Crack the client communication code

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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.

According to the Raticati Group, the average number of business emails we receive is 91 per day. The average user is sending out 40 themselves. The open rate for emails received overall is 30.6%.

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.

About Bryce Sanders

bryce sanders

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania.


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17th Jan 2017 10:39

its about finding the right way for each individual client, mostly phone calls and texts are the best, but we use email, texts, whatsapp, facebook, viber etc, you have to find the best way for each client.

Some for example do their emails at 1am, I never get emails on a saturday, often do on a sunday afternoon.

However even in the days of snail mail we used to get a 30-40% response rate - clients just ignore stuff and expect it will be dealt with

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to NH
24th Jan 2017 16:56

Thanks for responding to my article and for making that last point. Some people can be pretty unresponsive. Unfortunately this wastes time making multiple attempts.

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18th Jan 2017 08:56

With texts. whatsapp, facebook etc I am interested how do you keep a record on clients file (either manual or electronic) for future reference or in case you get sued for what has been said?

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to North East Accountant
18th Jan 2017 09:02

LOL, so far no one has tried to sue me for asking if they can send me a missing bank statement, or asking them to call into the office!
no one would use whatsapp etc for giving in depth tax advice

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to North East Accountant
24th Jan 2017 17:03

Good question. The financial services industry struggled with the question of archiving for years. I think there are service providers out there who solved that problem. That solution probably works for e-mail. Social media is likely to be a much bigger problem.

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19th Jan 2017 11:59

Extract above
'According to the Raticati Group, the average number of business emails we receive is 91 per day. The average user is sending out 40 themselves. The open rate for emails received overall is 30.6%'

Sounds about right. Great article, I may need to advise someone of this in the near future, good timing Bryce.

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to AndrewV12
24th Jan 2017 17:00

Thanks for finding that statistic valuable. There's lots of that kind of data out there. (A Google search on e-mail statistics should yield plenty.) They go into how many are opened, by type (political, professional, sales, marketing). The data is out there!

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26th Jan 2017 13:31

Glad it helped. There's lots of statistical data on e-mail. You can easily search for it on the Internet. You can learn about effectiveness, open rates, etc. for professional e-mails, marketing or sales, political ones, etc.

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06th Feb 2019 10:05

Communication between couples has been dissected in thousands of books and articles, so why does it remain the number one marriage problem? "Because," says Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, "most spouses don't know that they speak two different languages

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