Would You Do Business With You?
Before founding Wilmington Design Company in 2003, I owned and operated a manufacturing company for more than 17 years. During that time, I worked with a few different ad agencies and design firms. I discovered that each of the firms seemed to share a variety of personality types that at times I found a bit frustrating.
Some of the people that I worked with struggled with daily communication and spoke to me using technical industry jargon that I wasn’t able to relate to at the time. In some cases, agencies caused billing headaches at the end of projects because my team discovered additional add-ons that weren’t clearly communicated.
When I started thinking strategically about Wilmington Design Company, I developed a new perspective. I had learned so much from my years of sitting on the other side of the table. I saw what I wanted, and knew I could create a business that I would want to do business with.
So, would you want to do business with your company?
Think about your work from a client’s perspective. Do clients typically walk away from an interaction with your company grateful and impressed, or annoyed and drained?
More often than not, the most important aspect of customer satisfaction is your business’s communication skills. Do your customers understand what you are trying to say?
I have three key pieces of advice for improving your communication with clients to turn your business into one that you would proudly do business with:
1. Set Expectations.
It is always preferable to under-promise and over-deliver than the opposite. There is nothing worse than setting a client up to believe that a goal can be achieved, only to have to deliver the bad news that the goal was actually out of reach.
Be realistic, and don’t fall prey to the temptation to over-promise. It is much better to be upfront with a client at the start of a project; it will earn their respect and save your company potentially costly complications down the road.
2. Avoid Industry Jargon
Instead of industry jargon try to relate in terms of a solution.
One example of this contrast is homebuilder communication. Homebuilders could speak with their clients using terms like “R-value”, or they could choose to say “keeping your house warm” so their client understands.
Customers like to be kept in the loop. Using unfamiliar terminology in your conversations only serves to alienate and frustrate them, rather than make them feel like a valued partner.
3. Do What You Say
This advice may seem obvious, but you would be surprised to know how many times companies don’t follow through with what they originally said they would accomplish. Set your company apart by being known for your commitment to results and following through. Deliver on your promises in a timely manner.
Successful communication with clients boils down to respecting their time, making them feel comfortable, being transparent, and valuing your relationship.
My experience on the other side of the conference room table has given me a customer-centric perspective on how to talk to customers. Our team strives to frame projects in a way that revolves around the client and makes clear sense to them. We deliver the goals that we initially promised, and follow through to ensure our customers are smiling and at ease at the end of the day.