When you spend valuable time creating a product or performing a service for your clients, it’s easy to assume your work gets noticed. While performing daily duties, surpassing goals and even going above and beyond, entrepreneurs fall into the trap of assuming that the results speak for themselves. Simply put – they don’t.
When customers buy your goods or use your services, you’re entering into a relationship. Although business relationships are different than personal friendships, the key to success remains the same – effective communication.
In the early stages of the relationship, effective communication ensures your product or service meets the customer’s immediate needs. As time goes on, regular contact allows you to adapt and grow so you can continue to meet changing demands. It’s key at all stages of working together, from that initial introduction to completing your first project, first month of service or first year.
As an entrepreneur, your time is valuable. Effective communication isn’t just for patrons, it’s for you and your team, too. When done correctly, it saves time and helps eliminate confusion, misunderstandings or even poor service.
Here are a few tried and true methods for nurturing great communication:
Keep the Ball In Their Court
Don’t leave your customers waiting for a response. Anytime it’s your turn to reach out, reply or update – do it immediately. You never want your customer to be waiting for a response from you. Always make sure the ball is in their court.
Follow-Up (and Follow-Up Again)
So, you’ve sent your client their latest regular update, with no response. The ball is in their court, but don’t let them drop it. Follow-up! If you still don’t receive a response, make contact on a different platform. They didn’t respond to your last two emails? Pick up the phone!
Consistency is the pillar of effective communication, especially in business relationships. Prevent your clients from misinterpreting silence by giving them a schedule to set their clocks by. Set regular meetings at a specific frequency (bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly), at the same time (9:00 am) and send an agenda beforehand to ensure all important topics get covered and their time is respected.
You may need to adapt these tips if you are a retailer or perform one-off projects, but the fundamentals are still true. The consistency may mean weekly check-ins during a project, or follow-ups about how a product met their needs immediately after the sale and again two weeks later.
Regardless how popular your services or products are, you’re only as good as your communication with clients. Regular contact builds trust, ensures your customers feel comfortable with you, opens doors for more opportunities to work together and generates positive word-of-mouth references.
Finally, don’t forget that perception is reality. When you’re starting to feel like you’re bugging your customer, there’s a chance they don’t think you’re communicating enough!