Great communication with your client is not only a wise idea that helps things go smoothly and saves you both a lot of time, it can also help to resolve most, if not ALL difficulties, mistakes and arguments.
You may, if you haven’t already, end up with an extremely difficult client who is impossible to work with for some reason. They are definitely out there (in more ways than one). So knowing when to cut your losses and fire your client is important too.
But this post is about going the extra mile (or it only takes an extra few feet really…) when it comes to communicating with your client. It has a number of positive effects on your whole business.
Why it’s good to keep them informed
You know what it’s like when you yourself have messaged someone, or have chased someone up, but are getting no response… Even with non-business related stuff such as wondering why the item you ordered on eBay hasn’t arrived yet. It can be irritating, frustrating, and distracting.
Your client has paid you money for your service and, even if they don’t expect an update on your progress, they will be very grateful to know what is happening, and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
These little things matter a lot.
Regular (within reason) updates for your client go a long way to making the difference between you and other service providers they may have dealt with in the past, who they had to keep chasing up etc.
How often you update them depends on your type of work, or the project in hand, but just use common sense and put yourself in their shoes. Basically, keep them informed, so that they always know what is happening.
Simplify things with a communication system
Systems are crucial to the productive running of your service.
The suggestions below don’t need to involve a lot of work/time setting up. You could prepare a system for each stage of your client relationship as it happens, with your next client. Save that whole system for future clients, and refine things as you go.
In the case of communications, make sure you know the process of communicating effectively and efficiently with your client – from the moment they become a client.
- How can you onboard them (get things started) in a crystal clear way that makes their life easy? Have a defined process for this.
- What is the sequence of events that needs to take place for both the client and yourself to bring about not just an efficient service/project, but a brilliant, memorable experience. Have defined steps for this.
- What happens when a project is completed? Establish a system for giving your client any extra help or guidance going forward; asking them for referrals and a testimonial; making it easy for them to share news of the successful project (and link to you) on social media…
- Part of the communication system should be knowing when, how, and how often to follow-up with your client after the work is done. To check on how they are, and whether you can help them further in some specific way.
Figure out early in the relationship how your client prefers to communicate.
Do they prefer email, phone, using an app, social media, or something else?
You may have a preferred method yourself, but it helps your client a lot more by using the communication method/s they’re familiar with, or use regularly.
Not only does it make a good impression, it facilitates good communication because you’re more likely to get a response from them when you need one.
Do you even care? It works both ways!
You should genuinely care about your customer and, if you’re a B2B service, their business.
If you don’t care enough for your customers and their needs or wants, it will show. A lack of interest in them or their business will be obvious, and only leads to mistrust, or a cold experience with you, and no great desire to work with you again in the future.
Granted, you are here to make money, but ‘giving’ is the big secret path to ‘getting’…
Caring about your customer comes naturally when you communicate well with each other. And as you communicate more, you learn more about them… What they like, what motivates or demotivates them, and even what they’re up to at the weekend.
As the work progresses, you can figure out not only what they ‘want’ you to do, but what they might unknowingly ‘need’ to help them with their overall objectives. Learn how you can help them more than with what was initially required, and introduce them to additional or complementary services you can provide…
This all helps to create a good experience with you, and your client is more likely to want to reciprocate and show their appreciation (if your work is good too!) by giving you reviews/testimonials, sharing your service with their network/following, and more.
Resolve problems more easily and painlessly:
Caring about your customer also helps if difficulties or problems arise.
Complaints and misunderstandings can be resolved more readily if you’ve already shown you are actually invested in them and their needs, and you have both developed some genuine rapport.
Good communication, and a mutually enjoyable relationship, make all the difference when it comes to you enjoying your daily work!
And finally, you must lead the communication
Communicating is a two way street, naturally, but in a business relationship, you can’t rely on the client to give you the information you need, chase you up, give you essential feedback, and so on.
You, as the service provider must be responsible for keeping the communication flowing well.
Taking the lead in the process also sets you up nicely to lead them onto the next steps in your continuing sales process. I.e. guiding them into recommending or referring you to other potential clients, giving you a great testimonial or review…or upgrading, or using more of your other services!
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