I’m an email kind of gal. It’s my go-to form for communicating. But I’ve quickly learned that that’s not always the case with each of my clients. Some prefer phone. Some Twitter or Text. Skype. Face-to-face.
It’s a lot to keep up with! But I find I get best results if I use each client’s preferred way to communicate.
Let’s say you begin a client relationship on email, and you notice he typically responds to your email by calling. That’s your cue to switch channels. Or maybe he’s uber busy, and Twitter is easiest for him. When you need to pin him down for longer conversations, try scheduling a call.
Note the Tone and Style
I can call some of my (female) clients “honey.” Some, I’d never dream of it. Each client will have her own tone and level of formality. The longer your relationship, the more casual it might get. But then again, if she’s a stickler for formal communication, respect that.
On Introducing a New Channel
Here’s a challenge I issue you: encourage your client to try a new style of communication. You can’t always do this if you don’t have a high level of trust established with your client. For example: I adore Google Docs, but not all my clients use it. My strategy is to explain the benefits of my client adopting it, and then nudging them in that direction. Sometimes it works, and others, it’s a flop.
Best Uses of Each Channel
Here’s what, in my opinion, each communication channel works best for:
- Email: longer, more in-depth conversations, as well as short ones, if the recipient prefers this channel. Sharing files.
- Chat: quick check-ins and questions.
- Skype: provides that face-to-face feel. Good for early interactions when you’re still building trust.
- Telephone: in-depth conversations; early communication in the partnership.
- Social media: more for shout-outs and quick questions.
If you have a client who’s comfortable using several (or all) of these, always choose the best channel for what you need to say. For example, you wouldn’t tweet “I had a great idea for a blog post this month.” And you wouldn’t necessarily need a phone call for a quick question. Find the channel that minimizes the invasion on your client and keeps the communication brief.
It can be frustrating to have to implement a communication style that isn’t your personal preference, but my rule is: the client gets to pick. I’m still working on this one as well. I’m so reticent to pick up the phone that it feels an inconvenience when a client wants to chat.
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Speaking Your Client’s Language