The idea of needing to communicate with your client seems like an extremely obvious rule, yet in my experience most client-agency failures arise from a simple lack of communication. It never ceases to amaze me how reticent people are to just send a message or, worse, to simply pick up the phone and speak to someone.
In an age where we rely so heavily on electronic forms of communication, the simple act of making a phone call can be the difference between a happy and unhappy client. Even better are face-to-face meetings.
“The better informed you keep your client, the better your relationship will be with them. It’s really that simple.”
Don’t get me wrong, I rely heavily on electronic communication. It is especially important when the person you need to communicate with is extremely busy or hard to locate. Time is the most precious commodity a working person has these days. But electronic communication has the draw back of lacking tone and body language that can often make the difference, especially when tackling hard subjects.
In fact, I find that one of the hallmarks of an inexperienced person is a complete shut down of communication when something is going wrong with a project. When the going gets tough, the weak go silent. And nothing becomes more obvious that the train is off the track as when a client gets the silent treatment.
This may be especially important when working on digital projects which have a habit of disappearring into a development ‘black box’ at the best of times. During the heavy-development phase of a project, which often lasts from 3 weeks to many, many months depending on the size and scope of the project, it is crucial to be communicating progress to the client on a regular basis.
The better informed you keep your client, the better your relationship will be with them. It’s really that simple. And you will need to count on this great relationship with them when you inevitably hit a set-back.
A few things to remember about client communication:
- Clients are people too. They themselves have made errors in the past, and are just wanting the same thing you are: the successful completion of the project. If you communicate with them about what is going on, they may be disappointed about the news, but they will be reasonable.
- Be honest.
- Apologize if you, or your team, did something wrong – but don’t prostrate yourself over it. Mistakes happen, own up to them and form a mitigation strategy with your client. In fact, even better is to have a mitigation approach prepared before you communicate.
- Take a deep breath, suck it up and just do it. Trust in your client’s reasonableness, compassion and the relationship you have built with them.
For us at Ike when it comes to client service, silence is definitely not golden. Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. The better informed your client is, the better the project will go, and the happier they will be. Guaranteed.
Read more of Ike’s Rules of Client Service.