Blog by Dubsado Certified Specialist, Fran Rescigno.
We’ve all heard the phrase “Communication is the key to a successful relationship”, right? But did you know that it’s also the key to a successful business? Our businesses are built on relationships: fellow entrepreneurs, clients, potential clients, our audience on social media. So today I’m going to share with you how your communication with clients and potential clients can either make or break your client experience.
Here’s what I’ll be covering:
A brief intro to client experience
How does communication impact your client experience?
What things impact the effectiveness of your communication?
How I can help you / about me
Your client experience is the sum of many touchpoints your clients (and potential clients) experience while interacting with your brand/business that impact their overall satisfaction.
Some things that make up your client experience include your branding, website, copy, backend systems and, you guessed it, your communication. Now, I’m not here to talk about the importance of client experience (but if you do want to learn more about that, check out my other guest blog). But I am here to talk about how communication impacts your client experience and how you can improve it!
You’re reading their profile, learning about them, swiping through pictures and they seem like the perfect fit. So you send them a message and excitedly wait for their response. And wait. And wait. And wait. And then all of a sudden it’s been over a week and then they finally get back to you, but by that point you’re over it.
The initial excitement is gone, you don’t feel like they actually care about you or potentially getting to know you, and you’re not really interested in getting to know them anymore.
On the other hand, if they had responded the next day and said how excited they were to meet you and get to know you, the excitement would still be there and you’d still be interested in getting to know them, too.
And when people don’t feel like they’re a priority, they’re going to look elsewhere for whatever they’re interested in, to put it plainly. If you’re starting off a new inquiry and taking days or weeks to respond to them, whether you want to or not, what you’re saying is “I don’t really care that much about the fact that you might want to work with me!”.
So if booking a new client is like meeting someone on a dating app, working with a client is like being in a relationship. Your partner won’t know that you have a dentist appointment tomorrow at 9am unless you tell them, because humans aren’t mind readers. (No matter how much you wish your partner was, amirite?)
And by the same token, your client won’t know that you’re expecting them to get back to you within 5 days or that they need to complete a form by a certain date unless you tell them.
Unfortunately for us, it’s not natural to communicate things that we feel are common sense or small details like what our ideal response time is. But these are the things that can have big implications on our project success and our client satisfaction.
We’ve already touched on this a bit already, but how quickly (or not) you respond to someone influences how you make them feel. Quick response (and no, I’m not saying you need to respond within minutes) tells people that they and their time is valued and a priority to you.
On the other hand, slow responses say the opposite. It tells people that their time is not as valuable as yours and that they’re not a priority. Obviously, we want to avoid that! So not only is it important to prioritize timely communication, but it’s also important to communicate what timely means to you!
Whether you’re going to be responding within 24 hours or 5 business days, you need to communicate that timeframe to your potential clients and clients so that they know when to expect a response. Because we each have our own definition of what timely communication is, which means we can’t assume that our definition is the same as someone else's.
Next up, we’ve got communication frequency. This goes hand-in-hand with response timeframe, but is more applicable over longer periods of time, such as over the duration of a project or the time between when someone book your services and when their project takes place.
In reference to the time between when someone books and their project starts—this will be most relevant for photographers and anyone who tends to book out their services 1 month+ in advance. It’s easy to resort to radio silence until right when their project starts. To really create a standout client experience, you want to stay top of mind with your clients. That allows them to keep up their excitement about working with you and makes them feel like they’re a priority and that you are also just as excited to work with them.
When we’re talking about communication during the project, one of the most important things is to communicate before you need something. Typically, we communicate when our clients need to do something: we need them to review something, provide feedback, schedule a meeting, etc.
But in order to create a truly seamless experience for your clients, it's important to keep them updated regardless of whether they need to do anything or not. Simply reaching out and letting them know what you’re working on this week and when the next date is that they can expect a specific material to review has a much bigger impact than you may think, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Despite how important and impactful Response Timeframe and Communication Frequency are, the structure of your communication might take the cake for most important. When it comes to structure this includes what you’re saying and how you’re saying it aka content & format.
Content of your emails comes back to the whole “if you don’t tell them they won’t know” spiel I went on earlier. The best rule of thumb: never assume what your clients/potential clients know.
They don’t know what you need them to do, they don’t know when they need to do it by, they don’t know what your process is or what you’re doing, and they don’t know when you’ll be doing it unless you tell them.
But, with everything, there is a balance between what you need to tell them and what you don’t. You want your communication to be clear, concise and informative. Not overwhelming or suffocating or like you’re writing them a novel in every email.
A lot of that balance comes with how you format what you’re saying. Avoiding long paragraphs and instead breaking them down into digestible bullet points or numbered lists. Breaking up what you’re saying into two emails instead of one.
Attention spans are shorter than ever and (most of) our clients are busy people to begin with, meaning that they don’t have time to spend 10+ minutes reading and dissecting an email. So it’s important to make sure the content of your communication is intentional.
→ Start by auditing your current communication. Make a list of when you’re currently communicating with clients and what you’re saying. Try to look at things from an objective perspective, or have a friend read them for you and see if they have any questions or if they’re confused about anything.
→ While you’re auditing what you’re saying, also take a look at how often you’re communicating with your clients and how long it typically takes you to respond to them.
Side note: If you feel like you don’t have time to maintain timely and effective communication with your clients, it’s probably a good time to consider automating some of your communication. Check out my free Dubsado inquiry workflow as a pain-free way to dip your toe into automations!
→ Take a note of any common tough spots you have with clients. Do you find that people aren’t completing their questionnaires on time or that they’re not providing feedback in a timely manner? Most of the time, this happens because they were never told when to do something by.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s completely natural to feel like this is a topic you might want to phone a friend on. If you’re looking to dive deeper into this topic, you can grab my $7 guide for Effective Client Communication where I break down everything from what types of emails to include in your process, the anatomy of an ideal email, and more!
Or, book a Client Experience Audit where you share all your materials with me (email templates, PDF guides, proposals, etc.) and then we hop on a live call to talk through your process from inquiry to end of project and I provide feedback and insight on how to improve your client experience.
If you’re ready to dive a bit deeper, take a peek at my website or head over to my Instagram to learn more about how I help creative entrepreneurs automate their processes in a way that works for them & supports their clients. And don’t forget to save 30% off your first month or year of Dubsado with my code: TPC30.
Hey there – I’m Fran! Dubsado Specialist, cat mom, sitcom-lover, podcaster, Harry Potter nerd, and neurodivergent entrepreneur. (Thanks for hanging out with me today!)
My business, The Passions Collective, exists to help creative entrepreneurs build a more sustainable business and improve their client experience through strategic automations, so that they can actually have the time to live their lives outside of their business.