In the view of the customer, the experience they get when dealing with your company is rapidly overtaking your price and product as the main point of differentiation. If you’re not already paying attention to customer experience, it’s time to start looking!
A big part of customer experience is communication. How are you communicating with your clients and leads? Communication can shade the way your clients view everything you do, whether you’re giving them great results or not. It’s worthwhile to give your communication strategy a thorough inspection and refine it as necessary.
Here are a few recommendations on where to start:
1. Make a Plan
Communication plans aren’t clunky bureaucratic nonsense. You may think you can handle communications on your own, but a plan takes the stress off you and your team and sets the standard for how things are done. These plans outline how you and your client communicate, who's responsible for keeping in touch, and when you should expect to communicate with each other.
Any communication plan you make should be tailored specifically for your client relationship. Maybe there are regularly scheduled updates and meetings or specific events that require you to alert them.
2. Follow Through & Follow Up
When you tell someone you’re going to handle something for them, do it. Follow through as quickly as possible when you give your word. If the follow-through is going to take a while to lead to the desired outcome, let them know what’s happening and what to expect. Don’t put your clients in a position where they feel left out of the loop as if it’s their responsibility to constantly harass you to get anything done!
If after speaking with a client you’ve delegated the issue to someone else, follow up with that person or with the client to make sure they’ve gotten what they needed. Following up on issues that were brought to your attention is a great way to get ahead of bad customer service situations. It also shows your clients that you’re listening and paying attention to their needs; a big win for you.
3. Be Organized
Whatever state your client’s team is in, you should always be organized and composed. This means different things for every company, but the general idea is that you can’t communicate efficiently if you don’t have a good handle on what’s going on for yourself.
Here are a few ideas for more organized communications:
- Document any agreements you’ve made with the client
- Use task managers to organize workflows of overlapping tasks
- Clearly establish who is responsible for every task (with a timeline maker)
- Maintain your CRM and keep it up to date on client developments
- Outline standards to your staff for professional conversations
- Take minutes at meetings and record what you’ve discussed with clients
4. Use the Right Tools
Communication tools are always an issue. Each client might have a totally different preference. Do your best to accommodate what your client is comfortable with rather than forcing them to use your preferred tools.
For smaller clients, you may have to keep a flexible approach and adapt to the easiest communication platform for them, be it email, Brosix, Slack, WhatsApp, iMessage, or another SaaS software. Make a note of this in the communications plan (point #1 above!).
For larger clients and long-term clients, it may be worthwhile to set up a more permanent setup like call automation tools or business phone systems. You may want to take some time to train them on how to use your enterprise instant messaging system or a specific productivity app. With a standardized approach, you’ll be able to guarantee easier communications and make sure nothing gets overlooked.
5. Don’t Fear the Phone
While this point is related to using the right tools, it deserves a little more emphasis. Younger working people may have an aversion to phone calls with clients, preferring online communication, but not all clients agree with that approach.
With some demographics of clients, a phone call is still the fastest and easiest way to reach them. If you have clients who prefer a phone call over anything else, find a way to make it work. Phone calls may not be pleasant for everyone, but keeping your clients happy is a worthwhile reason to push through and just do it.
6. Always Be Prepared
Don’t come to meetings or make phone calls unprepared. You can’t anticipate everything, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Come up with a list of potential questions your client might ask and the answers to those questions. Bring any questions you have for them to clear up confusions.
Meetings work better when you come with your agenda in mind so you can sort through the important stuff quickly. If something was brought to your attention that you weren’t aware of even after your preparation, let your clients know you’re going to follow up on the issue and make a note of it for next time you work on a similar project in the future.
Communication might be a small part of what you actually do for your clients, but it can make or break your customer experience. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward whenever you talk to your clients.