Communication is one of the most vital parts of running a business. This means successfully communicating with your team of employees so that the business operates efficiently, and of course with clients so that transactions are smooth and both sides are happy with the outcome.
Poor communication can lead to disputes, late payments, and even loss of clients. If your company is seen as a poor communicator then you can expect your clients to question the quality of your services or goods as well. Knowing how important it is to communicate well you will want to know the best ways to improve this area. Here are some thoughts on improving client communication.
Why is clear communication so essential in business?
When you sell your services or goods you want to be paid in a reasonable space of time. For this to happen several things need to be in place but at its simplest; the goods must be of the quality expected and delivered on time, and an invoice needs to have been issued with the correct information.
Even if you deliver perfectly acceptable goods if you fail to put in the correct paperwork you will end up with a problem. Even the simplest failure to communicate clearly can lead to issues in business such as goods being wrongly delivered or charged for.
At its very worst, poor communication can lead to a complete breakdown in proceedings and you could lose employees, clients, and money. You need to know how to manage your communication effectively when dealing with clients to build and maintain a healthy working relationship.
In what ways can you improve your communication?
Making sure all your documents and paperwork is accurate and in place is a good start. Make sure all terms and conditions are outlined and agreed upon when contracts are signed to avoid problems later on.
Sending out invoices and other documents on time is important. You want to establish regular contact with your clients so that they are aware of their obligations and you can manage debt and any other problems. Automation can improve some of these areas for you.
Automating your processes
Keeping track of accounts receivable can take time and effort out of your daily schedule. It is also possible for a late payment to be missed or a phone call not returned. Automation and software can take care of some of these problems for you.
Assuming you sent out an invoice after the goods were received and it is now 30 days later you will want to send an overdue invoice letter out. By using the right software for your business you can have all your debtors in a database and when it is time to remind them about late payments they will automatically be contacted.
These communications are a great way for you and the client to communicate easily as they allow the customer to reply directly through the electronic message and also to make payments the same way. Any outstanding debt will then be adjusted on the system without you needing to be concerned with it.
Messages can be personalized to keep communications friendly but professional and there can be other options to help your clients such as automated payment plan options or different ways to pay.
Using technology to communicate with clients
There are many apps to improve communications in your own workplace with employees and when it comes to talking with your clients it is no different. There are various ways you can communicate efficiently with your customer, and here are some ways you may use already or wish to employ.
Email for communication and marketing
Using regular mail is costly, slow, and can go missing. Electronic mail or email is a perfect way to communicate in business. Although you may hear how email is going out of fashion it is still an extremely useful way to communicate.
Emails are instantly delivered anywhere in the world so when you need a document sent instantly there is nothing better. Your debt management system can send invoices and reminders through email without your interaction. Alternatively, email can also be used to send out newsletters and offers in bulk as part of a marketing campaign. If you do use email to send out large numbers it is a good idea to check the spam laws first.
Although you may not be a fan of video calling your clients you can utilize this technology in your customer support. Video calls can add a level of personality that emails cannot. While there will be some clients who would prefer not to use video calling they may discover the extra benefits after trying it.
It can lead to better customer support, reduces the time spent by sending emails back and forth, is secure, and also can help with explaining problems visually. If there is a quality issue or a query with an item, it can be shown over the video chat instead of being returned or a service agent being sent out.
The telephone is still one of the most powerful ways to communicate in business. It is easy to pick up the phone and call a client and this is a great way to keep in regular contact. After a delivery has been sent out, follow up with a call to check everything is ok. This not only enhances your relationship but will also subconsciously remind the client about the payment that will become due.
Knowing how to communicate verbally…
Of course, having all the technology in the world doesn’t mean you know how to communicate effectively. You need to be honest and transparent in all your communications, empathize with clients where needed, be clear and concise, be polite, listen and be prepared to answer any questions.
You will also sometimes have to say no. While there will be times when you are flexible and even empathize with your client’s difficulty in paying you will also have to say no if they want more credit than you are willing to give. Listen to their problems and set up payment plans by all means but when the only option left is to say no you will need to do it.
…And in written form
Written communication must also be done correctly. As mentioned above an incorrect document can lead to delays so it is important you know how to write an invoice or a list of terms and conditions. Your paperwork shouldn’t contain any ambiguity and it should be formatted correctly and be consistent.
Make sure there is no out-of-date information in any of your written communications. You will only cause problems if one of your emails says that there is a discount of 2% for early payment and another document states that it is 5% because you once trialed a different amount.
If you have a dispute you can take a client to court but communication is a much better method to resolve issues than taking this potentially expensive option. Most business disputes and problems can be resolved through communication. By having all the correct paperwork in the first place, through to issuing invoices promptly, and then automating systems your business will run much smoother.