Some clients know exactly what they want while others find the buying decision to be more challenging. As a result, clients like the latter ones tend to struggle when committing to the direction of a new or existing project.
Primarily, your job is to service the needs and wants of your client. On the other hand, however, you want to maximize the time you spend on the project by being efficient in the management of a client’s project. This is why communication between your organization and the client is so crucial. With that in mind, your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Alabama came up with five tips to help you keep the lines of communication clear when working with a client:
1. Gather important information up front — There will be times when you won’t always be able to reach your client or get a quick response, so you’ll need to gather up as much information as you can initially. The more information you collect at the start of a project the further you can progress before having to schedule a consultation.
2. Establish a communication plan — If client involvement is important to a project, it helps to establish a communication plan to ensure you maintain regular contact. This allows you to keep the client abreast on your progress, and helps make sure the client is available to provide feedback or authorize approvals.
3. Outline a list of decisions — If you know in advance that a project will require a level of customization that calls for approvals, develop a document that outlines the various stages of the project and the corresponding decisions that the client will need to make. If you can, include deadlines for the decisions so that your client can better manage their schedule.
4. Keep initial options to a minimum — When a client feels flooded with too many options, they often put off making a decision—especially if they have other matters to attend to. This can cause the project to slip their mind, leading to delays. Options are good, but at the beginning of a project keep things light to avoid throwing too much at the client at once.
5. Make the client feel like part of the team — Sometimes, when a client does not feel directly involved in a project, it can lead to a breakdown in communication. This can slow or even halt a project’s development. To avoid this problem, make your client part of your “inner circle” so they feel like a team member. This will vastly improve the likelihood of getting a response from them when you need input.
Effective communication is integral to the success of a client project. This requires more than just calling a client up or sending an e-mail. Having a plan for maintaining communication throughout a project’s life will make things much easier, help manage your client’s expectations, and make future projects get approved with little to no resistance.
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