by Donna Toothaker
Effective client communication is a crucial element in running a service-based business, yet it is often overlooked in favor of things we think are more important, like client work. However, it is so important for clients to feel as though they are in good hands, to know that work is getting done and progress is being made, and not to have to worry that things are falling through the cracks. This is achieved through clear, consistent communication. Take some time to review the way you communicate with your clients. Are you proactive or reactive? Are you over- or under-communicating? Have you set expectations about how you will communicate with clients, and how they should communicate with you?
Good client communication begins with setting expectations. From the moment you begin with a client, you need to be clear about how you will communicate back and forth. Set a date for an initial call to clearly outline your strategies and goals for the project, and to solidify the lines of communication between you and the client. Discuss their preferred communication style, and be clear about yours.
Do you prefer e-mail or telephone communication? Are you available after normal working hours? How do you handle last-minute requests? Whatever your communication style is, you should always give your clients more than one way to get in touch with you. So, even if you do most of your work and communicating online, assure your client that they may also call you if that is their preference.
That said, it is also crucial to set boundaries from day one, so that clients know when, where, and how NOT to contact you. Nobody wants a call to their home phone late at night or during family times if it’s not an absolute emergency. Set a reasonable time frame in which you will respond to questions or requests, so that you respond promptly, but your client is not inadvertently trained to expect you to be on call at all times.
Keep clients in the loop. Be proactive. Let your clients know everything, before they have to ask. Don’t let them wake up in the middle of the night to worry whether you are getting their work done. If they don’t like constant emails with status reports, then use a project management tool and put the information there so the clients can check on things on their own time. Simple, free online programs like Dropbox and Google Docs allow you to share and update information easily and instantaneously. Consider setting aside time, once a week, for a short conversation to update your client and answer questions they may have.
Communication is everything. If clients have to ask about how a project is coming along, communication needs improving. If a client has to follow-up with you or your team about something, it needs improving. If a client has to wonder if something got done, it needs improving. If a client is calling you at all hours, it needs improving. Doing great client work is only one way to service your clients. Consistent communication is an invaluable service that will make them feel secure and build their trust.
Donna Toothaker is CEO, founder and coach of Step It Up VA Coaching, and the creator of the 6 Steps to 6-Figure VA Success System. These highly sought-after VA coaching programs have been created for established, successful VAs who wish to create the 6-figure business of their dreams. Visithttp://www.stepitupva.com to receive the free report, Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid in Creating a 6-Figure VA Business.