You’re in the middle of emailing a big client when he calls you and talks your ear off for an hour. You’re irritated, because he’s wasting your time with something that could have been handled via email. But are you justified in feeling this way?
When communicating with clients, it’s important to use the method they prefer, even if it’s not your favorite. Make sure, that interaction could have been handled via email. But maybe your client just likes hearing your voice, to give him confidence that you’re still working hard for him. Maybe he’s lonely and just likes to talk. Whatever the reason, it’s your job to keep your clients happy. Sometimes that takes a little sleuthing to determine the communication style your client prefers.
It’s always a good idea to start with the most formal type of communication: phone conversations. From there, you can gauge whether every interaction needs to be via phone, or if you can move to email.
Your business card should, of course, have multiple methods of getting in touch with you, including:
- Social media profiles
Let’s say you leave a voicemail for a client. Leave your phone number so he can call you if he wants to, but also let him know you’ll follow up via email as well. That gives him the option of responding through the channel he prefers. Depending on your relationship, as well as both your and your client’s comfort with social media, you may even take to interacting on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Instant messaging is another casual means of connecting. These are especially common in the tech and marketing sectors.
The rule of thumb is: keep it professional. If you use your social media channel for personal use only, it’s probably not a good way to interact with a client. But if you manage social media for your company, and if your client does the same, it might be an easy way to ping him if you have a quick question.
Sometimes you need to use one communication channel for a particular kind of interaction. Here’s a guide to help:
- In-depth conversation about account, changes, proposal: in-person or phone
- Summary of conversation or update of project: email
- Quick question: instant message or social media
- Thank you or holiday wishes: snail mail
* Based on Professional Experience