5 Tips To Improve Client Communication
October 14, 2014
It happens to the best of us: you and your client just can’t seem to get on the same page. Neither of you know for sure where each other is coming from or where you’re going. Something you thought everyone was on the same page about ends up causing a huge issue because, surprise, you weren’t even in the same book. This post will share 5 tips I’ve found to help clarify some of these common client miscommunications.
1) Always Provide Deadlines And Stick To Them
There’s no faster way to cause confusion and get into a bad place with a client than not having the same expectations of when work will be completed. It’s of total vital importance to ALWAYS communicate deadlines and STICK to them.
You have to walk a fine line between going fast enough to impress the client and giving yourself enough time to be 100% sure you’ll be able to meet deadlines. You’ll have to use your gut on how the client reacts to deadlines in order to find the best timeline.
2) Provide Choices And Allow The Client To Make Business Decisions
I find myself running into situations where there are several avenues or choices to take that could have vastly different outcomes in terms of account management. While I may have a strong opinion on which way to go, it’s best to give the options to your client as they could have a big impact on their business.
For instance, let’s say you’re running an important test. You could provide the test a small budget and let it run its course over a longer period of time to keep the return of the account in balance in case the results are terrible. Or you could provide the test with a lot of budget to get results as fast as possible. You might prefer one scenario to the other, but your client is likely very uncomfortable with one of these options.
Always present impactful options to the client with all the pros and cons, and even your personal recommendations, but ultimately it is their business and they should make the big decisions. No one knows the business better than they do so they are in the best place to make decisions.
3) Speak Their Language
We’ve all had clients who just CAN’T stop focusing on something that seems really out of line or just plain weird to us. I’ve had clients focusing on clicks when they should be focusing on return on ad spend. It’s our jobs to help guide them to what matters, since we’re the PPC experts.
That being said, it’s their account and their money. If, after lots of explaining and discussing, they continue to focus on whatever metric, you’d better get on board. It’s better to have a happy client than to be right all of the time. Sure, keep that metric that you know is important to their business in check, but make sure all your reports and discussions focus on their preferred metric(s). Don’t show the graphs on ROAS when they’re talking clicks, but make sure you’re not totally blowing their ROAS out of the water if you know doing so would ruin the business.
4) Always Have A Plan
Alexander Pope said, “To err is human”. It’s true. We’re human and we make mistakes. We try and prevent these mistakes like having co-workers quality check our work or use tools like spell-checker. However, at some point, you’ll mess up.
No matter how big or how small, as soon as you (hopefully not your client) finds an error, come up with an action plan. Most clients will understand that you’re a human. What they won’t be able to tolerate is you not having a plan to fix things. Ideally you’ll also come up with a plan to make sure the mistake doesn’t ever happen again.
5) Never Tie Your Self Worth To Performance
It’s really easy to get emotionally invested in account performance and to think its successes or failures are your own. However, it’s important to realize that there are a lot of things happening in the market that you can’t control. If an account is doing poorly, your reaction, strategizing, and tenacity will show what a great account manager you are.
I’ve often seen account managers get emotionally invested in performance, which can cause a variety of client communication issues. It leads to being very defensive when questioned by the client. It can lead to hiding or talking your way out of what’s really going on, which makes you lose credibility in the eyes of the client. If you’re up-front, direct, and come equipped with a strategy to tackle the issue, your client will likely never question your abilities.
Hopefully these five tips have helped provide some insight into how you can improve your client communications. I’d love to hear any stories about how you’ve been able to improve client communication in the past and what methods you used. Use the comments section to share your stories!
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