How to Effectively Communicate with Clients
Mastering the Art of Written and Verbal Communication to Build Client Relationships
When it comes to choosing the right method of communication for you and your client, never just assume one form. Your preferred method of communication may not be as effective with them as their preferred method. This can be especially true if they’re used to a different way of communicating with their vendors. Effective communication is the key to a successful business-to-business relationship, but how do you accomplish this when using written or verbal communication?
Accessible almost anywhere and used to communicate nearly anything, email is the prominent source of written communication in the business world. Here are a few handy tips for following proper email etiquette:
- Keep it Professional: Avoid using emoticons and emojis, even when communicating via Facebook or other social media platforms. Those little smiley faces take away from the overall message of your email and are simply just too casual. Unless you’ve already developed a more personal relationship with your client, it’s best to avoid everything from emoticons to .GIFs. Abbreviations, such as “btw” (by the way) and “ttyl” (talk to you later), and slang terms should be avoided at all costs. Profanity is also a major “no-no” in the world of email etiquette. If at any time you feel you cannot express yourself in a professional manor, walk away and give yourself time to cool down before forming your response.
- Stay Short and to the Point: Your clients aren’t staring at their screens, waiting anxiously for your next novel. Like you, they’re busy with other tasks. If you have questions, create a bulleted list. Only include relevant information, and don’t exhaust your readers with massive paragraphs. Separate your paragraphs with double breaks to make them easier to read. If you need to include charts and graphs, consider attaching a PowerPoint or another document instead of creating an endless stretch of information in one email.
- Proofread: Always read your messages before clicking “Send.” It’s common to omit words; we think faster than we type. Double-check your formatting and stay away from using fonts that may not appear on all screens. Remember proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure influence your credibility.
Verbal communication is just as important as written communication. It includes telephone calls, video calls, and on-site meetings. Here are a few simple tips to improve verbal communication with your clients:
- Know Your Audience: Proper grammar and tone are essential to your professional persona. Once you get to know your clients individually, you’ll gain a better understanding of their personalities and how to effectively communicate with them.
- Confirm Meeting Details: Double-check the details. Recording the date and time helps you maintain a clean schedule with little risk of overbooking yourself. Double-booking can lead to more stress and loss of credibility with the client whose meeting you’re forced to postpone.
- Keep a Professional Appearance: Dressing for your company culture won’t always match that of your clients. Keep in mind the minute details, too—a bumper sticker of your favorite rock band is not the most professional addition to your laptop. Also, your bathroom may have the best acoustics in your home, but it’s not the ideal location for Skyping your clients. Your body language says a lot about your personality, as well. When attending meetings, never come off too forward or touchy-feely. It’s important to respect personal space and maintain a professional posture.
Effective client communication can make all the difference in your business relationships. It’s important to maintain a professional relationship with clients so they know you mean business, but getting to know a few personal details never hurts. Following these tips is sure to boost your credibility and your relationships with your clients, creating a win-win for all parties.