Effective communication in client relationships

Communication is an important aspect when handling customer requests. Here are some key points to take into consideration.

What you will learn

-New view over communication in general
-Better communication with customer
-Self control
-What and how much to communicate
-Promote self interests
-Learn to say no
-Don't take it personally

How to communicate effectively

When it comes to relationships, communication is everything. Poor communication can quickly lead to the demise of relationships, while good communication can help to sustain them in the long-term. The relationships with your clients are no different.

Whether you’re writing a client an email, talking with them on the phone, or having an in-person conversation with them, there are some communication tactics that you should abide by in order for that relationship to really last.

Don't say you will try, take some actions

When asked by a client to investigate/perform something, you should not just say you will try to implement something, but make and impression that you are just doing it. Provide solutions and alternatives instead just trying something out.

Learn to drive the discussion

Drive the discussion in the direction you are more comfortable with. It's easier to handle something with your known tools, instead of relying of someone else suggestions.

Succes Factors

Common Language

You should establish a common language with your client, based on his. Drive the discussion to a point, where you know the solution can be found more easily.

Learn to listen

Listening is an important part in communication, it gives the other person the feeling that you care about they're problems. Listening also enables you to have a picture of the other persons thoughts, which enables you to adapt your attitude towards him/her.

And when the person is done speaking, paraphrase or summarize what was said, and provide feedback.

Reduction of information

Knowing how much information to deliver is very important. Only the key aspects shall be communicated, without information that does not add value.

Take over initiative

You should be able to take initiative, and drive the discussion in a field where you are more comfortable with.

Consistency

Presented information shall be clear an precise. It shall not deviate from the subject, to keep both parties focused on the discussed theme.

Be Friendly

Whether you have a super upbeat and energetic personality or are more calm and laid-back doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you are positive, friendly and personable. Treat your client like they are an old friend of yours. When you talk to them on the phone, ask them how their day is going and show a genuine interest in their lives.

Give Feedback

Feedback is good for improving relations between to parties, when done right. Feedback should be given if the other person also wants to. When receiving a feedback, you only should decide upon the actions you will take.

Take requests as factual information

All requests/demands should be taken first as factual information. Even if a request seems to be badly intended upon you, you should take this as a factual information.

Do 100% of what's doable

Solving a problem/request does not mean you should do anything that is requested. It could be that there are some limits, and you could only deliver a partial solution. This is perfectly fine, unless there is a clear reason why it could not be done entirely, and this reason is also communicated to the customer.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a good form to show that you care about someone opinions, it could reveal some information that the customer would have not delivered intialy. Don’t be shy about asking questions yourself. It’s always better to ask too many questions than to not ask any and end up more confused. Asking questions shows curiosity and it shows that you care. So chances are, you clients will appreciate it.

Always Say Please and Thank You

Reciprocity

Helping someone or doing someone a favor, will for sure get you some benefits in the long term.

Illusion of limited ressource

Whenever you are asked to perform a task, you may or may not be that busy at that moment. Creating the impression that you make an efort to take some of your time for a job, makes the other part appreciate your handling.

Authority

You will need some authority in order to lead a discussion, and fullfil your task.

Adapt to client temperament - Analytic, Driver, Amable, Expressive

With lots of different clients, you should be flexible to adapt to client's personalities. You should talk different to people which are hysteric in comparison to a very calm person. Try to explain that your goal is to find together a good solution.

Replace "but" with "and"

When communicating to a client, using "and" to formulate your solving intention gives you more authority. "but" leaves a door open to doubts and uncertainities.

Stress Management

Handling stress is very important in order to be able to handle clients requests. There are different tehniques to lower stress, by finding the source and taking actions to eliminate it. Also there are some "breathing tehniques" for raising awareness and lowering stress.

Negative Argumentation

Trying to convice someone with negative argumentation is much more powerful then presenting some simple facts.

Paraphrase/Summarize

When you are wrapping up a conversation or meeting with a client or responding to one of their emails, paraphrase or summarize the main points that were discussed. This will accomplish two things: It will show that you were listening (as mentioned in point #4), and it will ensure that there are no mixed messages being exchanged

Say “No” the Right Way

Nobody likes to hear the word “no.” Try to avoid this word in your client communication at all costs. If you have exhausted all other alternatives and “no” is the only option left, at least phrase the “no” in a more positive way. For instance, if your client asks if you can complete a project by a certain date, and you can’t, instead of saying “no, I’m sorry but that won’t be possible,” say something like, “I won’t be able to complete it by that date, but I can get it back to you in X amount of time. Is that okay?” The way that you phrase things makes a world of difference.

Pay Attention to Formatting

When styling your emails or documents, pay close attention to the formatting. To make your message more readable, create lists whenever possible. Bold important words or phrases. And use ample spacing throughout.

Pay Attention to Non-Verbals

Verbal and written communication isn’t the only thing that matters—non-verbal communication is just as important. When you’re talking with your client in-person, pay attention to how you are presenting yourself non-verbally. What is your posture like? How’s your body language? Are you making eye contact?

Manipulation techniques

Sympathy

Knowing some psychology is benefical when dealing with clients. When you establish yourself a good picture in client's eyes, you will most likely have an easier job of working together.


DesignPatterns
effective communication

04.10.2018

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About the Author

Dani Pinte

Dani is a software developer with over 10 years experience in developing Desktop and Web applications using Microsoft .NET Technologies. He is passionate about software, sports, travel and motorsport.



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