Tips for Speaking to Clients
Talking to clients can be hard… They are often not super knowledgeable in the field they are trying to navigate, making communication very messy.
Now, you might be thinking “I already know how to talk to clients!” And maybe you do, which is great; but I know from my own experience that knowing something and putting it into practice is not the same! If you have ever worked a job where you have to communicate with a customer, you know that it only takes them asking a couple of frustrating questions before all these rules that you “know” are quickly clouded by emotion.
This is why understanding the best practices and then instilling them into yourself and your team is so important.
1. Empathize with the client
This is the most important principle you need when speaking to a client. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you a completely different perspective allowing you to not only respond appropriately but even go beyond what the client expects of you.
Think of a time where you had to rely on customer service to help you with an issue. Maybe you bought a faulty product or signed up for something inadvertently. Resolving these discrepancies can be frustrating. And the last thing you want is a customer service rep using big words that you don’t understand and appealing to rules or regulations you are not aware of.
Now, apply this experience to the client you are speaking to. Use simple words and explain complicated concepts. Anticipate what they will need before they need it.
Instead of telling them what they need to do, communicate clear directions on how to get to the desired outcome. Give them links, phone numbers, email addresses – whatever they may need – in as specific detail as you can. They need actionable steps, just like you have needed before.
Be down to earth with them. Maybe you can even share your experience about first time you tried to learn about the product or service. Try to dig deep into your past and understand the way your client feels. You will soon realize that empathy is contagious and they might even empathize with you, too.
Now, of course, there are scenarios where no matter how kind you are, they will still be angry. That is when you move onto the next principle: ask for help.
2. Ask for help
Remember that time when you felt like you were speaking a different language than the client? Everything you said was met by more questions and less relief resulting in more confusion for your client. Don’t freak out! Sometimes, people just aren’t on the same wavelength, which is why you need to consult someone who is.
Just grab a co-worker (who isn’t busy) and ask them to talk to the client with you. Maybe they’ll bring a fresh outside perspective that you haven’t considered, yet.
However, always choose someone qualified. Your best bet is someone with more experience than you or someone specialized in the same niche as your problem. They will bring insight and authority that may give the client more confidence in the problem being resolved.
Like many of these principles, this is easier said than done. Asking for help can make you feel like are not enough which can be a hard pill to swallow. I totally get that! But being humble and asking for help should be something you put into practice throughout your workday anyway.
3. Be Clear
Clarity can be, you know, like really hard when your kinda trying to find the right words to use and it just doesn’t come to you so you have to be like specific and not just general about whatever… does that make sense?
Reading that sentence probably gave you anxiety, and for good reason. The basic definition of communication is simply relaying information. So, that should be your number one goal. Speak clearly, excluding any unnecessary tidbits, words, or acronyms that will confuse the client.
Find anything that would interfere with your communication and remove it. If a lack of knowledge interferes, define and spell out your words and concepts. If a lack of familiarity is the problem, use images and videos to give life to your point. In case of a misunderstanding, repeat back to them what you think they’re saying. When there is a technical issue, find a new medium of communication. Do whatever it takes and be creative in giving your client clear information.
However, all of this is impossible if you don’t fully understand the topic yourself. This is why you should never stop learning and expanding your understanding of your field. As the old saying goes:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
4. Speak Well About the Client
Never say something about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.
Gossiping about people is something that almost everyone does, but no one likes being done to them. This is especially true in a workplace setting.
I’m not saying that you can’t discuss anything bad anyone does, I’m just saying that you should speak about the client with grace acknowledging that you too are also quite fallible.
As we established in point two: asking for help is important; so when you do ask for help and describe the problem you’re having with a client, do so with grace. This also hearkens back to our first point of empathizing with the client, so that you better understand where they are coming from.
There are a million more principles of efficient communication that we could cover, but I think that these are the big three. If you keep them in the back of your mind you will have much smoother and more enjoyable client communication.
Have any more tips for chatting with clients? Drop them in the comments. I think all of us can use some improvement. 😊