Professional service organizations work directly with clients every day completing projects and performing services. For these employees, successful client communication isn’t just a convenience, it’s essential for any kind of business success. Ineffective communication in the professional services industry leads to unhappy clients, unclear expectations, confusing results, and frustrated employees. Not exactly the ideal work environment! But closing the gap with clients between clarity and confusion can seem like a monumental challenge. At least, without the right advice. Here are five of our favorite professional service solutions for establishing outstanding client communication.
The first step to any successful client work is establishing a dedicated form of communication. While you probably have dozens of different tools available for contacting clients, it’s generally best to limit yourself to one consistent method. Having one well-established form of communication reduces confusion, ensures everyone knows how to keep in touch, and guarantees important messages won’t be missed. Depending on your project scope and circumstances, you may need to occasionally use alternative communication features, but branching out to other platforms should be the exception rather than the rule. You and your client can communicate using whatever tool works for both of your unique needs but make sure you choose a style that will be comprehensive, inclusive, and easy to understand.
Establish Clear Expectations
Once you and your client have determined a regular form of communication, it’s important to create clear expectations. While it’s tempting to just start working right away, assumptions almost always lead to disappointment. Processes and procedures that seem obvious may not be so clear to your current client, or the other way around. It’s important to start out your project with an honest conversation outlining project goals and possibilities. Be descriptive and detailed when setting expectations. Companies often define terms differently, establish different work styles, or have unfamiliar jargons or procedures. Setting well-understood expectations early in the communication process avoid future misunderstandings and feeling of disappointment or resentment down the road. And predetermined project goals give you something tangible to fall back on should any future conflicts arise.
Update Your Clients Often
As you begin working on projects, make an effort to keep clients regularly updated about progress. While clients should never be trying to micromanage your efforts, they are trusting some aspect of their success to your knowledge and experience. It can be scary for companies, and especially individuals, to turn work over to another organization. Regular progress reports are reassuring, help clients know what is happening, and allow them to feel more involved in the process. Progress updates also give clients the opportunity to request changes or redirect goals early on and prepare for unexpected circumstances. While the scope, length, and frequency of your updates are between your and your client, having shorter more frequent updates are typically more effective than longer meetings held less often.
Willingly Educate Each Other
Successful projects depend on utilizing the knowledge, talents, and experience of both you and your client. Have the patience and humility to learn from each other, and understand different practices and priorities. When clients are confused about an idea or hesitant to follow advice, take the time to explain why you believe it is an effective solution. Educate and inform your clients rather than staying silently frustrated or mindlessly lecturing. While clients might be unfamiliar with your particular industry, it’s important to remember they are still smart, capable, and curious individuals. Similarly, be willing to accept suggestions and guidance from your client, especially in business to business interactions, where clients usually have more experience in their particular industry. Make every effort to keep your client communication an open environment where everyone can comfortably collaborate and work together.
Create A Real Relationship
Perhaps most importantly, establishing a strong client relationship is essential for long term success. Healthy work relationships mean a lot more than just doing decent work or even a good job. In order to establish a real connection, both you and your client need to trust, respect, and feel comfortable around each other. Before you begin working with a client, make sure your style and skill level are a good fit for their needs. Once you’ve found a good fit, put in the effort to get to know them individually. Developing successful relationships is guaranteed to take time, but it’s almost always worth the effort. Strong relationships encourage creativity, improve work quality, and make work a more enjoyable experience. And, sappy clients are 50% more likely to request additional services and naturally tell others about their positive experience.
Professional services take creating a quality client experience to the next level. Without easy, reliable, and clear cut communication, projects are bound to fail before they even begin. At MangoApps, we help professional service organizations simplify and strengthen client communication. With dedicated communication areas, easy mobile access, secure file sharing, and much more, MangoApps provides all of the digital collaboration tools professional service businesses need. To learn more about MangoApps and how we help organizations in the professional services industry, contact us or schedule a free personalized demo today.