We’ve all had “bad” clients, but did you know that good communication can help your experiences with clients be… well, good? Many common frustrations we run into at work, no matter your job, can result from information not being passed smoothly from one person to the next. Problems can never be solved if you don’t talk about them, and communicating ahead of time can help prevent issues entirely. In this article, we’re going to give you some communication tips that will help you convert even the most unruly of customers into clients you can enjoy working for!
Identify the Problems
The first step to alleviating the problems that make your clients “bad” is figuring out what those problems are. Do they send you emails and then call you to make sure you got the email? Have they forgotten deadlines or returned paperwork half-finished? Do they miss meetings or get confused about whether you’re meeting on Zoom or Teams?
Good news! These are all problems that are fixable with good communication! Once you know what’s not working, you know what needs to be better communicated to your clients.
Create a Client Communication Plan
The client communication plan is one of the most valuable documents you can have for managing relationships at your firm. Ideally, the plan should be outlined during the onboarding process — but it’s never too late to establish rules and boundaries if you want to start using communication plans with old clients! Remember, your clients ALSO want to know what’s going on, so they’ll probably be happy to have the guidelines.
Need some help getting started? We’ve got a more detailed guide that you can find here on how to develop a strong client communication plan.
Gather Feedback Regularly
Instead of waiting to get feedback from a negative review once you and your client part ways, ask for it regularly. This will help you gauge whether or not you are communicating effectively with your clients. Think about it: if your client missed a meeting because they couldn’t find the Zoom link, they were probably just as frustrated as you were. Maybe that means meeting reminders need to be sent or the necessary links and codes should all be in one central location.
Remember that Clients are Only Human
Unless you’re working for an infallible robot, mistakes are bound to happen sometime, and decisions will be motivated by emotions. Your clients seek out your business because they’re afraid. You understand things about accounting — and, most likely, the IRS — that they don’t. No one wants to get in trouble for making a mistake. Your clients need this to go smoothly just like you do. While not every client is sunshine and roses, most probably aren’t meaning to make your job difficult.
Maybe there are some terrible clients out there — but they’re few and far between. Most bad clients are just the result of poor communication. By improving communication, you can turn bad clients into good ones AND attract more good clients in the future.