Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

10 Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

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Exploring: Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients . It has been repetitively said that communication is key. Whether a business is looking to initiate new business or grow relationships within its existing book of business, effective communication is the driving force in helping companies moving their business in the right direction.

Communication should be seen as ongoing starting from the first phone or email contact with a prospect to the completion of a project or throughout the course of your relationship.

It is comprised of many components, many of which are highlighted below. Following these ten important tips will help your company cohesively form a communication strategy that is sure to win over both new and existing clients alike.

1) THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

Just as it’s been said the best offense is a good defense, the same can be said for communication. Sometimes the best way to reach out to people is simply by listening to them. Clients will never be shy about expressing their needs and concerns. However, a lot of times companies have well developed sales approaches that don’t take into account the dynamic nature of client relations.

It is a good idea to know your strategy and have it firmed up; however, an essential part of that strategy should be formed around listening to what the client has to say on a regular basis. Good listening skills not only allow you to collect valuable information necessary to assist a client and answer their needs, but it also demonstrates sensitivity and understanding.

Listening will set the tone for the rest of your communication. It will direct your efforts. By actively listening to clients, you’ll know the best way to communicate with them. Whether through email or phone, listening skills will foster the next steps in client relations. This can not only help businesses fine tune their sales and implementation techniques but it will also help to create a long term client relationship, increasing visibility, referrals and market share.

Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

2) EMAIL ETTIQUETTE

Email has become the most effective and efficient way to communicate within the workplace. Almost 88 percent of all Internet users in the U.S. use email. This information comes from a survey conducted by the UCLA Center for Communication Policy (The UCLA Internet Report: Surveying the Digital Future. UCLA Center for Communication Policy. 2001).

According to the same survey, approximately 90 percent of those who use the Internet at work use it to access business email. It has provided its own unique set of issues to learn to navigate. Although, intended to be used to communicate ideas and concerns, as well as, respond to needs as they arise, if not used correctly email can lead to miscommunication resulting in negative consequences.

The use of email can have a dramatic impact on business, a powerful communication tool. Establishing an email protocol ensures that the client message remains on point and is done so in a The key components to this would be acknowledging emails in a timely matter, using appropriate tone and making sure to check each email for any spelling or grammar errors. Clients often may not notice the extra effort taken to deliver the perfect email; they will, however, be quick to point out any errors, miscommunications or poorly written emails.

3) PHONE ETTIQUETTE

The phone brings a real time approach to client interaction. It allows you to get the true pulse of how a project is headed or what a client needs. Having a team with proper phone skills are essential to any successful business. It isn’t just a matter of picking up a phone and dialing the numbers; it is about having a productive, meaningful and engaging conversation.

A good phone conversation has three key elements

1. The call should be uninterrupted and quiet – It should go without saying that the best place to call a client is from a quiet office and not from a mobile phone in a convertible. However, with technology allowing us to be accessible 24/7, sometimes a quiet office may not always be available. Still though, it is essential to find a location that will allow the topic of the call to be the focus and not background noise. If it is necessary to step out of a room or take a few minutes to find a location, let the client know they will receive a call back shortly. It is better to get back to them in reasonable time then for either party to be distracted.

Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

2. An agenda should to be in place – It is not always the case that a formal agenda needs to be typed up and distributed ahead of time; however, there should always, at a minimum, be an outline of what needs to be taken care of during the conversation. In busy settings, it is important to take time to check in on clients, but also important to be aware of their time constraints too. A focused call will help achieve this. The tone of a call can be as formal or informal as needed; however, it still needs to be driven by objectives and follow-ups.

3. Follow-up – If necessary or requested, it is a good practice to send a follow-up email thanking the client for their time, reviewing the hot topics of the conversation and putting in writing any requirements that need to be addressed in future calls. This gives another opportunity to show clients that by active listening, their needs are being heard and their goals are being worked towards. It also allows an opportunity to clarify any issues or questions that may have come out of the phone call, but still require more information.

4) DEFINE THE PROJECT

Entering into an agreement with a client is the basic function of business. Someone sees a need and decides to fill it. Months are spent creating the perfect branding and marketing plan in preparations for opening the doors. The hard work of running a business is rewarded in the success of expanding a client base.

The most important aspect of doing just that is making sure that the needs of the client are met in the most effective way.

So often a client needs one thing and through a series of miscommunication and internal meetings, the client ends up receiving something other than their vision. Instead of being a business that revisits these issues in postmortems, a proactive way to solve this client killer is to develop a well defined project plan.

Having a definite project scope with appropriate follow-ups will help alleviate the stress of finding out mid course that the client is on a different page. Defining scope can be as simple as meeting with a client to review the basic needs to as extensive as hiring and assigning a project manager to work with the client in a creating and sign off of formal scope document. The level of defining scope will be dependent on the size of the project and the needs of the client. This also goes back to the importance of actively listening.

By taking time early in the process to actively engage the client in what it they require will help to firm up the understanding of the deliverable they are expecting. Putting the communication effort up front, can also be cost effective as there will be less potential for work spent trying to ‘fix’ issues as they arise. A successful project is one that continually moves forward. Moves laterally or backward are financially draining for both client and business owner.

Communicating scope at the beginning of the working relationship ensures that each day the project is active it is moving forward to both the benefit of client and business alike. In the end, a project that is defined will leave less room for error and more opportunity for repeat business and word of mouth referrals.

5) MAKE DEADLINE

Hand in hand with defining project scope is honoring the commitment promised to the client. Scoping out the project ahead of time will allow proper resource allocation to be towards the project from the beginning. Just as time is money for you, the client is dependent on your word to complete their needs in the time promised.

A delayed project not only adds more payrolls to the business expense, but it delays the end goal of the paying client. Whether the business makes t-shirts, hosts websites or performs online trading, the client is dependent on the expertise of the business. One component of that expertise is the ability to listen to the needs the client is presenting and turning that into a functional timeline.

Your business is making money off the needs of the client, however, the client is dependent on a promised turnaround in order to make money. A client is going to seek to hire those companies that not only provide the services they need but do so in the most cost effective manner. They will be taking into account not only price point when making a decision with who to work, but also turn around time.

A business is only as good as its reputation. And its reputation is solely based on that of its clients.

Communicating with clients on what they can expect is only half the battle; letting them know when they can expect it is the other. Everyone knows that not all projects are delivered on time. In fact only a small percentage of projects come in on time and under budget, so although hopeful most clients will be aware that there will be variables beyond control that can push a deadline.

However, how a company communicates that information to a client can be the difference between an angry client and a delayed yet very successful project. Any successful business knows that there will have to be a fair share of adjusting to situations as they present themselves; going into projects clients will be aware they may need to shift from time to time, open and timely communication to them will allow them to make the changes necessary.

6) EXPRESS NEEDS

Working with a client is a mutual relationship. Just as the client is expecting certain things from the business, it is expected that the business will have certain needs for the client. From the onset of the project through its completion, communicating on what is needed from the client will have a direct impact on how things progress.

As it is with the client conveying their requirements, taking the time to freely communicate expectations, concerns and preferences will help create a dynamic approach to the project and help build trust and rapport with the client. Communicating has both an immediate and long lasting impact. Instantly it sets the bar high for the project and lets the client know that they are working with a company they can trust.

7) ADMIT & CORRECT MISTAKES

Throughout the course of a business relationship with a client there are bound to be situations when what the client wants or expects is not done to the client’s expectations and, in turn, satisfaction. When things go amiss, it makes good business sense to take the time to review what went wrong and why. There are going to be times the ‘why’ is because the business made an error.
Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

Never be afraid to step up to the plate and let the client know an error was made, and more importantly that it is being corrected – immediately.

Communicating issues with the client allows them to see that they have selected a company that both sees manages issues as they arise and doesn’t try to cover them up. It is often said that it isn’t the lie that befalls a man, but the cover-up. The same sentiment can hold true for businesses.

It isn’t the error that will hurt your relationship, errors happen; however, an attempted cover-up, denial or lie will have negative implications that can harm the ongoing project, as well as curtail any change of future projects with the client.

There will also be times after careful review it is determined that no real error was done, rather the client miscommunicated, change scope or is just being difficult. Inevitably at some point everyone will run into this situation; the edict, “The customer is ALWAYS right” applies here.

Treat the client as if they are right, even if it means gritting your teeth. Although easier, and often more rewarding to point out no error was made taking that approach, this will not move the project forward. Getting into a back and forth with a client on who was right and who was wrong can stall a project and create a new wave of issues to deal with.

There is no reason to admit fault during these situations, however, a skillful business person will listen to the needs of the client and communicate the desire to fix the issue. Taking steps to rectify the situation without admitting fault will keep the project moving along and will satisfy the concern of the client.

At this point it may become necessary to add more check-in emails or meetings with the client to help alleviate this type of problem in the future. And the good news is once the project is over it the decision can be made to avoid future relations with the client.
Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

PROJECT TRACKING

As the start of the project nears it is a good idea to have a kick-off meeting with the client to review expectations, deadlines, scope, billing, and any other variables that will be tracked over the course of the project. Structuring expectations of the project from day one will help minimize confusion as the project begins to roll out.

One way to do this is to track all components of the project and provide the client updates along the way. For example, remember to track all time spent on the project; if billing is by the hour, make sure to send the client updates.

No client wants to be surprised by a large bill due to miscommunication of time spent working on the project. Keep the client abreast of the time it is taking to move the project forward, by communicating with them, it allows them the opportunity to make adjustments if necessary and will help to avoid any payment issues on the back end.

Also track as much of the client communication as you can too. A good system keeps track of every communication with the client and solves the “didn’t you get my email?” problem. An overall tracking strategy also allows you the freedom to provide feedback to the client on a moment’s notice. If they have questions as to the amount of time, the cost, or the overall efficiency of the project, it will be easy to provide them a quick response addressing all of their concerns.

9) LET IT ROLL OFF YOUR BACK

The business world can be tough. With the best team leading a project, the best efforts in place and the best outcome resulting, there are still going to be situations where it just isn’t good enough for someone. Even with all the best efforts put forward, inevitably a client will ask for a report to be worded a certain way or for a logo to be in neon yellow and orange.

Provide them a professional opinion of what better, however remember at the end of the day (and budget) it is their project and as discussed earlier, ‘the customer is always right” Criticism is bound to happen at all levels of the project, from the client to internal meetings, try not to take it personally and think of criticism as an objective opportunity to make the project better. The more often criticism is presented; the easier it will be to keep it in check, remember its importance and to use it as a tool to move forward.
Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

10) CUSTOMER SERVICE | CUSTOMER SERVICE | CUSTOMER SERVICE

If as if they say, ‘location, location, location’ are the three most important variables in deciding where to start a business, then ‘customer service, customer service, customer service’ are the three most important to keeping it up and running. Communication is the core component to providing top notch customer service. From the moment a prospect calls with an inquiry into the services provided to thank you notes, communicating is the best customer service approach to let the client know they matter are appreciated.

One of the most important customer service skills is the ability to understand and effectively respond to the customer’s needs and concerns. Excellent customer service starts by first taking the time to get to know the customer, his situation, his vision, his frustrations and his goals. Providing great customer service is not difficult nor does it require a lot of effort.

Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients
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What good customer service requires is a belief in the philosophy that the business is dependent on the client, and in turn will work to make sure the clients needs are the most important thing. Clients want to work with those businesses who demonstrate a sincere desire to help them with anything they need, and they are willing to pay for it. Yes, they want products to work and services that meet their needs. More importantly though, they want someone to care when something goes wrong

Everything discussed thus far in this article lead up to this point. By following the tips as outlined above, you are essentially creating the manual for a customer service plan. It’s important that every member of the team be on the same page with customer service. Proper training complete with guidelines on best practices will make sure customer service is consistent across the company. Making the clients feel appreciated and listened to will keep them coming back for more and in a lot of cases will bring new clients right to the doorstep.

Looking over this article it’s easy to sense a general theme established in the first sentence.
Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

Communication is key!

Communication is the most important tool that a business has to establish, grow and maintain a client base. Communication is found in every aspect of business. In fact it is not just in every aspect of day to day operations; it is the core of them. We are never more than a click or number away from talking to someone about what is needed and how it is going to be delivered.

Technology provides the necessary functions of phone and email. These key tools are used daily to follow up, host meetings, and provide ongoing updates and, if used properly can be used to turn any project into a successful one.

Communicating is not just practiced with clients, internal communication helps to create a team that works within the philosophy the customer is always right. Building a business based on that philosophy, in turn creates a culture that is based on excellent customer service.
Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

Ongoing training keeps all staff up to date with the protocols of the company and makes sure every interaction with a client at each level of the business is the best it can be. Internal communication can also be found by using a third party tool that will help track client communication, helping to avoid issues of lost email or poor follow-up and allow the business to continually improve internal methods.

With clients looking to get the best service for their money, it behooves companies to focus on continually evaluating and improving communication as needed. The tips in this article are a good starting point for companies to review and discuss. Not only do they outline the importance of communication, but they create a basic protocol, that if followed, will help companies firm up a strategy for client communication, training and internal tracking. Easy Steps For Better Communication With Your Clients

Communication can be seen as the most important tool a company can have. It touches each level of the organization and each client it works with. It is the key to making sure that the efforts 

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