted what was said in the way it was meant to be understood.
One active listening tip is asking open-ended questions. For example, asking for a client’s overall vision for a project will better help you see the anticipated end result from their point of view. Leading with questions such as, “You want me to include X in the final product, right?” are more likely to impose your ideas on a project than show you what the client wants.
Another key is reflecting back on your interpretations of clients’ statements to ensure you’re on the same page. Let’s go back to our previous example, where you’ve asked the client for their overall vision for the project. Once they’ve finished explaining their ideas, repeat those ideas back to them in your own words, and ask the client if you’ve understood them correctly.
Additionally, try to note signs of dissatisfaction or other negative emotions from the client throughout the project. Checking in with them could help you fix issues along the way. You might say something like, “You seem anxious about Y aspect of the project, is there anything I could do to reassure you?” Your client may not feel like they can bring the issue up themselves and appreciate your attentiveness even more.
Active listening can prevent misunderstandings about what clients want from you. This will make it easier for you to deliver projects that meet or exceed client expectations. This brings you happier, more satisfied clients, ultimately leading to more projects and income.
3. Ask Questions for Clarification
When assuming you know what a client wants or needs, you’re more likely to get it wrong than you are to get it right. It can be tempting to act as if we know what’s best for a client, especially when we want to impress them. However, such assumptions could prove disastrous when it comes time to deliver the finished project, and you might end up being criticized.
Criticism isn’t the end of the world, but you should most certainly do your best to prevent it. In his guide on handling criticism, Vito Peleg (the Founder and CEO of Atarim) says that one of the key parts of preventing criticism is to overcommunicate.
“You may bore your client a little bit, but they will most certainly appreciate you doing your best to deliver the best results you can.”
If a client makes a request you don’t understand, make sure to ask clarifying questions. There’s nothing wrong with being unsure about something. Plus, clients would probably prefer to explain things to you upfront than have to request a revision based on misunderstanding their requirements.
To take this a step further, try starting off every new project with a set of standard questions. You can create a list of open-ended questions for clients and save them as a canned email response. Then, at the start of every project, you’ll have a tool for fleshing out client expectations ready to go.
When you’re creating your questions, try approaching them with the mindset of seeing the project from the client’s perspective. You’ll want to know how your project fits in with their overarching mission, what challenges they hope the project will solve, and who they imagine it will help.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow your established business, maintaining effective communication with clients is necessary for success. Strong communication can help increase your client satisfaction and help you ‘nail’ the job correctly from the off.
In this article, we’ve discussed three key tips for improving your communication with clients. To recap, these pointers can help:
- Provide prompt responses to client inquiries.
- Practice active listening to avoid misunderstandings.
- Ask questions for clarification.
How do you approach communication with your clients? Share your tips in the comments section below!
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