5 Ways to Really Hear What Your Clients Are Saying
Filed under Clients
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a project with a client saying: “That isn’t what I agreed to!” Or have you had a client tell you during a presentation that they don’t like what they see? Usually it’s because you didn’t really hear what your clients are saying to you.
There’s just no time for ineffective client communication. Who has time for re-dos and restarts? I don’t. And I bet you don’t either! Instead of just listening to your clients, you need to be sure that you are actually hearing what they’re saying! To help you avoid common communication pitfalls, use my tips for hearing what your clients are trying to say:
1. Actively Listen
What does THAT mean? I’m glad you asked! (*WINK*) It means that you need to stop thinking about what you want to say next while your client is talking. Listen to each word they say, and HOW they say them. Sometimes your clients will give you cues through body language or tone of voice. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss what’s being communicated!
2. Repeat What You Think You Heard
Of course I don’t mean you should parrot back everything that comes out of your client’s mouth. But it’s a good practice to take notes and then read back certain points to the client. You can even say: “I just want to be clear…” During a project, I also like to email bullet points to my client for what we’ve talked about in person or on the phone. That way we both have an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. Another hint: This works well for contractors, subcontractors, and others on the job!
3. Wait to Talk
One of the most important times to really listen to your clients is if there’s been a challenge or issue during the project. Whether it’s your fault or not, you should listen to your client and let them vent as much as they need before you talk. You may already have a GREAT solution that you want to tell them about immediately, but let them get things out of their system! Even though they’ll appreciate a solution, they’ll want to feel like you heard them before you interrupt with your great idea.
4. Show Them
Show your clients that you really did listen to them by reminding them of what they asked for during the presentation. Like saying: “You told me that you loved the blue in your grandmother’s china, so we matched it exactly for this paint color.” You’ll have better buy-in for your designs, and your client will feel like you really heard what they wanted.
5. Give Them Quality Communication
Be sure you’re regularly communicating with your clients about the project. That doesn’t mean you have to write a book every week, but you should hit key points in weekly emails so they know where things are on the project. What does that have to do with listening? You are showing them that you are open to communication with them, and that you are anticipating any questions they might have. Of course if they respond to one of your emails with questions, you want to handle that immediately. And probably with a phone call. Show that you are ready to listen to them and to handle any concerns quickly and efficiently.
To help you with that client communication, download my Client Communication Log here! It will help make you an expert communicator!