Effective client communication is important for making projects run smoothly, and can also help with retention. Yet lots of organizations get this wrong, and doing so can lead to frustration, delays and client dissatisfaction.
If you’re tired of trying and failing to take your project management to the next level, here are a few tips to streamline client communication that should make a positive difference.
Why you need to see eye to eye with your client
Being on the same page as your clients is the lynchpin of impactful communication, according to Matthew Stibbe from Geek Boss in his project management lessons.
If you aren’t coming at problems from the same perspective, it’s almost impossible to tackle them successfully. Instead, aim to accept that changes are inevitable, and recognize that keeping an open line of communication with your clients is the only way to accommodate them.
Preferably you will align your outlooks at the start of a project so that smooth sailing can be expected from day one. But you also need to be flexible and adaptable, as well as forgiving in the case of uncharacteristic outbursts if roadblocks arise once the project is underway.
Using the right tools is essential
Client communication is about more than just giving status updates on a regular basis; you also need to harness tools to keep clients in the loop and show them evidence of the progress you are making on a project.
Once again, unity is helpful here. Don’t insist on the use of a particular platform if a client is not comfortable with it, but instead aim to bend to fit their preferences as much as possible.
Whether that means providing them access to collaborative, comment-enabled files via Google Docs and Dropbox, or looping them in via top solutions like Asana and Trello, modern project management tools make communication a breeze.
It’s all about making sure they feel engaged with what is going on, rather than shunted to the peripheries.
Scheduling communication is helpful
While it is fine to communicate with clients whenever the need arises, it also works in your favor if you set a schedule for providing progress reports which is consistent and conveniently organized.
If a client knows that they will be receiving a clear, concise overview of where you are up to at the start of each week, for example, they will be both more confident in your capabilities, and less likely to disrupt your day to day workflow with interjections.
The personal touch matters
Another point to make about client communication in a project management context is that you need to be sensitive to the methods you use to get in touch, not just the content of what you tell them.
While some clients will be satisfied by the email-only approach, others will prefer having the option to chat on the phone, host a virtual meeting or even meet in person if this is feasible.
Again if you can be adaptable and encompass the needs and expectations of clients as individuals, rather than rigidly treating them all exactly the same way, you will find that this is a real boon for project progress as well as for ensuring their loyalty.
There may be the sense that you have to bend over backwards to accommodate client requests when working on projects together, but this is not the case. Good collaboration is built around good communication, and it is definitely a two way street in this setting.
Take advantage of tools, talk to clients regularly and get your priorities straight sooner rather than later, and even the most complex projects should tick over nicely.