Client communication is a key part of a company’s success. Good client communication can help improve customer expectations, boost conversion rates, and increase loyalty and retention.
Find out more about why client communication is so important and the 12 best practices you can use to improve your business communication skills.
Why Is Communication Important in Business?
A positive professional relationship with your clients is essential to your business’s success. A good relationship keeps clients coming back and increases sales and referral rates. Creating quality professional relationships is only possible when you are able to communicate.
How Can You Communicate with Clients?
One of the first steps to improving client communication is by understanding what forms of communication are available. By being comfortable with a wide range of communication, you can ensure clients get important information in the way they want—and in a manner that’s appropriate for the message you’re sending.
Forms of effective business communication with clients can include:
- Conference calls
- In-person meetings
- Traditional mail
- Social media interactions
- Web-based chats, direct messages, and instant messaging
12 Best Practices for Client Communication
Here are 12 best practices to help you improve your business communication skills:
Improving business communication skills doesn’t start with talking more—it starts with listening.
Rather than rushing to solve problems and address objections right away, stop and listen. Ask follow-up questions and get the full picture of what your clients are trying to say before you create a solution for them.
When you prioritize active listening to fully understand your clients, it helps them feel like they are important to you and gives them the support and service they are looking for.
2. Be Transparent
You don’t have to give out the recipe to your company’s “secret sauce,” but emphasizing a healthy amount of transparency helps build trust. The more customers know about your process, product, and results, the better aligned their expectations will be.
3. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
When something doesn’t go to plan, don’t hide it. Instead, be honest, transparent, and proactive about the mistake.
Clients value honesty. While there might be some initial anger about a missed deadline or a hiccup in service, it is always better to proactively address problems when they happen.
Honesty will build trust by showing you are responsible and are tackling issues head-on instead of sweeping them under the rug.
4. Meet Clients Where They’re Comfortable
Clients have different personalities and styles. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all communication plan. Some might love daily updates about their projects via email and will quickly respond to every text or instant message, while others will only want a formal monthly or quarterly presentation.
Rather than forcing your preferred way to communicate onto a client, modify your communication process to match their individual needs and styles. Personalizing communication starts at the beginning of the professional relationship. Establishing these ground rules will help your client feel valued and improve trust.
5. Establish Boundaries
Just like customers should feel comfortable with how you communicate, you should feel comfortable with how they do as well. A common mistake is to let the client have sole ownership of establishing boundaries and expectations. While this empowers the client, it undervalues your business and can quickly lead to discomfort.
Boundaries are there to establish a standard for your client while also protecting you. Boundaries can include:
- How and when clients can get in contact with you
- Whether you respond to communications after hours or on the weekend
- A schedule for how fast they can expect a response
Establishing these boundaries can be hard for some clients who expect you to always be on call and instantly respond to every message, but it is an essential step in creating a lasting client relationship.
6. Send Fewer Emails
Transparency is important, but some businesses go too far by communicating too much. Excessive communication can be just as dangerous to a professional relationship as no communication.
Consider your own email habits before sending out emails. Do you read every email in detail? What about automated emails from Netflix or Hulu about their most recent movie release? The more frequently you send emails, the less likely clients will read every line, making it easy for important information to get overlooked.
7. Schedule Weekly or Biweekly Meetings
Emails, texts, instant messages, and other digital forms of communication provide instant connections, but it’s almost impossible to have a meaningful conversation. Meetings give you time to present new information while also having the opportunity to have a dialogue to hear feedback and learn about any new pain points.
8. Respect Their Time
Communication should always be purposeful. Don’t waste your client’s time with unprepared, unedited, or unrefined messages. Taking the time to create clear, concise, and polished communications will show that you value their time and reduce any confusion about what you are trying to communicate.
9. Use the Right Communication at the Right Time
As we showed earlier, there are a lot of forms professional communication can use to communicate with your client. Take the time to choose the right format that works best for your message. Just like some meetings could be an email, some emails are better as a meeting.
10. Be Human
Automated emails, text messages, and AI chatbots can speed up how you communicate with clients, but they should be the first step toward a person-to-person dialogue. Automated communications are not personal, and they don’t help create a meaningful relationship with your clients.
As you communicate with clients, don’t forget you’re trying to establish authentic connections with them. Being overly professional will create a hyper-sterile environment that feels disingenuous and fake.
11. Don’t Overpromise
It’s tempting to stretch the truth when communicating with a client to make your business appear better than it actually is. It might be okay to be hyperbolic when telling a fishing story, but it is never appropriate to stretch the truth or lie to your clients.
Deceiving even one client can impact your business for years. Former clients will write online reviews and talk to other potential clients about their experience with your company and can stop new clients before you even are aware of them. The truth will always come out, and the short-term benefits are never worth the long-term losses of credibility and trust.
12. Don’t Forget the Golden Rule
Before you initiate any form of communication, remember to follow the golden rule: Treat your clients the way you want to be treated. This simple rule will help keep communications meaningful and build stronger professional relationships.
Communication in business is important, especially with clients, but what happens when tensions rise and you’re dealing with a crucial conversation? Be prepared for those conversations where each minute carries lasting consequences by learning more about Crucial Conversations training from VitalSmarts. Find out more about how you can transform even the most sensitive conversations into an effective dialogue.
The ideas expressed in this article are based on the skills and principles taught in Crucial Conversations. Learn more about Crucial Conversations