Ever get frustrated trying to set up a time to chat with your clients?
Do you wear out your thumbs trying to get in touch with them via phone, email, text, Skype, or Slack, only to find they still don’t respond to you?
Novelist E.M. Forster famously said to “only connect,” and his wise words are just as true in business as they are in personal relationships.
After all, talking to your spouse about what’s bugging you is the most important thing you can do in a relationship—if you cut off communication, you can expect your home to fizzle with unreleased tension.
The same is true for business relationships.
If an agency doesn’t take the time to understand your company, it can’t deliver positive results.
Discrepancies in trust can have a seriously damaging effect on client relations.
If you aren’t transparent with your clients, you won’t deliver value.
Create Effective Client Communication
Likewise, effective client communication can head off misunderstandings and conflicts before they arise.
Even better, it can improve the vibe in your workplace and make you a productivity rock star.
Sometimes I think back to the bad old days when our company didn’t have specific processes set up for client communication.
We wasted all kinds of time sorting through emails, chats, and Trello cards trying to figure out what everyone wanted.
Putting a defined process in place made client communication much more simple and more cost effective.
More importantly, it got everyone on the same page right from the get-go.
When your customers know they are being heard, everyone can feel warm and fuzzy—making them more likely to stick around.
On the Right Foot from Day One
Good customer service heavily depends on your client communication.
When conflicts arise, the solution is often as simple as communicating to uncover the problem.
Then keeping dialogue as long as it takes to find the right path toward long-term relationships.
Remember to ask them how they’re doing and always follow up.
Send a survey at the end of a project to see how you did, and you’ll find your clients come back to you again and again.
Make Your Client Communication Work Smoothly
Whether a client has been with you forever or is just beginning to forge a relationship, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that lines of communication are set up for success:
- Give a guided tour. When onboarding a client, make sure you introduce them to the communication tools you’ve established. These tools can help show the client you are accessible and that their project is your top priority. For instance, shoot them an invite through a tool such as Basecamp, and then send a follow-up email offering a 10-minute call to show them around. At the very least, give them a heads-up about how you plan to send them updates over the coming days, so they never feel out of the loop.
- Provide a compass for wanderers. If the client starts deferring—for example, asking for change orders in their email instead of Trello—guide them back to the proper protocol. Remember, just as there’s no perfect client, there’s no perfect agency. That’s why both of you have to respect each other’s opinions and speak up when there’s a problem.
- Keep up the cadence. Try to arrange weekly client meetings. Face-to-face sit-downs are way more personal than phone calls, and an efficient meeting sends a strong message to the client that their project is important. But even if looking each other in the eye isn’t an option, meeting consistently helps ensure your client will be on the line when you need them.
There are dozens of communication processes to choose from—our team loves the coordination offered by Slack and Trello.
But no matter what method you choose, get it up and running with clients as soon as you can.
This way, when clients come to talk to you, you’ll already be all ears.