Have you stopped to consider – or even ask – how your clients prefer to communicate? With so many options available to us – email, social media, text, telephone, in-person meetings – it’s easy to slip into our own preferred method of communication. But without considering whether that’s best for our target audience, we could be annoying (or at worst losing) our valuable customers.
A friend was recently dealing with a digital marketing consultant to develop a Facebook competition. She provided a detailed brief by email and after an initial meeting the project was underway. Whenever she emailed for progress or to provide information, the consultant always phoned her to provide the answer. And despite her asking for information by email and also following up each phone call with an email summary (so there was a record of their discussions) the consultant always relied solely on phone communication. She found it frustrating and it was one of a few factors that stopped her from using that consultant again.
As business owners, it’s important to take the cues offered by our clients and acknowledge that they may have a preferred way of dealing with us.
Me? As a customer, I prefer email. Text messages from businesses feel like an intrusion. Phone conversations are tricky as I’m often either working to a deadline or with my kids, and it’s not always easy to take the time for a chat. For me, email is efficient and easy and has the added bonus of keeping track of the conversation so I can go back and review it later.
But I have clients who prefer to talk by phone. It’s more comfortable for them. They can ask questions and clarify things more easily in conversation. There is less chance of misunderstandings or confusion. So to meet their needs it’s important to recognise their preferences, adjust my communication methods and pick up the phone where possible.
Others prefer to meet face to face. It helps them feel more involved in the process and they find it easier to understand what’s happening within their project. So rather than bombard these people with emails, we arrange to catch up regularly so they can be kept informed.
Sometimes physical distance or other practicalities might limit your communication options, but where several options are available, it’s worth asking your clients how they prefer to stay in touch. By remembering to do this, you can keep them feeling comfortable and build a stronger relationship.
ACTION: Determine a way (at the beginning of your sales funnel) to find out your clients’ preferred way of communicating – whether it’s a field on your contact form, or a simple question as part of the sales process. And then wherever possible, try and use this method.