No matter how many years you've been in business, there are always ways to improve client communication and show clients that you care. I truly believe that most designers actually do care about their clients, they just have a hard time knowing how to express it.
It’s completely okay and even professional to show your clients that you care and value them. Make your communication genuine by concentrating on your clients as people not projects.
Our clients are regular people with regular problems. When we take the time to treat our clients as we would want to be treated we lay the foundation for a solid working relationship.
It’s our job to make our clients feel safe and secure that they’ve chosen the right designer. Take the time to integrate some of the following client communication tips and I promise you'll earn more referrals.
10 Client Communication Tips to Show Clients That You Care
1. Respond Within 24 Hours
The easiest way to show clients that you care is to consistently respond to all emails or messages within 24 hours. Don’t make your client worry if their project is going to be done on time. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had tell me that it would takes days or weeks for their previous designer to get back to them.
Instead of looking at a client email and saying to yourself, “Oh, I”ll respond when I have the time” take two minutes and hit reply! Your reply could be as simple as, “Great questions and input, Susie. I’m going to do some research and look into the matter. I’ll get back to you later today / tomorrow / Monday.” And then actually follow through on your promise to reply later!
2. Learn More About Your Clients
Take the time to get to know your clients! Check out their social media feeds and if you notice that they have something in common with you, mention it casually in an email or reply to them online. The point here is not to “stalk” your clients but to take a genuine interest in them as people.
Another way to do this is to ask your clients questions in the closing of your emails. Ask them what they have going on this weekend or if they caught the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
3. Start Each Email with a Friendly Greeting
I have an Evernote notebook full of copy + paste scripts for almost any client situation. Instead of just pasting my responses into an email and hitting send, I also take the time to write a friendly intro and closing to the email. Even if the core of the email is “sticky,” since I’m not wasting my time re-inventing the wheel on the meat of email I find that I have the bandwidth and desire to write friendlier greetings.
A friendly greeting might look like a simple, “How are you doing?” or it might be a little more in depth. If your client told you that they went on vacation then ask how their travels were. Or if they mentioned last week that their toddler was sick, remember to ask if little Johnny is feeling better.
4. Send a Welcome Packet
As part of my web design process, once a client pays their first invoice I send a welcome packet along with their receipt. This doesn’t have to be anything big, it can as simple as a 4 page PDF document that outlines what they can expect during the project.
Ideas for things to include in a welcome packet might be:
- a letter outlining 5 tips for success
- a heads up on information they’ll need to gather (logins, newsletter info, etc.)
- a FAQ document
- an outline of your project process
- instructions for how to get set-up in your project management system
- a list of resources for learning more about blogging or WordPress
5. Explain Your Reasoning
When you send your client a draft, take the time to explain your choices! As designers, we have an internal thought process as we take the information our client presents us with, combine it with research, and create a piece of work. What we don’t always do is explain that thought process to our clients.
By explaining why you chose the colors or fonts that you made, you have the opportunity to show the client that you heard what they said and made an informed decision based on what you believe would work best for them. When clients feel heard and understand that you have their best interests in mind, you’ll find that they are more likely to agree with your professional opinion.
6. Be a Reflective Listener
This point is super important. A great way to improve client communication is to listen to what they say and then reflect their message back to them. Also called reflective listening, many of us do this in person but we often forget to follow the same pattern online.
When we talk to someone in person, we can nod our heads and say “uh-huh” or “yeah, I hear you.” We also don't think twice about interjecting a question here or there when we need some clarification.
In an email we tend to lose these important connections in our conversations. To help bridge that gap, consider restating what your client said in their last message before moving on to what you want to say.
Try these sentence starters in your next email:
- What I’m hearing from you is…
- So, it sounds like …
- Are you saying that …?
- Would you agree that… ?
Give your clients the chance to be heard and understood. You’ll be surprised how far this goes in creating a friendly working environment.
7. Send a Thank-You Card (or Two!)
In this digital age, who doesn’t love getting a handwritten note? Although there is never a bad time to send a card, consider sending a thank-you card at the beginning or end of your projects. You might even consider creating custom cards with your branding on them!
In my proposal acceptance agreements I request my client’s mailing addresses. Above this spot in the form I mention that I like to send snail mail, and almost everyone fills in their address.
8. Give Complimentary Items
Don’t tell me clients (Shh!) but I have a list of complimentary items that I give to everyone! It’s not written into the package, but I do give free social networking covers and avatars to all my clients.
I give these complimentary items away at various points during the project life cycle depending on how the project is going. For example, if I forget to send an email response in a timely fashion I will apologize and offer a complimentary Facebook cover to show my gratitude for their understanding.
If the project is running smoothly, I give these items to them as a bonus at the end. By knowing ahead of time what items I will include at no-cost, I can also factor these into my fee and schedule. I highly recommend thinking of a few complimentary items that might work with your service offerings and including them in your project planning process!
9. Send Follow Up Emails
When a project is over take a few minutes to schedule in follow-up emails on your calendar at the 1, 3, and 6 month mark and yearly after that. You can pre-write a script to use with all your clients for each of these time frames and keep it in your copy + paste notebook to make it easier to manage.
Sending follow up emails reminds your clients that you are still around.
After sending a follow up email, I find that clients will often reply with a small maintenance task that I bill them for. Or sometimes they respond with a note saying that they just recommended me to a friend of theirs. Either way, you can stay at the top of your clients mind with these helpful emails.
10. Notify Clients of Major WordPress Updates or News
Keep a list (or list segment) in your Mailchimp account for past clients. Use this list to notify your past clients of any major WordPress updates or plugin hacks that they need to be aware of.
Link to an article that explains both the problem and solution. If you can’t find one that adequately addresses both sides then write your own. By keeping your clients' best interests in mind you can show that you care about them even after the project is over!
I know that you care for your clients. Take the time to show them that by implementing a few of the client communication methods mentioned above. You’ll find that by going the extra mile to care for your clients you’ll start getting more direct referrals.
Go above and beyond in a way that makes your clients want to share your business with the world!