When you run a service-based business, the relationships you establish with your clients are key.
Without loyal customers who buy from you again and again, you wouldn’t have a business! Even better, loyal customers often refer others.
Any relationship that stands the test of time needs to be based on mutual trust and understanding. Business relationships are no different. That’s why in order to build and maintain long-lasting ties with your customers, you need to invest in the way you interact with them.
So, how do you best communicate with your clients? And what impact does client communication have on your business?
What do we mean by client communication?
Client communication is an umbrella term that includes any type of interaction you have with your clients - past, present (existing), or future (prospective).
Communication can take many shapes and forms. It can be formal or informal, written or spoken, and can happen over a variety of platforms or mediums.
All the emails, phone calls, or progress updates you share with existing clients are a fundamental part of how you strengthen your relationship with them.
The way you communicate overall - as a brand - matters even before you’ve converted your prospects into paying clients. The content you produce and put out into the world has the potential to show your audience that you’re knowledgeable and experienced - that they can trust you.
So when thinking about effective communication, don’t forget your marketing! The content you create and the words you use (i.e. your tone of voice) can help your prospective clients decide whether you’re the right business for them.
How client communication improves your relationship with clients
Communication is what helps you build and maintain the trust and understanding you need in order to create long-lasting and profitable business relationships. Make client communication a priority, and your business will grow.
Let’s flip this concept on its head for a minute, and consider what poor communication could do to your business.
Imagine a prospective client getting in touch with an email enquiry, and they never get a message back. Or a brand new client asking a question that goes unanswered after they’ve paid their invoice and decided to take up your services. Or even an existing client with a query about the service received that you never respond to.
It’s easy to see that in these unfortunate scenarios, that prospect would never turn into a paying customer. Also, it’s unlikely that those existing clients would leave you a raving 5-star review, buy from you again or refer anyone else!
Lack of communication can damage the bottom line of your business. And without an effective way to communicate with your customers, you can’t turn your prospects into clients. Similarly, you can’t onboard new clients effectively, or generate great testimonials and repeat business.
In other words, without satisfied, loyal clients who buy from you again and again and tell everyone they know about you, your business would struggle.
Effective and prompt client communication, on the other hand, helps you build trust by showing your clients that you:
- Understand what they want and expect from working with you.
- Care about their problems and needs and are committed to providing effective solutions.
- Want your clients to feel valued, trusted, and satisfied.
Strong client communications allow you to build lasting relationships with your clients. Make interacting and working with you easy, and you’ll improve your chances of receiving repeat custom and referrals, thus growing your reputation and your company in the process.
Key skills to communicate effectively with clients
Effective client communication depends on a few very specific skills — keeping them in mind is a good way to build successful client relationships. Here are the critical communication skills and client communication practices for you and your business:
- Active listening: Do you give full attention to your clients when they are speaking? If not, you better start doing it in order to truly understand your client’s perspective.
- Empathy: This one goes hand in hand with the first skill. By putting yourself in their shoes, it’s easier to tailor your communication to address clients’ needs.
- Conciseness: Effective client communication requires delivering messages clearly and concisely.
- Non-verbal communication: Cues like facial expressions, body language, and gestures complement verbal communication. Being aware of non-verbal cues helps in deciphering clients' unspoken messages and responding appropriately.
- Patience: Some clients require more time to articulate their problems. You can build trust if you approach them with due patience.
- Adaptability: Being flexible in your communication approach helps you stay on the same page with different types of clients.
Client communication best practices
If communicating with clients plays such a fundamental role in your business, how do you ensure that your choices hit the mark?
Here are a few principles you can follow.
1. Make it about your clients - not about you
There’s something to be said about your clients getting to know, like, and trust you before they commit to doing business with you.
But that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to hear your life story. They don’t need to find out about all the awards you’ve won and every single contract you’ve ever worked on. When a client is seeking out your services, remember that they have a specific need or problem.
And they need you to solve it.
So whenever interacting with your clients (prospective or existing) focus on how you can help them. It’s a great way to demonstrate your extensive knowledge and experience without blowing your own trumpet.
2. Respect your clients’ time
Your time is precious. But so is your clients’. So whenever you communicate with them, be clear and concise. Without being rude or blunt, go straight to the point.
For example, before launching into lengthy and potentially unnecessary explanations, ask your clients what they need. If they require more information, they will tell you. Be respectful and give them options, so they can choose the most effective way for you to deliver any content to them.
While a long email might not be the right answer, a short and well-planned consultation probably will.
3. Treat them how you’d like to be treated
We are all too familiar with this old adage. But sometimes when we’re working under pressure, putting out metaphorical fires in the office, and trying to get through never-ending to-do lists, the stress can inadvertently get to us.
Remember that your business exists because of your clients.
Don’t point fingers at people or yell or anything like that. When interacting with them, strive to be positive, friendly, polite, and approachable.
Even on those days when doing that feels like the hardest thing to do! Your business benefits from the professional relationships you build and maintain with your clients. So don’t forget to treat your customers in the nicest way possible.
4. Listen to your clients
As a customer, have you ever experienced the frustration that comes from not being listened to or understood? You probably have, and the feeling isn’t great. So don’t be that business.
Even on the busiest and most manic days, give your clients your full attention when interacting with them. This isn’t the time for multi-tasking! Don’t interrupt, take notes if appropriate, and try to ask relevant open questions to elicit more information from your client where required.
Equally, don’t feel the need to fill every silence. If you think your customer may want to add more to the conversation, give them the space to do so. By actively listening, you will be in a stronger position to provide better customer service.
5. Pay attention to the details
Relationships thrive when all parties involved feel trusted, listened to, and treated with the due respect and dedication. So how can you show your clients that you care? By paying attention.
Be mindful of what your customers are saying, of what they are not saying, and take note of any information they may share with you.
This means summarizing or paraphrasing your understanding at the end of a meeting or call, for example. And if you’re face-to-face with your clients, consider the importance of ‘reading the room’ and tuning into non-verbal exchanges too.
Before sending an email or a written report, double-check and proofread them. Look out not just for grammar and spelling mistakes, but for content too. Have you explained a concept in the most efficient way? Or is your content likely to trigger more questions from your customers?
And finally, pay attention by showing your clients that you value them. Be the business that doesn’t misplace or ignore any emails, content, or requests for assistance or information. If you want to find out more about how Content Snare can help with that, check out our tour.
Related: How to brief a communication agency
7. Be consistent
When you look at all the ways you interact with your clients, are you being consistent? Do all your client communications help you deliver a satisfactory customer experience?
In order to review the way you communicate with your customers, take a step back. Think about your brand - your vision, your mission, and your values.
- What do you want your clients to take away from any interactions with your company?
- What characteristics do you want them to associate with your brand?
Once you’re clear on what these are, ensure they reflect into any exchanges you have with your clients and encourage everyone in your business to follow the same blueprint. This helps you ensure that all clients and projects receive the same level of care and attention.
7. Actively build your client communication skills
If you want to improve the way you communicate with your clients, make communication and relationship-building an integral part of what you do.
In order to create and maintain long-lasting professional relationships with your customers, actively invest in improving your company’s communication skills. Here are some things you can do:
- Frequently review the content and quality of your client communications
- Create clear guidelines and principles that your team can adhere to — this could be in the shape of a client communication plan or a client communication strategy that everyone in your business can follow
- Ask your clients for feedback and take their views on board to improve on what you do
- Invest in external training and professional development opportunities
- Use client communication tools and software (more about this in the following section)
Client communication tools and software
Using client communication tools can make interacting with your clients easier while also reducing the possibility of errors. Several types of software are available on the market, and the best choice for you will depend on the size of your company, your client base, and your business needs.
Client communication tools can help with:
- Planning and tracking.
- Managing and collaborating on projects, workflows, or tasks.
- Communicating with teams (internal) and clients (external).
How to choose a client communication tool for your business
When selecting a piece of client communication software, ensure that it meets your specific business requirements and objectives.
For example, do you need a tool to help you manage communication with clients, or are you more interested in hosting conversations internally between employees and teams? Are you looking for a client communication tool that doubles up as a project management solution, or would you rather use software that integrates with the existing systems you use?
Once you’ve narrowed down your aims, here are a few tips to help you choose the right product for your company:
- Ensure the client communication tool you choose has a simple, intuitive design. The last thing you want is to make interactions more complicated for your staff or clients.
- If you’re using other systems, make sure the piece of software you choose either integrates easily with those or doesn’t get in the way of using them.
- Actively look for ways to simplify and improve client communication. If you’re investing in specialised software, make use of its available features to build on your existing processes and workflows.
Improve client communication with Content Snare
Content Snare can help you improve client communication by making the process of gathering information from clients fast and painless.
Our software streamlines the content creation process so you can move your projects forward with ease. At the same time, Content Snare provides an easier solution for your clients to share information and content with you, which, in turn, allows you to build better relationships with your clients.
Here’s what you can do with our tool:
- Collect information from clients using built-in request forms and templates that you can customize and re-use with multiple clients or projects.
- Schedule and automate follow-up and reminder emails to clients ahead of deadlines.
- Handle internal projects when no client communication or collaboration is required.
- Review and approve content within teams or external clients.
- Ensure no content is lost by managing client communication within the tool - the days of email trails and massive attachments are over!