The many people in the world, the many opinions – also in the online world. Growing customer awareness, ever higher service expectations, development of the online segment – all this means that companies from the IT world are facing ever greater expectations. As a result, many inexperienced companies face hard-to-jump obstacles to customer communication. So how do you organize the communication process to stand out in an increasingly competitive market? We’ve collected the 6 best tips on how to better communicate with your client.
Rule 1 – Start with… establishing the rules
This may seem simple or even trivial. Years of experience have convinced us, however, that setting the rules at the very beginning of cooperation is one of the best practices that can be advised to a company at its beginning. The more such rules, the better. The wider their scope, the better. It is important that both parties – you and the client – know how the entire cooperation should go.
Already during the first meetings with the client, determine how you will communicate – will you meet in person? Will you arrange weekly phone calls? Or maybe meetings using Zoom or Skype will be the best? Remember to define the frequency of these meetings. You should also decide right away where important decisions and key project information will be saved. Confluence, YouTrack, JIRA – there are many tools available. Don’t forget to ask who will be responsible for approving the next stages of the project.
Rule 2 – Prepare a roadmap
A roadmap is an overall plan that describes the vision of product development over time. It allows you to formulate the point to which we should bring the product and gives an answer to the question why this project is worth implementing. The roadmap helps to communicate how the product development should proceed, as well as define the strategy in specific time frames. It helps to coordinate the development phase and synchronize product development with other projects.
The roadmap is very helpful in communication with the client, so it is worth preparing it together at the first stages of cooperation. By creating it together, the client will be aware of what the team will be designing and how much time each stage will take. Additionally, the roadmap will show the client what results can be expected in specific time frames.
Rule 3 – Avoid understatements
The rule is obvious, but … it turns out to be extremely important. At every stage of cooperation, make sure that you understand the client well and that they understand you well. Avoid jargon and specialized terminology – most customers won’t know what you mean anyway. Many of them will never admit that they do not fully understand you.
This will only lead to problems with the further development of a common vision of the product, and this means a waste of time and money. When there are understatements, at least one additional meeting will certainly be needed to re-clarify key points.
Rule 4 – Visualize ideas
This principle is also related to understanding the client. Every time a new element of an application, page or other digital product is created, visualize it on a computer, tablet or even a piece of paper. The best practice is to prepare such a visualization together with the client – this way the client will understand much better what you want to convey. Even if the client says that they don’t need visualization, it’s still worth doing.
Visualizations allow for the rejection of previous theses – it very often happens that the client, when preparing the visualization, decides that they want to go in a different direction. While this can be cumbersome, it is useful in the long run – your team doesn’t waste time on fruitless work and can focus faster on the new, modified goal.
Rule 5 – Choose soft communication
Soft skills are the key to getting along with the client – the client should feel understood and listened to at every stage of cooperation. Therefore, communication should be “soft” – try to adapt the form of meetings and work methodology to the client. Never push solutions that you are not convinced of, even when you are sure you are right. Bet on personal skills, be flexible – this is definitely the key to success when it comes to finding a thread of agreement even with the most demanding client. In the business context, building relationships and communication is the way to success. Your ability to adapt to customer requirements may at some point prove crucial.
Rule 6 – Understand the client’s business
This principle is indirectly derived from the principles mentioned earlier. Before the first meeting, check what the company represented by the client is doing. Find out what kind of customers it has and what competition it is facing. After the first meeting, obtain all possible documentation that the client can make available to you (e.g. competition analysis). This will help you understand their needs better and it will be easier for you to come up with the best solution in a given case.
We hope you already know how to communicate effectively with your clients. However, if you need support or want to know more, please contact us. The Stepwise design team will be happy to help you!