Technology is amazing! It allows us as human beings to do so many things and to stay connected like no other age in the history of the world. Social media and other modes of communication allow us to know what someone is doing, saying, or thinking at any time with ease. In business this can be blessing or a curse. Knowing the right and best way to communicate with a client, either internally (coworkers) or externally, is key to a good working relationship. The most common forms of communication in business are instant messaging, emails, and phone calls/video conferencing. Here are some helpful tips to gauge when it may be best to pick up the phone and talk with your client.
First, if you sit down to write an email and it takes more than 10 minutes or a few sentences to explain your thoughts, set up a time to speak with the client. Outline what you want to discuss, max time it will take to be respectful of their time, and any additional parties that need to be involved in the discussion. After the meeting concludes, send a recap email with items discussed and next steps. This ensures you're all on the same page moving forward.
Next would be any time you're needing to reset expectations with a client. This can be something as simple as reviewing the SLAs you have in place or a more direct conversation around the client monopolizing a resource's time. Setting correct expectations early in a relationship is the best way to avoid these conversations, but sometimes these conversations are unavoidable. A lot can be inferred over the phone from listening to the client's reactions and the tone in which you present the message. The tone of your message can often be misinterpreted or lost in an email, so it may best to have this conversation over the phone or in person, depending on how you conduct business.
Finally, any time there needs to be a discussion about money, a verbal conversation is best. This will impact both of your businesses. Outlining the change in budget needs to be adequately explained so all parties are satisfied with the solution. Always follow these conversations up with an email to the client and clear next steps and timeframes for any changes. Money is a very sensitive topic and should be treated as such when communicating with clients.
In the end, you'll know the best way to communicate with your clients... and they will let you know their preferred method as well. The easy and passive thing to do is send a quick email and move on to the next task. Challenge yourself to go above and beyond. Be an advocate for your business and your client in every scenario.
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