business money tips for groups

Client communications are important. Plain and simple. When you run a service-based business, communication with your clients is everything. Proper client communication keeps your company thriving.

If your client communications leave something to be desired. That could mean lost opportunities–fewer sales and follow-ups. These setbacks require more money for marketing, and they create an overall downward trend for revenue and profits. It doesn’t have to be that way. It can be simple.

Here are a few tips to improve client communications and make your company even stronger.

Establish Business Rules

If you are running a medium to large company, you should set clear guidelines for how employees interact with clients. You should provide training and expectations for employees so they know exactly how to prepare for and act in meetings.

You will want to also have clear rules for how your company manages email communications with clients. Be simple. Be fun. Enjoy the process.

These clear expectations also make it easier to substitute one employee for another when something happens. This is since everyone has a clear understanding of the rules.

Take Your Time

When getting ready to meet with a client, ensure you do your homework. For new or potential clients, do as much research about the client and their needs as possible until you are completely familiar.

If it is a longstanding client, review their file, and talk to anyone else in the company who may have dealt with them. For new and potential clients, consider giving them some “homework” to do.

An example could be that you ask them to answer a general questionnaire or survey that gives you a better understanding of their requirements.

Finally, make certain you allocate enough time to truly have a good discussion.

Stay Relevant

Beyond the preparation you are doing to understand the client, ensure that you have solid working knowledge of everything that your business has to offer. Be as familiar with your company’s services, its prices, and the time it takes to deliver the goods to a client. Brag. But be humble.

Anything that you cannot state by memory you should have written down or otherwise readily available. Finally, when meeting with clients, or communicating with them through email, don’t waste their time. Be quick.

Schedule Routine Client Communications

Develop a system of communications to help your clients keep your company in the forefront of their minds. Develop a communication plan that provides them information, most likely in email form, which helps them stay connected.

Send out sales and promotional information that might get them to come back in the door. Provide your clients key information.

Consider having your sales team reach out to established clients after a certain period. It’s when you expect they may need your company’s services again. Be available.

Finally, use your social media presence to keep your company and its services at the top of their news feed.

Consider Their Comfort Zone

Everyone has different communication preferences. It’s important to consider your client’s comfort zone when determining how and when to contact them.

For instance, if your client is older or not very comfortable with technology, they may appreciate a phone call over an email. Similarly, younger clients may be most comfortable chatting through social media or video conferences.

Sometimes your client will give you hints about which method of communication they prefer, and sometimes you may have to ask them. But communicating in a way that’s the most comfortable for them will help improve your relationship.

Add a Personal Touch to Your Client Communications

Don’t underestimate the power of a personalized message when establishing and building a relationship. Whether it’s a handwritten note thanking them for their business or an email with a link to an article you thought they’d find interesting or helpful. A small gesture can go a long way.

Thoughtfulness is key. You can’t simply send a generic note with the client’s name at the top, since that will cause the note to lose its effect quickly. Similarly, sending an email with a link to a piece of content will prove ignorant.

However, a note or email that shows you’re listening to what they want and are actively trying to help them will strengthen your relationship.

Push Back (The Right Way)

Disagreeing with a client can seem like an impossible task, since it may look like a lose-lose scenario. Either you insult them by pushing back on their ideas or you agree with them even when you know those ideas aren’t what’s right for their business.

When you know the client will be making a mistake if they follow through with an idea, you’re obligated to try to steer them in the right direction. But it must be handled carefully to avoid damaging your relationship.

Be gentle. And offer lots of information behind your decision. Give them plenty of facts and figures to prove your point. But do so in a way that allows them to make up their own mind rather than forcing your idea down their throat and expecting them to go along with it just because you said so. Done in the right way, disagreements can prove to your client that you really do care about seeing their business succeed and won’t blindly agree with them about everything.

Self-Correct

You will never improve your client communications if you do not get feedback. Routinely ask your clients how they rate their interactions with your company.

If you are running a medium or larger business where you don’t always get to interact with your clients, consider designing a questionnaire for them to complete. Or have someone designated to follow up with them.

Anytime you lose a client, especially one you have had a longstanding relationship with, you will want to do everything possible to determine what happened. Could the collapse of the relationship have something to do with anything your company could do better with its client communications?

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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