How to Facilitate Better Communication with Clients
Working on any development project requires clear and consistent communication between clients and developers. Ultimately, this is a relationship, not a transaction. To cultivate that relationship and ensure that both parties are satisfied, development companies must use a better strategy than haphazard emails, random calls, and the occasional Slack message.
Dec 2020 - 3 minutes read
Every development company or agency has their own strategy, and methods of communication that they have tried and tested and have stuck with over the years. Today, we’ll lay out some different options for improving your agency’s communication strategy with clients.
We hope some of these suggestions resonate with you, but the most important thing to remember is that any method can work – as long as you ensure the needs of your client are your number one priority.
As long as that remains your goal, you’ve set yourself up for success.
Our Best Tips for Communicating Well with Clients
One of the best things that a development agency can do when they’re first starting out is create a communication strategy for use with clients. If it’s developed and carefully planned from the beginning, you can get feedback and improve it with time, rather than starting from scratch with every new client you bring in.
If you don’t have a clear plan from the beginning, it’s easy to descend into disorganization and chaos – a major red flag for clients.
Here are some of the best ways to develop or refine your communication strategy.
Create a Standard Plan, Then Adapt
From the early days of your company, make sure that client communications are a priority. Take some time to develop a strategy, then refine it until it’s seamless. Once it’s fully developed, ensure your strategy is enshrined in your company policies. Add it to your employee handbook, and make sure it’s one of the first pieces of training new employees receive.
By including it in every new employee’s training, you’ll set the tone that it’s a standard operating procedure for the company.
Set a Clear Hierarchy for Communicating with Clients
One key element of any communication strategy is who communicates with clients. Even if you’ve worked hard to have an egalitarian structure within your company, there still needs to be clear rules for incoming and outgoing client communications. Otherwise, things get lost in the shuffle.
One of the easiest ways to ensure success is for all client communications to run through the project manager. This keeps the channels of communication clear and ensures nothing gets lost in a sea of messages. When the project manager is monitoring and passing on all relevant communications, it’s easier to track goals and keep the project on schedule.
Work Within Their Communication Preferences
While you may have a default way that your company prefers to work with clients, it’s integral to keep the client’s communication preferences in mind. From your very first meeting, start to ask them questions about how they prefer to communicate, and which productivity tools they’re comfortable with.
If your office uses Slack and the client is a diehard Microsoft Teams user, something has to give. Even if it’s something new to use, make an effort to get your team to work within the client’s communication preferences. Often, the easiest way to bridge the gap is for your project manager to use both tools to communicate.
Make it Routine
As much as you can, do your best to ensure that communication between your development team and the client follows a routine. A great way to do this is with regular check-in meetings in person, over Zoom, or over the phone. Regularly scheduled communications keep the clients connected to the development process, and gives them frequent opportunities to offer feedback, hear more about the work in progress, and connect with your staff.
Even if you’re in touch over email every day, setting aside one hour a week to make the whole team available for updates and questions is a great way to show the client how much you value their needs and their time.
Ask for Feedback
You should never be afraid of asking clients for feedback about how their interactions with your team are going. Not everyone will speak up if they’ve had an issue, and a great way to get around that politeness is to directly solicit their feedback. That way, they’ll know that you’re serious about making sure your communication strategy fits their needs.
If you choose to do this formally, a brief survey or questionnaire sent out over email is a great place to start. Send it to them, then wait a week before following up with a phone call if you haven’t gotten a response.
It may not seem that important compared to the quality of the work you do, but how you communicate with clients tells them a lot about your company. Most importantly, it shows them how organized you are, and where your priorities lie.
A company can be staffed up with the best developers and coders in the country, but if they’re unable to get feedback from the client promptly or fail to incorporate new features because the initial request got lost in a Slack thread, they will quickly lose customers. No one wants to stick with a team that’s disorganized and incapable of working together effectively.
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