Propeople Blog

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October 16, 2012

Tips to Effective Communication with Clients

Communication is one of the top skills people should own when working with clients or simply when in contact with their work-mates.
The correct way to express something that is on your mind might turn out difficult, as you would have to take into consideration some facts -gestures, mimics, or simply the language you use. The last one applies both in writing and when speaking to someone. Mastering the skills to effectively communicate something is a sure way to an easier interaction between a client and the provider that offers his services. 
The communication process in web development for instance should start successfully before the beginning of the project. The company/freelancer should definitely gather information and prepare a list of questions beforehand. It is better of to start making lists in order to stay more organized and note down what would you like to know about your future client. There are some tips I will address to in this blog post, but successful communication depends on each person in the end. You will have to find your own approach to each client, as well as a way to make sure that he got what you meant in the communication workflow.
Start by Building a Solid Foundation
As I have mentioned, communication (even before it has started) should be prepared from an early stage, before the project begins. You will have to gather all the information about your future client, that might further on help you out and answer your questions. It is also a great for making a list of questions or even a questionnaire that you can send to the client before your first meeting so that other questions that appear on the way could be taken out of the way right from the beginning. 
Another thing you have to remember from the beginning is being straight forward and honest. False promises will only make it harder for you to keep them up to, as the client will be expecting them. You only have to take on what you think is possible to implement and present afterwards. Correct time estimations are vital as they rely on your word of what you can deliver and when you can deliver your results.
Listen more, talk less
And by this I mean that you have to listen more to your client and his needs and try not to interrupt him. Even if you know the answer right before he put his question, listen to him till the end and then think of an answer that would completely fill in his curiosity. This is mostly important in the initial stages of the project, when the client needs to give out as much information about his future project and needs as possible. At the same time, you would have to make sure the client knows you are listening to him. 
Try to confirm that you understand what he is talking about through gestures if you are face-to-face with the client, or through short verbal confirmations while on the phone.
Use Examples When Possible
You will have to remember that some clients might not have the same technical level as you do, that's why they hired you in the first place.This is why you will have stop using technical jargon and abbreviations and use real time examples if possible. Unless you can present a good design concept that would help the client visualize how his project will look like, you can give some good examples that you can find on the net if the client wants something more standard for instance. For instance if you want to present how a menu will look like, containing drop down submenu's or a right/left side menu you can find a similar website that has used the same concept and present it.
Advise and be active
Clients usually already come with certain ideas in their minds (at least some of them) about their future projects, but of course if they came to address to professionals, that means they are seeking for advice as well. 
If your client isn't familiar with the latest trends and capabilities of the Internet, you have to make sure to let him know about them, giving a solution that would suit the client now and in the nearest future.
Organize Your Communication
Even when you are freelancing you might have more projects to handle at the same time, this is why you have to make sure to separate them. There are a bunch of software programs that can help you do that, or you can find your own way to organize your projects so that you don't get confused when working on more than one. It is also a good idea to keep the records of your communication with the client. Keeping logs might help you see what has been done wrong during the process and make sure you will be careful with these issues in the future. Experience comes with falling down sometimes and making mistakes right? Communication between you and the client during the development process has to be clear and concise. For instance if you have a question, try to gather more of them in one e-mail or phone meeting, rather then sending them separately. 
This will only make the communication process go slower and consume more time, both yours and the client's. These would be just some tips that you might consider following in the communication workflow. We would like to hear some tips from our readers as well. What do you think counts in the communication process.

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