Communicating with your clients through email, reports or other documents can be a delicate process. Regardless of their significance or insight, clients don’t always have time to sift through the data, charts and terminology. Your clients need you to simplify communication, not complicate it. Plus, assuming that others know all of the terms and details that you know can place your business in a rather precarious situation.
In a world where there are so many companies from which to choose, brand loyalty may seem like a thing of the past. Some companies have increased communication in order to boost client retention, assuming that the more information they provide, the more they are showing that they care. It’s always a good idea to keep in close contact with your clients, but some may view an ever-increasing amount of responses as overwhelming rather than engaging, especially if the documents you are sending are even a little complex.
Here are two ways to simplify communication in order to improve relationships with clients:
Two Ways to Simplify Communication
- Define terms and think them all the way through.
Not only will the client feel at ease, but boiling down terms you may think are obvious can even increase your own understanding, no matter how many years of expertise you have. You may be knowledgeable but that doesn’t mean you can always teach that knowledge well.
Dan Roam, president and founder of Digital Roam Inc., recommends mapping out presentations in pictures in order to create one main focus. “Using pictures to clarify our own idea will help us see things in our own idea that remained completely invisible if we hadn’t created the pictures,” said Roam.
Sticky notes or index cards can help formulate ideas and their specific order. Nancy Duarte, principal of Duarte Design, stated, “Sticky notes allow ideas to be captured, sorted and rearranged as needed.”
- Review your draft or version with a trusted contact within your company.
Once you have defined terms and created a document draft, ask for tough feedback from a colleague. That colleague will appreciate being heard and can give you something rather valuable. Creating a collaborative solution that everyone understands produces peace of mind that everyone can appreciate. And you can feel confident presenting the material or hitting ‘send’ on the email, knowing that you produced something clear and powerful.
Robert S. Kaplan, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan addresses the need for top-level executives to receive feedback from coworkers. “In a fast-changing world, you need a more active approach for getting coaching and real-time advice…By developing this mind-set, you will improve your ability to ask the right questions, as well as dramatically upgrade your effectiveness and the performance of your organization.”
The response you receive from your clients and employees will be worth the time and effort. Additionally, quality communication with your client might be distributed to a broader audience. Good work often gets passed around, especially good work tied to clear, simple ideas. Knowing your audience and addressing any issues can reach your clients and a network of those like them who could eventually reach out to you for more work.
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