Communication is the essential element to any relationship. While we all know this to be true, it can be challenging to keep lines of communication open, especially in the fast-paced business world. In this blog, I’m going to provide six tips to help keep communication lines open with your clients that will foster healthy relationships for the long haul. I’ll discuss what works best, share lessons learned and provide some best practices that haven’t let me down yet.
Here are the six communication tips that are essential:
1. Establish Communication Paths
At the infancy of a client relationship, it’s important to establish the role of each contact and how they are going to be supporting the initiative going forward. Once you’ve established this, ask them how they prefer to receive communication from you. Is it email, face-to-face meetings, phone calls or even texts? Is there a particular day or time of day that works best to connect with them? These are the necessary questions to facilitate a smooth communication flow from the get-go.
2. Communicate Effectively
There are different types of constituents we communicate with on a daily basis and what we discuss with each varies. It’s important to know your client and deliver the right information each time. For example, when you communicate with an executive team, they want to know high-level metrics and see how they are getting an ROI on your product or service. When communicating with your day-to-day contact person, you should communicate a variety of messages, including a simple check-in, a brief business review, a full analysis of their account, or sharing research that relates to their success and can help them reinforce best practices. These types of outreach maintain your presence with the client on various levels. You want your client to see you as a partner and someone who provides value.
Provide as much information as possible to your client and keep them informed — always.
3. Be Transparent
Throughout your client relationship, being transparent is the golden rule. Provide as much information as possible to your client and keep them informed — always. If you do not receive communication back from the client, then keep following up. I’ve learned you can pester people more than you think because most people are juggling a full schedule and receiving at least 100 emails a day. For the most part, they will appreciate the follow-up.
4. Qualify Your Contacts
Some of the biggest challenges can be dealing with a dysfunctional team and their lack of communication. It’s a red flag when your new contact on the client side is someone who doesn’t want to adopt your product or service, or doesn’t have the authority to make decisions and/or influence others. When this happens, it’s important you qualify your contacts and be creative on how you get to the right person. Continue to communicate with executive contacts and don’t make the assumptions that communication on the client side is efficient or you run the risk of starting off on the wrong foot. Know your audience and whom you are targeting.
5. Take Trouble Tickets to Heart
Don’t forget to assess the trouble tickets your company receives to improve communication. Are clients asking for new user licenses, which could mean growth with the company, or is the client constantly asking for new passwords, which could signal high-turnover and potential trouble with business? Use this information to evaluate the health of the overall relationship with your client.
6. Track Communications
Use a CRM to track the communication you’ve had with your client, including any personal information that can help to strengthen the lines of communication. They will appreciate when you take the time to ask about their vacation or their daughter’s high school graduation. Perhaps an acquisition may be in the works, in which case it would be appropriate to ask about the progress of it. These small details are hooks for conversation and can help create a deeper relationship.
Being a good communicator is a powerful skill, and one that will serve you well in nearly all situations. Remember: if a client is uncommunicative, don’t panic. They are very busy and have other important things on their desk. It is possible to communicate frequently without being a bother, as long as you are providing value with each reach-out. This will help to ensure that you maintain a healthy relationship with your clients