Clear, effective communication is nothing less than an art. Whether it is personal or professional relationships, effective communication between two parties ensures there are no misunderstandings or ill feelings. However, if you feel that client conversations can scare the hell out of you, you are not alone.
Many business owners/ \service providers struggle to maintain steady communication with clients or often end up losing clients for saying the wrong things. Let us go over some major points that can help you improve conversations with clients.
1. Be Clear and Concise
When talking with clients, remember that your ultimate goal is to effectively communicate your message to them. For this purpose, it is best if you stay to the point and be as clear as possible. When you use multiple long bodies of text or difficult sentence structures, meaning can get lost between the lines.
On the other hand, if you choose simple sentence structures and words, and remain concise, it will help clients understand you better.
2. Use Less Jargon
This is connected with the first point. Often, specialists or service providers can make the mistake of using a lot of technical vocabulary/specialized terminology when communicating with customers. Some do it out of a misguided belief that it sounds more professional, whereas others simply don’t know better.
Your role as an expert is not to impress clients with your deep knowledge of complex processes, but rather to talk with them in a way they understand, and which addresses their issues and pain points. Often, customers want to know how you will help them, not what goes in that process.
3. Ask and Answer Questions
For any two people to really understand each other, it is important to have an exchange of question and answers. Nowhere is this truer than in a business relationship. If your client has not provided enough or relevant details, feel free to ask them specific questions to get more information. When you ask genuine questions, the clients usually appreciate it as it translates into interest and active effort on your side.
At the same time, be prepared for questions from the client’s side. These will generally be on the same lines, where they will want to know your procedure, work ethics, previous work experience, charges, and timeline. If you can anticipate these queries and prepare your replies beforehand, communication will become easier.
4. Choose an Appropriate Tone
A key to good communication is adopting a friendly and positive tone. While what you say is quite important, how you say it is just as important. It does not matter if you have a very energetic and bubbly personality or a laid back style of talking, communicating with clients is like wearing a mask which allows you to come out of your comfort zone and adopt a persona that appeals to the client.
With the right tone, you can put your client at ease, establish rapport and a mutual air of respect.
5. Be Attentive
If you were pulling an all-nighter for an upcoming exam or a presentation, dozing off in the middle of the night could be quite harmful. Trying to work when your phone keeps on ringing is also quite difficult. Similarly, communication with customers will be hindered if you are at a noisy place and are unable to pay attention to what the client is saying.
Being distracted can also lead you to provide wrong information, make hasty decisions, or miss out on important details. Ideally, you should communicate when you are in a peaceful space and can give full attention to the customer.
6. Be Consistent
Once you have taken up a certain tone and pattern of interacting with your clients, continue to keep it up. Don’t go from friendly conversations to a stand-offish style of speaking. Be in touch with your team members to ensure that everyone handles client conversations with the same level of seriousness and responsibility.
Also, keep in touch with your clients throughout your work relationship and inform them of everything continuously. Keeping up consistent conversation builds up your brand reputation. Additionally, knowing that you are always a message or call away helps clients trust you and increases their satisfaction.
7. Mirror Their Language
Every person has a unique style of conversation. And when they go to some business owner or specialist, they take that way of speaking with them. As a service provider, your job is to make your client feel comfortable and at home. One way to do this is by mirroring the way they speak. For example, if a client communicates in a strictly formal manner, then you need to continue all future conversation with the client in the same manner.
If, however, they are friendly, like to joke around, and talk in an informal manner, you can also loosen up a little and talk more casually. Doing this means you are making the client more comfortable, and also giving a subconscious message that you understand and can help maintain their brand voice. You should remember though that even if the customer becomes too frank, you are required to maintain a degree of professionalism.
8. Don’t Get Angry
While mirroring your clients’ tone is a good idea most of the times, there are situations when you must avoid it. When the client is angry, lashing out, being rude, or otherwise unreasonable, instead of adopting the same tone or attitude, focus on being in control of your emotions and try to deescalate the situation. Most clients become reasonable when their criticism or anger is met with coolness and kind logic.
Remember, it is your business and reputation at the stake here so having a cool head and talking in a friendly way is going to help you the most in the long run.
9. Say No in the Right Way
From time to time, you will come across situation where you cannot deliver what the client requires. Whether you are booked completely, are waiting for shipping, or simply don’t provide the particular services your client requires, there will be times when you will need to say no to customers. The best way to do that is to inform them of when or how you can meet their demands and explain the reason for it not being possible right now.
So, you can give them a date for when you can accommodate them or when your products will arrive. In case they are asking for services you do not provide, you can refer them to someone who does.
10. Summarize Everything
At the end of every conversational interaction, summarize the whole conversation. Go over key points and the terms agreed to and confirm if they are okay with everything you just mentioned. This minimizes the chance of errors and misunderstandings and ensures both you and the client are aware of all the terms.
While it is true that client conversations can scare the hell out of anyone, having a clear strategy in mind and preparing beforehand can do wonders for your communicative interactions. The above-mentioned points will all help you in conversing more effectively with customers, but you will do well to remember that the best way to approach client conversations is to treat them empathetically.
Clients are human beings who are concerned about their businesses and need someone who will listen to them, address their concerns, and solve their problems. If you can do that, you are all set.