Effective client communication is the cornerstone of our success as a company. When handled correctly, communication builds client trust. More trust means more decision making power and a better overall relationship. When handled poorly, FUDA can happen, and the relationship can suffer.
To promote better communication, here are three things I keep in mind when having a conversation with a client:
- Avoid jargon
- Keep it high-level
Effective communication begins by empathizing with the other people in the conversation, so try to understand their workload, personality, and motivators.
Your sole priority may be this project, but often, that is not the case for your customers. They may be managing multiple projects, traveling, and navigating internal processes to make sure their projects succeed.
You can empathize with their busy schedules by avoiding impromptu meetings. When you do meet, prepare an agenda. If possible, send it out before the meeting.
It’s safe to assume that the project’s success is a common motivator between you and your customer. You can use this to build common ground, or as a preface to a new idea or a different approach to solving a problem.
For example, before jumping into the specific workflow for a search feature, you might explain how it will improve usability and therefore result in a more polished application. Your customer will appreciate your “own it” mentality.
Using jargon can be effective when talking to peers or diving deeply into a technical problem, but it should be avoided when communicating with clients. If clients can’t follow your message because of the terms you’re using, they won’t be able to give you the answers you need. They may also experience a feeling of inferiority, which can hurt the relationship. Or, they could simply disengage from the conversation.
Keep It High-Level
Keeping a conversation at a high level forces you to boil your message down to a few points. Avoid including details that may sidetrack the conversation, but be prepared to explain your message in more detail.
For example, if you’re looking for input on an upcoming search feature, you may explain that a user is able to search for a keyword. You don’t need to include the details about how the keyword will be used to “fuzzy find” matches and rank them based on relevance.
Exercising effective communication can help you find you the answers you need, save your client’s valuable time, and lead to a successful project and a healthy client relationship. What other techniques do you use to ensure effective client communication?