We have all been on the receiving end of poor communication, yet we all like to think that we are brilliant communicators. Even the best of us do not always use the most effective communication.
The fastest ways to make a client unhappy
- Don't tell them what is going on with their project - so they feel like they have to constantly hound you to follow up.
- Give them the wrong information or only give them information so drenched in jargon they need a translator to make sense of it.
- Expect them to know what you doing and the difference you are making (even if they are not in your industry) without you telling them.
It's a systems problem
Often communications issues are systems problems, rather than people problems. You don’t intend to be deliberately vague or to hide information. You just miss a step or forget some vital information.
The trick is to create a system to help you remember what you wanted to do, say and share. A communications checklist and standardised templates reminds you of all of the steps to follow and all the things you need to consider. It helps you to standardise your procedures, so that you deliver consistently great service every time.
Life without checklists
Without checklists and templates, you will take up time trying to reinvent wheels.
When you get feedback about a communication issue or problem, go back and refine your system to help stop that situation from happening again. Save all your templates so you can quickly whip up a response as needed.
Communication clarification questions
Your business may not use all of these sales process steps, but you will definitely have at least some of these in your business. Pick one step where you have been stumbling with your communication and ask yourself:
- What do my clients need to know and do right now?
- What information do I need to provide at this step?
- Do the words I am currently using at this step reflect my brand and the experience of what it will be like to work with me?
- Are these the most powerful words I can use?
Communications checklists and templates
Let’s take a sales process for a typical service business or trade. You can create communications checklists and templates for each stage of your sales process.
- First contact
Templates of FAQs and answers. What do you want your prospect to know? How can you demonstrate your expertise, skill, and give them a taste of what it is like to work with you?
- Proposal / quote
Have a template pre-filled with as much standard content as you can - but allowing for project specific information to be dropped in. Having this on your system will mean faster turnaround on your quotes.
- Quote follow up process
How you follow up quotes if the client doesn’t respond to the quote, or if they say no.
- Project confirmation
How you confirm the project, reinforce the buying decision by the client, and help them understand next steps and any information that you need or actions you need them to do.
- Commencement invoices
Invoices shouldn't just be about the money.
- Project updates
Templates for updating clients at least weekly on where things are at with their project.
- Stage completion updates
Conclusion of stages or project phase templates.
- Completion invoices
Again, this shouldn’t just be about the money.
- Project completion
Information to complete a project, or to sign-off on the tasks.
- Feedback / testimonial requests
Build this into your client process rather than doing them once a year.
- Keeping in touch
Your processes to regularly touch base with past clients.
If you systematise your communications, you will remove many of the communication stumbling blocks - and you can get on with being the communications rock star that you are!