Without a doubt, it’s been a strange and challenging year for all. We’ve had to adapt to a “new normal,” an experience that has affected each of us differently and changed the way we interact with others. With this in mind, we’re taking a moment to pivot from our regular digital marketing content you know and love to talk about something important to us — communication.
At the end of the day, communication is critical. It’s fundamental to the interactions we have with the people in our lives, especially with our clients. The cost of making client communication mistakes can be huge — you risk losing customer trust and loyalty, coming across as insensitive, and undercutting the value your brand has to offer.
Need a review? Keep reading to refresh your memory on best practices when it comes to communicating with clients.
Pick the Right Way to Communicate with Your Client
With a large selection of communication tools to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out which is best to get your message across. Not all channels are equal, and different clients will prefer different channels.
This is especially true when doing asynchronous (or remote) work. Tailor your communication to your client’s preferences and expectations and to the kind of information that needs to be communicated. It might be more appropriate to schedule a Q+A call instead of sending an email with follow-up questions.
Here are some popular client communication tools and their main purposes:
|General collaboration and productivity|
Want more remote working tips? Check out TPM’s guide on How to Survive When Working Remotely
Use Plain Language
Regardless of the type of communication, who it is intended for, or its purpose, you want it to be useful. Using plain language helps you focus on making information accessible to your clients and reinforces the value your brand has to offer.
“A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.”
Plain language is a set of guidelines that cover word selection, style, design, and organization. These guidelines include techniques like parallel construction, active voice, short sentences, and positive words.
When communicating technical information, it is best practice to stay away from industry-specific jargon and use common, everyday words. This can be hard — a lot of processes and procedures have words that capture incredibly specific ideas. For example, say that the software feature is being discontinued, not “sunset.” Write small- to medium-sized business, not “SMB.”
Always ask yourself whether your client will know the word you want to use. If you are not sure, spell it out, define it, or pick a different word altogether.
Show More and Tell Less
Our brains are visual. Use visual cues to help your client make sense of what they are about to learn and to make your valuable content easy to find.
Consider these design tips when communicating with your clients:
- Use easy-to-follow features like lists, tables, and headings
- Consider white space, font size, and typeface for ease of reading
- Consider whether a picture might reinforce the meaning of your words
- Group visuals with the relevant text, not floating between passages
- Use color only when it is important and relevant
Use Analogies and Storytelling
Imagine yourself in your client’s shoes and come up with some stories, analogies, and relatable points of reference to communicate technical information. This level of empathy develops trust and loyalty which benefits both you and your client.
Here are some examples we like to use when communicating with clients:
- Personal story: Share a personal experience you have had understanding a difficult concept and how you overcame it.
- Analogy: An IP address is like a telephone number — it is unique to the individual person.
- Relatable point of reference: The experience of ecommerce is like shopping in a store, it is just on a screen. There are shopping carts, coupons, and comparison tools — things you can do and see in a physical shopping experience.
Test and Evaluate
Testing and evaluating your content is one of the best ways to figure out whether or not you were successful in getting your idea across.
Give these methods a try to make sure your client communication meets the mark:
|Method||Use it to||Examples|
|Read out loud||
Need Help Communicating Technical Information with Your Clients?
The team at TPM knows how to take abstract, technical ideas and turn them into an easily digestible presentation for your audience. Contact us today.