Successful communication is key to any healthy relationship, and your business clients are no exception. Establishing boundaries and clarifying expectations as soon as you start your business journey can help you avoid conflict and misunderstandings, and ultimately boost your retention rate simply thanks to your transparent approach.
However, even the best in the business can come across a more demanding client, an unexpected complaint, or merely a misunderstanding. In any case, you need to be able to resolve the issue quickly and efficiently without wasting your assets – and this is where your communication skills come to shine. Let’s see how you can set the stage for clear communication without your key messages getting lost in translation.
Keep it short and sweet
It doesn’t matter what industry you specialize in or where your clients come from, chances are both of you are short on time. If not short, then you definitely don’t need any time-wasters and you’d rather spend your time productively than reading a semi-pointless email the length of an essay. Too much information via email often means that your clients might not read carefully or focus on the content, as they’d rather skim through to get the gist.
By being concise and to the point, you will be able to convey the most important message to your client without the fluff. From the earliest stages of your relationship, you’ll get a better sense of how and when they like to communicate. Use that info to tailor your emails and messages to meet their needs. Some prefer bullet points, others like two-liners, and many would rather set up a quick video conference to summarize their needs.
Remain consistent and persistent
As you start your relationship and learn about every person involved as well as their style of communication, make sure to stick to the same approach for the duration of your collaboration. Your tone of voice as well as the language you use, whether friendly or formal, should remain consistent throughout your relationship.
When you encounter an obstacle such as a clash in creative opinions or a timeline issue, this will ensure that your relationship remains unaffected by the temporary setback, whatever it may be. In case your clients are in touch with different departments of your business, make sure that all members of your team are able to convey the same tone and language in order to retain a consistent brand image.
This is one of the key areas in which you cannot afford a misunderstanding. From setting clear contractual obligations on both ends and outlining specific deliverables all the way to defining a schedule of regular updates, the purpose of your collaboration should be clear from day one. If you cross paths with a client who has an issue with regular payments, you need to have a strategy on how to deal with unpaid invoices and still preserve the relationship with your client.
Not every aspect of your communication might be a pleasant one, but you need a contingency that helps you deliver your promise to the client and ensures that they uphold their end of the bargain. Contracts are there to clarify the terms of your relationship, but ongoing communication is what helps maintain that bond over time to ensure mutual respect.
From your very first interaction, every client needs to be aware of how available each member of your team will be, as well as the appropriate channels of communication. Not every business offers 24/7 support, especially when such a service isn’t necessary, in which case your client needs to understand when and how they can reach you. Even when working with a client in a different time zone, setting up a weekly and monthly schedule should be more than enough to keep all parties apprised.
Demanding clients may feel entitled to text you every day, call you in the middle of the night, or ask for more than was originally defined by your agreement. As you get to know them, you need to stay adamant and refuse to let any client bully you into agreeing to anything unreasonable.
Clients always appreciate if their partner of choice goes the extra mile. In case of your communication, they will notice and value your effort to anticipate their needs, questions, and attend every meeting prepared. Relying on up-to-date data, using research-based suggestions and getting to know their preferences will let you show initiative from the get-go.
Such a proactive attitude shows a desire to save their time and expresses understanding of their needs, while it also showcases your capabilities. While it’s not possible to attend every single day-to-day meeting with such a detailed agenda, those weekly roundups should show focus and intention. Simply put, preparation is key to a successful meeting to be able to communicate effectively and stay focused on your milestones.Ultimately, successful communication techniques will allow you to decide whether or not you and your clients are the right match, and whether or not you should build a long-term relationship. Aim to perfect how you interact with your clients and you’ll always be able to connect with the right people and build stronger bonds in the future.
Guest author, Emma Worden is a startup funding consultant from Sydney, Australia. She enjoys reading and writing on different aspects of entrepreneurship, usually finance and marketing. If you want to read more of her work, you can find it at https://bizzmarkblog.com/
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