Communication is a significant, and often overlooked, part of our everyday lives. Without effective skills in this area, we can’t get our ideas across and achieve an optimal outcome. We might end up causing offense and creating a misunderstanding.
Identifying best practices for communication in the workplace can help us make our point more effectively in a professional setting.
This article will provide tips on avoiding common communication pitfalls. We’ll also explain the best communication practices you can use with clients so that your business can truly help clients reach their goals.
Communicating with a client
As coaches, we interact directly with our clients during one-on-one or group sessions, but often also for customer support and marketing purposes. As solopreneurs, we don’t have employee communication best practices to bank on, so we must do our best in every situation when our clients call on us. Successful coaching that helps clients achieve their goals relies on feedback, empathy, and collaboration, and needs constant effort and improvement.
Why effective communication matters
The client-coach bond is more than a usual professional relationship. To coach effectively, we must create trust and understanding with our clients and ensure they’re comfortable bringing up problems to us.
This kind of relationship builds a solid and lasting bond inside of which both parties are consistently working to improve and deepen the relationship.
Client communication best practices
What steps can we take to build this ideal coach-client relationship? Here are six tips to work into your next session:
1. Listen to your clients
Here’s a valuable tip for a coach: Keep your client’s needs at the center of any conversation with them. This is called “holding the focus.” The client is our focus in any session, and it's their growth that matters.
Practice active listening when a client is speaking. Demonstrate friendly and attentive body language by making eye contact, smiling, and nodding to indicate understanding. You can even take notes to organize your thoughts. When they’ve said their piece, follow up with clarifying questions or prompt them to elaborate.
2. Be clear about your ideas
Trust is a pillar in any successful coach-client relationship. Ensure you’re being transparent. But there’s also a delicate balance to strike here: Keep clients updated and informed about your practice and decision-making process, but only when it’s relevant to them and their goals.
It’s possible to say too much without communicating anything useful. Be clear on what the client needs to hear.
3. Personalize your communication
Everyone communicates and absorbs information differently. If, at first, it feels like you’re not getting through to a client, don’t be discouraged. Switch gears and try another method or approach. Watch for nonverbal cues to determine what communication style a client prefers, but it’s okay to ask them directly too.
If a client doesn’t have a preference for a communication style, compare and experiment to see what works. For example, hold your coaching sessions face-to-face, over a video call, and also over the phone, and see which one feels most comfortable to the client. Find out how clients prefer to be contacted in between sessions. Do they prefer text messages to phone calls? Are they active on social media? Do they mind emails or newsletters?
4. Don’t assume
A surefire way to increase individual customer satisfaction is to ask the client about their needs and goals and then, to help fulfill them. As always, these needs will vary from client to client, and we should be thoughtful about personalizing each coaching plan.
Always reach out to a client when in doubt. Don’t assume. Another great way to better understand clients is to regularly request feedback and demonstrate that their comments are valued. Do this by factoring in the insights in your decision-making for future sessions.
5. Communicate often
Coaching sessions may not always happen as per our schedule. Have a solid communication strategy to stay in touch with your clients in between meetings to demonstrate that you’re invested in their progress.
By staying in touch with your clients in between sessions, you show concern that goes beyond billed hours. But also be aware of boundaries. Stay professional and keep trust and transparency at the forefront of the relationship.
To minimize response time for client emails, schedule a time to organize or clear your inbox daily. Additionally, establish regular business hours during which you make every effort to be available to check in with or speak to clients.
6. Be respectful
Ensure that clients have access to communication tools, scheduling, and other related information needed to contact you. Don’t waste a client’s time or take longer than necessary to respond to their inquiries. We’ve got many responsibilities, and communicating with clients is just one of them.
When sharing bad news, a change in schedule, or any information that may inconvenience a client, be upfront but patient. It’s best to be honest, avoid miscommunications, and demonstrate empathy and understanding when sharing negative information.
The importance of constant improvement
Nobody becomes better at communication overnight. The best results come from consistent effort over a period of time. We might invest in getting better by taking communication workshops, but trial-and-error is an equally effective way to hone our skills.
We can demonstrate our commitment to constant improvement by reaching out to our clients for feedback and taking appropriate action. This shows our dedication to the role and helps strengthen the coach-client relationship.
Are you looking to improve communication with your clients? Try Practice’s all-in-one client management system today to hit the ground running.