Crack the client communication code
It can be difficult to get a client’s attention. Bryce Sanders explains how to get your client to pay attention and how to keep in touch.
Push and pull communication
Communicating means different things to different people. Pull communication means the information is out there, but the user must make an effort to find it. Disclaimers on websites are a prime example. “Click here to view the terms and conditions”. Few people do. They just click the ‘accept’ box to get on with it. You would use pull communication technology to make clients aware information is available.
Push technology means getting their attention. You might need documentation. You need confirmation they made a payment. Forms need to be filed by a deadline. From a marketing standpoint, you want them to know about other services you provide.
Preferred communication channel
We get information through many sources. Many we ignore. According to DMR the average open rate for professional services emails in 2015 was 21.21%, beating marketing emails at 18%.
You have many communication channel choices. Here are a few examples:
- Surface mail: You mail a letter. Forms need to be signed. Express mail increases the sense of urgency
- Registered mail: Scariest mail you can get. It usually requires a signature confirming receipt. Often this requires a trip to the Post Office
- Email: It’s free and easy. Everyone selling anything uses it. Your message can easily get lost or overlooked
- Phone calls: It has a sense of immediacy. You get direct answers quickly. It’s a shame millennials don’t prefer using it. According to The Guardian, 75% of adults own smartphones. 25% of owners don’t use them to make calls. Millennials consider phone calls intrusive
- Texting: It’s “get to the point” communication. Often it’s used to schedule a call
So many choices, what to do
The above five choices only scratch the surface of alternatives. When working with clients the simplest approach is to establish rules of engagement at the start of the relationship. This includes why you would be in touch and the best way to reach them. Communication works both ways. You don’t want calls during dinner if it can be avoided.
What about marketing
The above approach is fine for serious stuff, but what about less critical communication? You provide more services than they currently use. Tax laws change. You want to alert them. What might a change in government mean for taxes? You found this great article… you might publish an online newsletter.
A simple strategy is to use two or three of the possible channels. Learn which, if any gets a response from your client. This identifies their preferred channel. Drop the others. Focus on this route going forward.
Back to push and pull. Why bother? Can’t you just post articles to your website? Sure. In the financial services industry it’s said clients percieve they are getting good service if they receive meaningful contacts six or more times a year. Consider the question: “Will my client have learned something valuable?”
Clients who feel they are getting good service are highly likely to refer you to others. A Wharton School of Business study, quoted by ClientHeartBeat, showed 89% of satisfied customers are willing to refer.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania.