It’s a common mistake among marketers not to give any thought to client communications. Or should we say this is one thing they just ‘wing it.’
Well, a lot could go wrong with this approach. First, the clients you attract have their share of expectations. For instance, according to a recent research finding conducted by Hubspot, 82% of your prospects expect you to respond instantly to their queries.
Expectations abound in this field of marketing, and the best way to address them is by learning to communicate effectively with your clients.
Some things are inevitable. Something happens, and your team misses a deadline – what do you do? You schedule an appointment with a client, but they fail to show up – what do you do? Your client is bothered about something and reaches to you for clarification – how do you handle it?
More commonly, how do you talk to a dissatisfied client? At the heart of every form of human interaction, there’s communication. And whether you believe it or not, how you handle client communication can either make or break your business.
Looking to grow your sales, get repeat business, and increase your number of referrals? The least you could do is learn to communicate with your clients more effectively. Do you want to reduce the number of frustrated customers? Or perhaps you’re more interested in reducing the number of negative feedback.
It all starts by training yourself to communicate with your clients in the right manner. In which case, you’ll need some quick pointers or primers to help you out with this.
Luckily for you, we’ll be listing all these tactics for you to read through and factor them all in your next communication assignment with the clients you attract. So, how about we save each other’s time and get straight to it?
Be keen on how you use your tone
You don’t just spill words when talking to a client. There’s a way to frame your conversation and tone.
You might have the right things to say, but until you work on how to say them, that little interaction won’t do your business any good. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a client over the phone or in-person; don’t let your tone betray you.
Even more important, don’t let your current mood get in the way. If anything, simple logic demands that you remain both polite and upbeat all the time. Your tone must be neither low nor too high.
A simple trick would be to imagine that you’re speaking to a very respectable person – without the anxiety, of course. Some of them may be annoying, lush out at you, and even raise your hackles, but it’s upon you to figure out how to maintain your cool.
In other words, you shouldn’t allow your emotions to get the best of you under any circumstance. It’s that simple.
Be Friendly and Professional at the same time
Don’t be stilt with words. Your clients will appreciate you more if you maintain a friendly tone with them.
Your personality doesn’t matter when it comes to this. If your communication skills are nothing to write home about, then the least you could do is hire someone to help you out.
Learn to stay positive all through the interaction. Be friendly and personable. Here’s the thing: treat every single one of your clients like an old friend you’ve just met. Ask them about how their day was and, without wasting time, get straight to the point.
And while at it, be sure to keep everything professional. You may be tempted to digress and throw in some light banter. But make sure it’s related to your line of business or the concerns your client has.
Be careful with how you say ‘NO” or disagree with a client
No one enjoys being turned down. So whenever you find it hard to agree with a client’s terms, don’t be quick to utter the word ‘NO’ blatantly. If possible, try to avoid using it at all.
And where you’re out of options, and you have to use the word, be at least sensitive enough to apply some tact.
For instance, if a client asks if you’ll be able to complete a certain task by a certain date, don’t tell them no. Instead, be polite enough to use something in the lines of: “I don’t think we’ll be able to complete the project by that date, however fast we try to rush. Mind adding a week on top of that.”
“I’m sorry. There’s a lot to be done about this project. I don’t think I’ll be able to meet your deadline.”
Practice Active Listening
A good conversation demands that you learn to listen keenly. Be attentive and only speak when it’s necessary. Don’t interrupt when a client is talking. Instead, give them time to explain themselves or the nature of the problem they have before you can chime in with your contribution.
Your role in this is to respond to what a client is trying to ask. Make sure you’ve understood the question or heard their concerns before responding. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say next. If you’re confident about what you do, then it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with the right response.
Human’s have a short attention span. And their minds roam from time to time. So you might want to teach yourself how to concentrate. Get your mind off your business or any other distraction for that matter and focus on the issue at hand.
Another common mistake marketers make all the time is giving their clients undivided attention. If you’re in the middle of something, explain yourself more politely to the client and let them know that you’ll get back to them at a certain time and if they’re okay with it.
Where a client has a lengthy issue, take notes. Note down the main points of their concerns and offer feedback. Where you can’t come up with immediate feedback, ask the client if they can give you more time to digest everything before reaching back with a response.
Be consistent with Your Response
Once you initiate an interaction with a client, you have to make sure you’ll be hanging around until the conversation ends. Don’t disappear on your clients. If you have to take some time off, let them know that you’ll be available again at such a time.
Also, be consistent with your style of response and the tone you’re using. If you decide to be friendly, don’t switch off in the middle of a conversation and be garrulous. This will create an impression of a flip-flopper, which happens to be the last impression you want to be sending out.
The first few exchanges should make a client develop some expectations. This is the tone and attitude you should adopt throughout the interaction. It’s also the tone and attitude to use on the rest of the clients during your interactions with them.
Visualise your brand. What values does it reflect? That’s how you want to be portrayed by the client. It’s also how you’re supposed to act when talking to your clients.
Adapt their Style
Don’t force your clients to adapt to your style. Instead, be flexible enough to take their style and language.
For instance, if you find that your client has a very formal way of expressing themselves, then you have to adjust your language and style and take a more formal approach. Again, if it turns out the client is more playful or casual, do the necessary and take a more friendly tone.
The whole point is to create a room for connection with your client. You don’t have to be an entirely different person or pretend to be something you’re not. Rather, develop flexible communication skills that could go a long way to help you establish a strong bond with your clients.
Be keen on how you format your messages and emails
Don’t just write email responses or messages for the sake of it. You have to be more strategic with the approach that you take, the styling, and most importantly, how you format it.
The point is to make your email more readable. So the style you adopt must be one that leans more towards succinctness. Use lists whenever you can. And remember to bold important words and phrases.
Also, keep your paragraphs short — preferable not more than three sentences long. And make sure there’s ample spacing between the sentences and paragraphs. In brief, the reader must be able to understand the gist of your messages by just skimming through it.
Be Clear and Concise
It’s safe to assume your client will only have a minute or two to spare to read your email. They don’t have the time to go through huge chunks of block-like texts trying to find what you’re trying to say.
So why not cut straight to the chase and drive the point home in the most direct way possible. Take a summary approach, where you compress everything in a few short paragraphs. Use plain language. And most importantly, don’t be vague or try to act coy with them.
Of course, your clients understand that you’re doing business. They know what lies at the end of the bargain: the fewer words you use to express yourself, the better for both the client and you.
Learn to use these two words “thank you’ and “please.”
You’ve probably heard someone insist on why it’s important to make your use of these two words your second nature. But you took them lightly.
Well, we’re here to remind you why you ought to adopt them permanently and learn to slip them into your conversation with every little chance you get. Sadly, we have to keep on repeating the most basic of the things you already know.
Ever wondered why waiters thank you all the time or use the word please whenever they want to serve you. Of course, that’s how they’re taught to respond to clients. But for what, you may ask.
Well, these two words are a symbol of respect. ‘Thank you’ expresses gratitude, while ‘please’ indicates that you respect your clients enough to ask for their permission before you can go ahead and do something.
You’d be surprised by how much these two words could influence a decision a client is about to make. So don’t be afraid to over-use them. It doesn’t matter how many times you throw them in a conversation. The point is to make sure that you’re always using them whenever you’re having a conversation with a client.
Try to simplify everything for your clients
You don’t know much about your client. You don’t know about their education background. You also don’t know about their level of understanding with regards to the message you want to send to them.
But what you do know is that they’ll be able to decode a message that’s written in the plainest of language one can use. You may be tempted to throw in some big words or industry jargons but what’s important is that the client understands your message.
Make everything as easy as ABC. Where they have to read a lengthy article to understand something, give them a link directing to that article.
And before you schedule a meeting with any of them, take your time to walk them through the issues you’ll be addressing so that they won’t be caught unaware. Your client’s time is of the essence here. You’re simply interested in saving a huge chunk of their time by making everything easy for them to understand.
By now, you should know the type of questions to expect. If not, make some rough mental estimation of what may prompt a client to want to talk to you.
Be sure you know how to respond to these questions before you set out to meet the client. If you can’t place a finger on what they’re interested in, revisit their email and read it again. Are they interested in further explanation? Do they have a project that they’d want you to handle?
The closer you get to figuring out what your clients want, the more you’re likely to be more efficient with the responses you give.
The Final Thought
In brief, learn to treat your clients with respect, and they’ll reward you with loyalty. By respect, we mean, you should respect every aspect of their life. Respect their time, understanding, resources, and everything else.
That’s the secret for effective client communications. Or you could borrow a leaf from us. Find out how we do it by talking to one of our customer representatives at MediaOne marketing.