We love our clients! Not to mention, without them we wouldn’t exist. As a result, we have put a lot of effort into fine-tuning or client communication to give them the best possible experience. Today, we are sharing some of what we learned so that hopefully you can apply it to your own client communication process.
Use the right tools
As a remote team, the communication tools we select to talk with our clients are very important. One of the biggest things we have learned is that clients like to communicate in different ways and we need to have the tools to accommodate them. For example, we have one client that likes to chat via Slack and prefers shorter more frequent communication. However, we have another client that prefers all communication to come through email and for messages to be longer and less frequent. Rather than trying to force the client to change how they operate, we do our best to adapt. We also developed our own client dashboard where clients can login and see the progress of their project in real time.
Manage the frequency
When working with a new client, you should discuss expectations for the frequency of communication. If you know you are going to need them to respond to your questions 3-4 times per week, be upfront about that. Additionally, if you do weekly check-in emails, find out when the best time is for your to send them. For example, a client may tell you that a Friday afternoon email could go unread and become buried so they would prefer communication first thing Monday morning. The most important part of this conversation is setting expectations and sticking to them so the client isn’t left wondering why they haven’t heard from you and also isn’t feeling overwhelmed by the volume of communication.
Consider your tone
Since most of our communication is via written, asynchronous channels, it can be a bit harder to get the right tone across. We do not have the advantage or nonverbal cues or the spoken voice. To combat this, we have all gotten in the habit of giving our communication one extra read through to detect any areas where our tone might be misconstrued so we can make adjustments. Additionally, when we do have the chance to speak on the phone or via video chat we make sure we come across as upbeat.
Listen actively and read between the lines
As an agency hired to do client work, one of our biggest strengths is being able to figure out what clients want. However, what they say they want and what they actually want is not always the same thing. We rely on active listening and take time to process what our client has said in order to get to the root of what they want. For example, the client may be saying their website looks too “old.” It is our job to derive from that what the real problems are. Is their logo outdated? Is their homepage layout from the early 2000’s? Or is it their site navigation that needs to be updated? We need to listen carefully and think critically to flush out the full story.
Know how to say no
At Kuvio Creative, we have strong company values and sometimes we have to stand up for them with our clients. However, when we do have to say no, we present it in a way that is positive and respectful. We explain the reasoning by our decision, provide alternatives, and are open to having conversations. This allows us to work in the way we believe while maintaining positive client relationships.
Try to keep threads of consistency in your communication so that clients know what to expect. This can be through your methods, frequency, and tone. As human beings, we don’t like surprises so do what you can to keep your clients in the loop on what to expect.
Watch out for jargon
Our clients are not web designers or developers, that is why they need us! So, we have to remember that they are not familiar with the language or processes of the industry, in the same way that we aren’t always aware of the details of theirs. Keeping this in mind while communicating makes the process easier for everyone.
Include a summary
One of the best ways to ensure that everyone is on the same page is to summarize or paraphrase what the client has said back to them. You may think this could come across as clunky or awkward, but you would be surprised how many times doing this leads you to realize everyone wasn’t actually on the same page like you thought they were.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
This may be the most obvious, but also the most important, tip from the list. Nothing ruins your credibility like the occurrence of typos in your writing. You work hard to build trust with your clients and you do not want simple mistakes to degrade that. We like to double or even triple check the spelling of the client's name and pay close attention for sneaky grammatical errors. A tool like Grammarly is helpful in catching mistakes. Additionally, if you are copying and pasting content into an email be sure that the formatting is updated so that everything looks cohesive.
We hope these ideas help you to strengthen your communication with clients. Do you have your own tips? Share them with us on Twitter, @KuvioCreative.
Kuvio Creative is a full-service, remote web design and development agencies that uses our creativity and skill to develop online solutions that give you more time to focus on the work you love.
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