Client interaction is a weekly if not daily activity; however, face-to-face client interaction is becoming an irregular way to manage client and project expectations. So how can you increase the productivity on projects and manage a successful client relationship on the phone? Below is a list of tools to help you organize and manage an effective and productive client call.
Every call needs a plan. Have an agenda, a goal for the meeting, and share that with the team. Define the information you need to obtain in the meeting in order to move forward on a project. Communicate in advance of the call what your expectation is with the client to ensure everyone that is dialing in is on the same page. Are you utilizing visual technology to present information? Test your technology to ensure you are comfortable and able to operate correctly.
Keep it professional.
Have ground rules for each call. Ensure success by reminding attendees to pay attention (no surfing the web while semi-listening) and be on time, it will set the tone for a professional call. Keeping everyone engaged and involved in the call will help people feel their time is being respected and the call is useful. Make sure the conversation is productive and task-oriented and limit emotional responses or knee-jerk reactions to statements. Lead by example and keep things focused.
Know your audience.
Varying personalities respond to information differently, so be sure to phrase your conversation in the best way for your audience to receive the information. Set your client up for success with clear examples, clarifying visual samples and project documentation. They will likely have to deliver this information internally to their team. Be patient with explanations; it’s human nature to need to hear things more than once.
Having a meaningful Q/A session.
Have a healthy dialogue with your client. Explain your recommendations utilizing previous project experience or industry standards. Offer opinions and advice when needed to illustrate the benefits of the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and repeat and confirm statements to ensure clarity. Be an active listener. Let the client complete their thoughts and ideas; it’s okay to pause and wait to respond. Just because the client doesn’t immediately respond doesn’t mean that they don’t have questions.
Assumptions are the enemy.
Don’t assume you know everything about the team you are talking with. They might have an internal protocol they have not shared. Technological skill level may vary with your audience, make sure to describe process and outcomes in easy to grasp explanations. Avoid using internal or industry jargon. Does your team use a lot of acronyms or tech terms? Have a team member review all documentation prior to delivering it to the client to remove the jargon you use internally. It is your job to create a successful work and communications environment for the client.
Controlling communications with clients and hanging up from a call with answers, a plan and next steps outlined will lead to successful forward momentum for all projects. Make all client calls count!