One of my amazing clients reminded me recently why open communication is key to success in business. After some misunderstandings, we were able to keep the lines of communication open to find a result that met the project needs, the client's needs. It wasn't about me showing her how what I did what going to work, but rather understanding that it was not done in the manner she wanted.
What I offered was positive customer service.
Taking the frustrated tones and recognizing that it was simply a communication error was key to finding the solution to meet the client's needs. I do not take criticism personally, as what I am working on is not my own. This client has trusted me to help them put forth the best to reach their clients and project their brand. It isn't about what I wanted or how I wanted, but rather what was in the best interest of the business I was serving.
Finding a method to communicate effectively with clients will make your job easier and more successful.
What processes do you have in place to communicate with your clients? Do you have a process? Do you make it easy to communicate with your clients? If you want to be a success, the answers should be YES. Creating a system can be simple and done at no additional cost.
1. Set up a time to connect with your client regularly. Specifically, if you have an extended contract in place. Making communication a priority is important to maintain a working relationship as well as completing projects in an effective manner. You may have a general understanding of the tasks on your to-do list, but if you don't keep the client up-to-date on the progress and any sticking points along the way the project may not be complete on time or end with a positive result.
2. Once you have a to-do list in place, repeat it back to them to make sure you understood the instructions clearly. I learned this one the hard way. Finding out I missed a key point in the expectations set by the client after I was done with the work was very time-consuming and costly. The product was delayed and my timeline doubled. Not a way to make a good impression. Knowing that both parties are clear on the objectives and expected results will make for a more successful collaboration.
3. If you have reservations, just ask. If something seems to not work or you think there needs to be changes to the end product, ask before you complete the work. The unasked questions are what lead to lackluster results and a dissatisfied client. Neither of which help build your business. Opening that communication by stating you need further clarification shows your concern and respect for the client and the end result.
4. Be flexible in your method of communication. There are those clients who are more than satisfied to exchange information by email or messages, while others need to talk with you on the phone, video chat, or meet in person. You may have a favorite of your own, but if you have a service-based business, keep all options open. Showing versatility and the desire to get the best end result will more than make-up for any lack you feel using any communication method. Just do it - and the client will respect you for stepping up. There are great tools available that provide options to meet both you and your client's communication needs.
5. Set clear boundaries. You may have a business with time limitations. Be sure to hold to your boundaries and not allow a client to push you to be available at hours that don't correspond with your schedule. Of course, flexibility is always appreciated, but not the point it impedes your other commitments or sleep schedule. Clients may attempt to communicate outside those boundaries, but by adhering to your schedule they show they respect you as well.
We all want to provide exceptional customer service. To do so means setting the example by having your communication plan prepared, clear, and concise. By all means, offer suggestions and other options when things seem to fall apart. By setting the example, you are providing the best customer service to your clients and making success the only option.
Need examples of communication plans - reach out to me for methods.