5 Ways to Master the Art of Client Communication
As a freelancer, you’re in charge of making sure client communication runs smoothly. And even though it might sound easy, managing relationships effectively can be tricky. But it’s a big factor in whether or not you’ll get more work.
According to Small Business Trends, 65% of your company’s business will come from existing customers. So it literally pays to nurture your client relationships.
Plus, oftentimes you won’t be working face-to-face with someone when you’re freelancing. This means it’s even more important to focus on healthy, consistent communication to make sure everyone’s on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your communication running smoothly, so you can build solid client relationships.
1. Talk their language
When you’re talking to clients, avoid using technical jargon or industry terms that they won’t recognize. Otherwise, they could feel left behind, or like you’re not on the same page. Instead, talk to your clients so they can understand you. If there are specific or complicated industry processes involved, take the time to break it down for them so everyone’s clear on what’s happening and they still feel like they have control of the project. By giving them the information they need to take the lead, you’ll leave a great impression and help build a comfortable working relationship.
2. Use the right form of communication
One of the biggest challenges of staying in touch with clients is the fact that a lot of freelancers work remotely. That means face-to-face contact is at a minimum. You can solve this by having important meetings over a more personal medium, like video chat or a phone call. Tone and emotion can get lost over written communication like email and chat, so it pays to set aside the time to have a conversation over the phone or on video. Plus, it will give you the chance to go back and forth to clarify questions without a confusing email chain. For more standard emails, reminders or quick questions, using email and chat work just fine. Before you contact your client, think about which method of contact works best in that situation.
3. Ask questions
If you want to keep expectations clear when dealing with a client, the answer is simple: ask a ton of questions. Trust us—even if you think you’re asking too many questions, the client would much rather give you answers than deal with longer timelines, extra rounds and a bigger budget that goes along with confusion. This is especially true for when you’re getting client feedback. So fire away with those Q’s! You’ll look a lot smarter in the long run if you get all the answers you need to do a great job.
4. Be prompt with replies & clear on timing
To create a positive relationship, your clients need to be able to count on you when they need it. To help achieve this, set working hours from the beginning of your relationship. Clearly communicate when you will and will not be available to create boundaries. This way your client will know they can count on you during certain hours and you’ll also have time set aside for your personal life.
Once you’ve set your hours, make yourself available during those times. Follow up promptly to any requests and emails, and be clear if there will ever be delays to timelines. The more you make yourself available, the more your client can rely on you, which could lead to more work down the road.
5. Be friendly and approachable
Last but not least, be nice! Building a relationship with a client isn’t much different than building a relationship with anyone in your life. If you’re kind, the client will be more likely to like you and you’ll build a bond that can cross over into your working relationship. Take the time to get to know your client on a personal level—you don’t always have to be “all business.” And an added bonus? You might just get a new friend out of it!