Client love guide – communication


One of the most obvious ways to communicate with your clients is via email — and likely the way that you’ll communicate most. The great thing about email is that both parties have record of the conversation to refer back to, but that can also be a con. When it comes to communicating in writing, remember this double-edged sword.
Making your clients happy through email can also make your life + job easier. One of the biggest changes I made in my business was communicating with clients the way that I wanted them to communicate with me. Leading by example for my business meant succinct emails with bulleted or numbered lists. If a client sent me a giant email of word vomit, I found my eyes glazing over + oftentimes had to either print the email out or bring it into a text document to highlight/edit so that I understood all of the pieces. No one wants that.
Another way to make your clients love you through email often comes by actually emailing them. It’s shocking the number of folks that make an effort to tell me that they love knowing I will respond to their emails. And think about it, how frustrating is it when folks seem to “fall off the face of the earth” after a couple of emails back + forth? Or what about those that you submit a contact form message or question to only to never hear from them at all? It sucks! So don’t do that to your clients — whether that means replying to emails in a timely manner or preemptively emailing them by giving them an update before they ask for it on longer-term projects.

Phone or Skype

If you’re anything like me, email is your preferred method of communication + thinking about phone calls makes you a little uneasy. While email can be fast + less intrusive, sometimes a phone call can answer questions more quickly, efficiently + with less misunderstood emotion.
We apply tone to emails more often than we admit, but on a phone call, you get to hear the implied tone. You also get to ask questions, make sure things are being understood + remind yourself that the person on the other end is, in fact, a person. In our digital age it can be overlooked that we are dealing with other human beings, but a phone call or Skype video session reminds us of that.
Your clients will likely feel heard + appreciate getting to connect with you “face-to-face” {on skype} or voice-to-voice. If we apply tone to emails from clients, you can bet they are applying tone on your emails to them. And they might be applying a very different tone than you intended.

Text message

On the opposite end of the spectrum from phone calls are text messages. These short + sweet alerts can be perfect ways to communicate quick or important tidbits. For example, if a client’s site is down + I’m working on fixing it, they will often ask for a text when it’s back so they know the second the problem is solved. Or if you know that your client is away from the office on a speaking gig but they need to know when their new social media campaign has been posted, you can shoot them a text.
This method really requires clear boundaries. For me that means using my business number for texts {not my personal cell phone number} + making it clear to clients when texts are ok. And of course, I make sure that my client is ok receiving a text from me — because they have boundaries too.

Chat programs

Similar to text, there are numerous chat programs that help facilitate faster conversations between teams + clients. I personally use Slack with a few folks + love it. But this could also include project management solutions that have a conversation thread or even Gchat through Google.
The clients I use these with love that they can get a hold of me typically within minutes + don’t need to draft an email to ask a quick question or two.
Like text, these are short messages, but they are closer to phone conversations in that you can have realtime discussions together. However, you aren’t able to get tone through these methods, so there is still the possibility of misunderstandings.
Since using these chat programs, I’ve noticed that they open you up to blur the line of when you are working + when you are not a bit more easily than email. I have Slack installed on my iPhone + get alerts whenever anyone sends a message. Which means if a client wants to message me at 8 pm on a Saturday, they can + I’ll get an alert for it. This is different than an email that I am unaware of because I’m not in my inbox. Similar to texts + phone calls, it can be tough to ignore alerts when you are “out of the office” because they’re right there on your phone.

Set expectations

The moral of the story with client communication, no matter what style you prefer + work on, is to set expectations.

If you are constantly emailing your clients at 9 pm at night, they will start to expect it. If you send them a text after each task is complete, they will expect it. If you respond to chat alerts on the weekends, they will expect it.
If you break your own rules, don’t be afraid to let them know — “I was catching up on work last weekend, as I’m sure you can relate to needing to do sometimes, but now that I’m caught up, my weekends are strictly for family + friends.”
Or maybe you are trying to break the 9 pm habit + want to let your clients know. You could send an email that says “I’m going to be revamping my work schedule to better suit my client’s working hours. This means i’ll be available between 10 am + 5 pm most weekdays and only available for urgent matters outside of those hours.” And don’t be afraid to set boundaries on what urgent means, whether that’s charging double your hourly rate or only allowing for a certain type of task.
As long as you are clear + communicate these things with them, both you + your clients will be happy.

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