Client Communication Etiquette: 10 Dos and Don'ts Every Team Should Know

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The way we interact with our clients can make or break a business relationship. Client communication can be seen as an intricate dance - one wrong move can lead to a misstep, and potentially a fall.

Communication is your ticket to success if you pay attention and learn to do it effectively. - Theo gold

This article is your guide to mastering the dance of communication, ensuring your team always stays in step with your clients. Let's dive into the essential etiquette rules with 10 do’s and don’ts your team should know.

Apply these habits today and transform your client relationships from good to great!

Why is effective client communication important?

The most important thing when it comes to client communication is understanding why you need to properly communicate in the first place.

Here are some of the main benefits you can get out of effectively communicating with clients:

  • Building trust: Clear, consistent, and open communication helps establish trust between a business and its clients. You show that you value the input clients provide and are committed to meeting their needs.
  • Understanding needs and expectations: Communication with clients allows you to understand the project better. By actively listening and responding appropriately, you can provide tailored solutions that align with your shared goals.
  • Problem-solving: Issues and misunderstandings are inevitable in any business relationship. Effectively communicating with clients enables you to address these problems effectively and efficiently, minimizing their impact on the client relationship.
  • Client retention: Clients are more likely to stay with a business that works effectively with them. Regular updates, prompt responses, and proactive outreach make clients feel valued and appreciated, increasing their loyalty.
  • New business referrals: Word-of-mouth referrals are still one of the most effective forms of marketing. When you communicate effectively, clients are more likely to refer your services to others.
  • Boosting your sales: Through effective communication, you can identify upsell or cross-sell opportunities. By understanding your clients' needs and providing value, you can increase sales and drive business growth.

Remember, effective client communication is not only about speaking or delivering a message. It's also about listening, understanding, and responding in a way that adds value and strengthens the client relationship.

🎁 Free resource: By adopting this Checklist Client Onboarding Template, you'll be well on your way to fostering successful, long-lasting client relationships.
Client communication best practice with an onboarding checklist. Preview of the checklist with tasks, lists and different important activities.

Client communication: 10 do’s and don’ts your team should follow

Navigating the world of communicating with clients can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. The right words strengthen relationships, foster trust, and drive business growth. Meanwhile, missteps can lead to misunderstandings, lost opportunities, or damaged reputations.

So, how can your team ensure they're always on the right side of this delicate balance?

Below, we’ve listed 10 do’s and don’ts to provide a foundation for client communication and set your team up for success.

1. Do actively listen to your clients

Active listening is about fully engaging with the client. Show empathy and understand the underlying messages or emotions being conveyed.

You’re not just listening so you have something to reply back; you’re listening so that you can get to know the client better. With active listening you enrich your partnership by encouraging honesty, collaboration, and mutual understanding.

Here's how you can implement active listening in client communications:

  • Pay attention: Focus on the speaker, avoiding distractions.
  • Show that you are listening: Use non-verbal cues (like nodding or maintaining eye contact) and verbal affirmations (like "I see" or "Noted") to demonstrate that you're engaged.
  • Provide feedback: Summarize or paraphrase what the client has said to ensure you've understood correctly.
  • Ask questions: Ask clarifying questions to gain a deeper understanding of the client's needs or concerns.
  • Avoid interrupting: Allow the client to finish their thoughts before you respond.

Remember, active listening is one of the client communication skills that that takes practice to develop. However, its impact is significant and well worth the effort.

🎁 Free resource: Don't let your voice be drowned out in the noise of the world—take control of your life through the Assertiveness Training Template.
Communicating with clients: setting boundaries through assertive communication

2. Don’t make it all about you

Remember, client communication is about understanding and meeting the needs of the client. Don’t spend the valuable time you have together just talking about your own products, services, or achievements.

Here are a few strategies to ensure the focus remains on the client:

  • Open-ended questions: Encourage clients to share more about their needs, concerns, and goals through open-ended questions.
  • Listen more, talk less: Allow the client to do most of the talking. Gain a deep understanding of their situation first, then provide input second.
  • Tailor your responses: When you do speak, ensure that your responses are tailored to the client's needs. Highlight how your products or services can address their specific challenges.
  • Show empathy: Demonstrate that you understand and care about the client's concerns.

Communicating with clients is a two-way street. By ensuring the focus remains on the client, you're more likely to build successful, long-lasting business relationships.

3. Do respect your client’s time

There’s a saying that “time is gold,” and it rings true especially when it comes to client communication. Everyone's time is precious and demonstrating respect for your client's time can significantly enhance your relationship with them.

Here are the two main reasons why respecting your client’s time is so crucial:

  1. Increases efficiency: By being concise and staying on topic during communications with clients, you can ensure that conversations are productive and efficient. This is especially important in meetings, where time is often wasted on irrelevant details.
  2. Promotes Professionalism: Respecting time is a professional courtesy that can enhance your reputation and image in the eyes of your clients.

To respect your clients time, consider implementing these strategies:

  • Be punctual: Always be on time for meetings and calls. If you're running late or need to reschedule, notify the client as soon as possible.
  • Stay on topic: Keep conversations focused on the topic at hand. Avoid going off on tangents that may not be relevant to the client. A meeting agenda can be helpful to do so.
  • Respond timely: Reply to emails, calls, or messages in a timely manner. Even if you don't have a full answer yet, a quick acknowledgement can let the client know you're working on their request.
  • Set clear expectations: Be clear about timelines for deliverables. If a delay occurs, let the client know as soon as possible and provide a new estimated timeframe.
  • Choose the correct communication channels: cancel the meeting if you can just send an email or assign a task and get the same result. Being intentional when you communicate with clients shows them that you take your partnership seriously.
🎁 Free resource: Ready to become a well-rounded expert on canceling meetings? Get started with the dedicated FREE template!
Cancelling a meeting template with different task lists an essential communicating with clients skills and activities

4. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries

While it's crucial to be responsive and available to your clients, it's equally important to establish clear boundaries. Maintain a balanced and healthy business relationship and clearly define what to expect from each other.

Here's why setting boundaries is crucial in client communications:

  1. Managing expectations: Manage your client's expectations about what they can and should expect from you. Include availability hours, response times, scope of work, and more.
  2. Preventing burnout: Constant availability can lead to stress, a toxic work culture and burnout for you and your team. Ensure that everyone has the time they need to rest, recharge, and maintain peak performance by setting boundaries.
  3. Professionalism: Boundaries help maintain a professional relationship with your clients. Ensure that the relationship remains focused on the agreed-upon services and outcomes.
  4. Quality of work: When boundaries are set, you can better manage your time and resources, leading to better quality of work.

Here are some simple strategies you can implement today to set boundaries in your client communication:

  • Be clear from the start: Throughout your client onboarding process, be clear about your working hours, response times, and scope of work. When clients know what to expect, you can avoid misunderstandings further down the road.
  • Communicate your boundaries: Don't be afraid to communicate your boundaries If a client is making demands that are outside of the agreed-upon scope.
  • Stay consistent: It's important to consistently uphold your boundaries. When you make exceptions too often, clients start to expect this as the norm.
  • Use tools to your advantage: Leverage tools like email auto-responders or scheduling apps to help communicate your availability.

Remember, setting boundaries is not about being less committed to your clients. It's about ensuring a healthy, productive, and mutually respectful business relationship.

🎁 Free resource: By adopting this Checklist Client Onboarding Template, you'll be well on your way to fostering successful, long-lasting client relationships.
Client communication best practice with an onboarding checklist. Preview of the checklist with tasks, lists and different important activities.

5. Do document as much as possible

Keeping thorough records of your interactions and agreements with clients ensures clarity, consistency, and accountability. Here's why documentation is so crucial:

  1. Avoid misunderstandings: Ensure that both you and the client have the same understanding about what has been discussed and decided.
  2. Maintain continuity: In situations where multiple team members interact with a client, documentation ensures everyone is on the same page. Facilitate seamless transitions and consistent communication, even if the point of contact changes.
  3. Dispute resolution: Having a paper trail provides a reference point that can help resolve the issue more quickly and fairly.
  4. Performance and progress tracking: Documentation can also serve as a record of your work performance and the progress of the project. Tracked work can become the foundation for performance reviews, future planning, or evaluating success.

Here are some strategies to ensure effective documentation in client communication:

  • Use CRM systems: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a great tool for documenting interactions with clients. Store emails, notes, call logs, and other communication in one place.
  • Document key decisions: After important meetings or calls, send a follow-up summarizing the key points and decisions. Follow-ups not only provide a written record but also give the client an opportunity to correct any misunderstandings.
  • Store relevant files: Keep track of all relevant files, such as contracts, proposals, and project plans. Make sure they are stored in a file management system where they can be easily accessed.
  • Update Regularly: Make sure to regularly update your records to reflect the most recent interactions and decisions.

Remember, while documenting may require an investment of time and effort, the benefits in terms of clarity, consistency, and accountability make it well worth it.

6. Don’t be a yes-man in your client communication

Being a yes-man means automatically agreeing with everything the client says or asks for. Doing so comes in the way of offering honest, professional advice and feedback.

Not becoming a yes-man is important if you want to improve client communication, here’s why:

  1. Integrity: Maintain your professional integrity and be honest with your clients, even if your viewpoint differs from theirs. Honesty helps build trust and respect in the long run.
  2. Avoiding unrealistic expectations: Always saying "yes" leads to unrealistic expectations. When you agree to something that's not possible or not in the client's best interest, it can lead to disappointment and damage the relationship.
  3. Providing value: Part of your role is to provide expert advice and guidance. Sometimes, this means pushing back against a client's ideas and suggesting more effective alternatives to achieve company goals and objectives.
  4. Mutual Respect: Respectfully expressing differing opinions promotes a sense of mutual respect and equal partnership in the business relationship.

Here's how you can avoid being a "yes-man" in client communication:

  • Be assertive, Not aggressive: It's important to express your views assertively, but not aggressively. Respect the client's viewpoint and express your disagreement in a professional, respectful manner.
  • Provide evidence: When you're advising against a client's idea, providing evidence or examples can help them understand your viewpoint. Think of data, case studies, or professional experience.

Being a "yes-man" can be detrimental to both the client relationship and the success of the project.

Your client is working with you for a reason. You have something to add to their business – something that can help them grow – so don’t just agree to all of their ideas right away.

🎁 Free resource: Don't let your voice be drowned out in the noise of the world—take control of your life through the Assertiveness Training Template.
Communicating with clients: setting boundaries through assertive communication

7. Do practice transparency with everyone

Being dishonest when you’re communicating with your client is one way to break their trust. Always practice being transparent, even when it’s a difficult conversation.Give updates as necessary, even without them needing to ask.

Don’t beat around the bush when talking to clients either – favor being straightforward, clear, and direct.

Transparency is about being open, honest, and straightforward in your interactions with clients. Doing so helps you build trust, ensures accountability, here’s how:

  1. Builds trust: Clients appreciate honesty and are more likely to trust a business that is open with them.
  2. Ensures accountability: By being open about what you're doing, why you're doing it, and how it's being done, you hold yourself accountable to your clients.

Here's how you can practice transparency in client communication:

  • Share your processes: Be open about your processes and how you work. Help clients understand what to expect and why certain decisions are made.
  • Communicate challenges: If you're facing challenges, let your clients know. They'll appreciate your honesty and it could lead to a collaborative solution.
  • Be open about pricing: Be upfront about your pricing. Hidden costs can damage trust and lead to unpleasant surprises for your clients.
  • Admit mistakes: Turn the situation around and increase a client's trust in you by admitting the mistake and moving on. If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and explain how you plan to rectify it.

Transparency isn't about sharing every minute detail with your clients. Instead, focus on being open and honest in your customer communications.

Two message bubbles as an abstract depiction of practicing transparency within client communication

8. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Manage expectations and ensure that your commitments to your clients are realistic and achievable. Don’t give guarantees on things you aren’t sure of, whether it’s related to project results or the level of service you can provide.

Here's how you can avoid making promises you can't keep in client communication:

  • Set realistic expectations: Be honest about what you can deliver. Consider this for everything from project timelines to the results you can achieve.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver: It's often better to promise less and then exceed expectations than to promise more than you can deliver.
  • Know your limits: Understand your capabilities and limits. Don't make promises based on best-case scenarios; account for potential obstacles and delays.

I's natural to want to please clients and say "yes" to their requests, but honesty and reliability are far more valuable in the long run. Always strive to deliver on your promises and maintain the trust you've built with your clients.

9. Do ask your clients for feedback

Regularly seeking your clients' opinions about your work and your relationship leads to continuous improvement. Here's why regular feedback is so important for client communication:

  1. Improvement: Gain valuable insights into areas where you can improve.
  2. Client Satisfaction: Asking for feedback shows you value the opinions of your client and are committed to meeting their needs. In term, this increases client satisfaction and loyalty.

Here's are some best practices when asking for feedback in your client communication:

  • Regular check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins with your clients to ask for feedback. Chat with your clients after a significant milestone has been completed, quarterly, or at another interval that makes sense.
  • Surveys: Send out surveys to your clients asking for feedback on various aspects of your work and your relationship.
  • Ask specific questions: When asking for feedback, be specific. Instead of just asking "How are we doing?", ask questions about specific projects, interactions, or aspects of your service.

Feedback is a tool for growth. Even if it's negative, it provides you with the opportunity to learn and improve. Always thank your clients for their feedback, take it into consideration, and act on it where appropriate.

10. Don’t forget to use effective communication tools

The right tools streamline communication, improve collaboration, and ensure that everyone stays on the same page. Choosing the right remote work tools improves customer communications in the following ways:

  1. Efficiency: Streamline your interactions with clients by automating routine tasks. Keep conversations organized, and manage your communication more effectively by keeping everything in one place.
  2. Collaboration: Some communication tools allow for real-time collaboration, which can be a game-changer for projects. Tools like shared documents or project management platforms keep everyone in the loop and foster a collaborative environment.
  3. Record Keeping: Communication tools also serve as a record of your customer interactions. A solid record of interactions is crucial for transparency, accountability, and conflict resolution.
  4. Accessibility: The right tools can make communication more accessible and convenient. For example, tools that support mobile access allow you and your clients to communicate and collaborate from anywhere.

Here's how you can make the most of customer communication tools:

  • Choose the right tools: There are many tools out there, from email and instant messaging platforms to project management tools and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. The right tool for you will depend on your needs and those of your clients.
  • Train your team: Make sure everyone on your team knows how to use your chosen communication tools effectively. Mastering a new platform might involve formal training or just a simple tutorial.
  • Establish norms: Set norms for how and when to use different communication tools. For example, you might use client correspondence emails for formal communication, a project management tool for task updates, and instant messaging for quick questions.
  • Ask for client preferences: Some clients might prefer certain communication tools over others. If possible, accommodate these preferences to make communication smoother and more comfortable for your clients.

The goal of using communication tools should be to make communication clearer, easier, and more efficient. The right tools can greatly enhance your client communication and improve your working relationships.

Platform for talking to clients Rock with messaging and task management. Preview of the software with example project management elements

That’s a wrap – Effectively communicate with clients today!

Mastering client communication etiquette is crucial for every team. The ten key dos and don'ts discussed in this guide provide a solid foundation for creating respectful, effective, and beneficial client communication strategies.

The goal of these principles is to foster trust, mutual respect, and long-term relationships with your clients. Keep these client communication best practices in mind, but also be flexible and responsive to your clients' unique needs and preferences.

After all, communicating with clients is not a one-size-fits-all discipline. All good communication requires active listening, empathy, and a genuine commitment to serving your clients' best interests.

🎁 Free resource: By adopting this Checklist Client Onboarding Template, you'll be well on your way to fostering successful, long-lasting client relationships.
Client communication best practice with an onboarding checklist. Preview of the checklist with tasks, lists and different important activities.

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