Business communication has much more importance than many people realize. In fact, a study by the Project Management Institute found that poor communication was the reason behind the failure of a third of all failed projects it surveyed.
No surprise then that communications can make the difference in whether your business wins the confidence and satisfaction of your clients. You have to know how to talk to them and give them the positive impression that places you above the competition.
Want to wow your clients? Then take the time to critically examine your communications strategy and apply these four crucial tips.
1. Give lightning-fast responses
To provide an exceptional experience for your clients -- including those who are small business owners -- your timely response can trump all your other customer-service efforts. Most business owners understand that running a business requires hours beyond the traditional 9 to 5. Therefore, your responses to inquiries and emails shouldn't be confined to the typical workday, if you want to meet customers' needs.
As an entrepreneur, you'll be busy and unavailable at certain times, but this doesn't excuse your ignoring requests. Simply answering questions, or letting someone know that you will respond as soon as you can, can make all the difference. Sending responses to clients in the evening or on a weekend will show that you are willing to go the extra mile.
Be sure that your responses are not only prompt but clear and concise. Many business owners struggle with simple email etiquette and tend to over-explain (or under-explain) certain concepts. This can cause confusion, and sometimes frustration. Using an editing program like MailMentor can help you craft better replies by measuring the reading difficulty of what you write, and highlighting unclear sentences.
2. Never under-estimate the value of small talk
At the end of the day, clients choose to do business with people, not companies. So, building rapport with them is essential for creating long-term business relationships and better brand trust. The key here is making your business personable, to build a connection.
View this networking opportunity as a way to get to know your clients as people, not just customers. Take the time to chat with your clients as you would with friends or colleagues. Following up after an initial meeting or phone call shows that you are willing to go out of your way to provide an exceptional, humanized business experience.
3. Use a time-tested internal system
Potential and existing clients need to feel confident in their choice of partnering with you. Informing them about the systems your business puts into practice can alleviate any concern they may have. Clients want to see that you are dependable and that the little details of their projects don't run the risk of falling through the cracks. Therefore, laying out your plan for how you will efficiently produce high-quality work, start to finish, is a wise move.
If you haven't already, implementing a reliable project-management and collaboration system can really help your business when it comes to communication and productivity. Given all the software solutions now on the market, finding the perfect one to fit your needs will likely require some research.
For instance, Nutcache is a project-management tool that lets you implement and followagile processes and methods, a huge trend among modern startups. Nutcache aims to simplify teamwork and collaboration by providing effective communication tools that keep everyone in the loop. The resulting transparency and clarity will ease clients' worries.
Talking about the processes your company follows is a great way to win clients' confidence in your business's capability to deliver. Tell them how often your team members meet, what your day-to-day schedule looks like during a project and how each member contributes to producing the best results.
4. Talk to customers as you would to your boss
Clients are the ones with the checkbook. So, in essence, they are your boss. While they come to you for your expertise, ultimately, they are the ones calling the shots.
Before you dive into a project, take the time to discuss their desired outcomes and clear up any confusion or possible roadblocks. Again, this comes down to clear and opencommunication with your clients. Don't assume the next step, and always run any changes by the client first.
When you recommend ways to accomplish their goals, don't speak in absolutes ("We can't do this"; "You must buy this program"). Instead, phrase your ideas as suggestions while outlining the pros, cons and risk factors. Ask them what they expect of you, but don't overpromise anything you cannot deliver on.
Good businesses know the importance of healthy client relationships. Financially speaking, it costs four to ten times less to keep a client than to acquire a new one.
In order to build these types of loyal customers, you must establish trust and confidence through proper communication. A little effort goes a long way, so invest the time to get to know your clients and learn effective methods for confident and mutually beneficial discourse.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors