5 Best Practices When Communicating With Clients

March 5, 2024

Imagine this. 

You feel like you are running around in circles with a client. You’re at a loss for how you can better explain your thought process. The constant back and forth is taking up tons of time and creating unnecessary friction. You’re afraid the smallest misunderstanding could lead to you losing the client altogether. 

We’ve all been here, right? 

Successful client communication, whether synchronous or asynchronous, can make or break a business. We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when we misread the tone of voice in a text. Or, misconstrued a weirdly worded email from our boss. It can cause, let’s call it, confusion.

It’s time we cut the confusion and replaced it with some clarity!

To help, we’re breaking down the top 5 client communication best practices so you can ditch misunderstandings and start effectively managing client collaboration.

Wait, What’s Client Communication?

Client communication is the exchange of information, ideas, and feedback between a business or service provider and its clients. 

Client communication can be both verbal and written. The most common types of client communication include: 

  • Emails
  • Phone calls
  • Meetings
  • Text messages
  • Presentations
  • Face-to-face chats

The main goal of client communication is to build relationships and ensure clarity, transparency, and responsiveness between you and your clients. 

Some of the best client interaction skills to gain? Understanding the needs, expectations, and objectives of your client, and learning to effectively convey information, updates, and progress.

And, by establishing open lines of communication, businesses can address client concerns, resolve issues promptly, and cultivate a positive client experience. Strong client communication lays the foundation for successful collaboration, enabling businesses to deliver value, exceed expectations, and build long-lasting partnerships.

Here are some of our favorite client communication best practices that can help you establish a strong relationship between you and your client.

Client Communication Best Practices

1. Practice Your Listening Skills

Believe it or not, communication is much more than talking—listening is half the battle. 

And get this: 70% of people in the workplace are affected by poor listening skills. That’s absurd.

To impress your client with your listening skills (that apparently most people don’t possess), instead of constantly thinking about what you’re going to say next, take a moment to stop and hear what they truly have to say. 

As people, we are (for the most part) inherently self-involved. When we don’t listen, we completely miss out on the other party’s side, which can lead to those frustrating circles of communication where nothing ever gets resolved. 

A solution can only be found when both parties are being heard.

Listen and understand your client’s side. Collaborate often. Work to find a solution. This will not only help get your job done quicker, but it’ll also help make your client feel valued so you can continue building a stronger relationship.

2. Keep Clarity Paramount

Do you find your thoughts constantly jumbling in your head? You’re not alone.

30% of people think client and coworker communication has become increasingly challenging in the past 12 months.

It can be hard to translate what’s going on up in your noggin’ to a client who doesn’t speak your professional language on a regular basis. 

While we tend to overthink when expressing our thoughts to our clients, the solution is quite simple. Write the main points of what you want to say down on paper in a clear and concise manner. 

The best way we find to do that? Make an outline (if you need to). 

This can help communicate the main points of your query, answer any questions they may have, and offer a clear solution to a problem you may be facing. 

Don’t get lost in over-communication. Remember—simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

3. Take Notes, Always

Did you know that a notebook can be your best friend? Taking notes can help you remember what you heard from your client and retain important information.

So, whenever you jump on a call with a client, take avid notes. Write down key points about upcoming tasks, important dates, and maybe even personal points you can check up on later. 

It shows extreme care and value when you remember the little things about your client. Not only will your notebook keep your client fresh in your mind, but it will also prevent you from allowing tasks to fall through the cracks. 

4. Edit Your Emails

Remember that weirdly worded email from your boss we mentioned earlier? 

Yeah, that’s never fun. Even when it’s coming from your end.

Avoid misleading your clients or team members by proofreading and editing your emails. Here are our tips for writing the perfect follow-up email to your client, with a few samples you can copy and paste too.

Some things to think about: How does the email read? Is the tone positive? Is there any way that the recipient could misunderstand? 

Put yourself in the other party’s shoes, and make sure everything checks out. Be clear, concise, professional, and positive. 

This will help you avoid the pothole of misinterpretation.

5. Have An Effective Communication System

Although projects often follow similar patterns, leaving the flow of contact up to the client can often lead to poor client communication, which is the cause of one-third of project failures

So, don’t be afraid to act like the expert.

You do these types of projects all the time and you know the best client communication tools for the job! Take initiative and streamline your communication with a seamless system.

Here’s our biggest tip: set expectations early. You know what the best process is for seeing a project to completion. Your company may already even have an established process in place that makes the client communication process easier. Whatever the case may be, explain that process to your client.

And, once you’ve explained your process to them, explain where they fit in. What are their responsibilities? When is feedback expected? Being honest and clear is the best thing you can do to build a trusting relationship with your client.

Examples of Effective Client Communication

It may be easy to say you’re going to put all of these client communication tips into practice, but truthfully, it’s harder than it looks.

However, when you do make these strategies consistent, it can improve your process and help create a stronger relationship between you and your client.

Here’s an example of how a real agency, Hello Amigo, put these client communication skills into practice to streamline their feedback and client collaboration process.

The Problem

Hello Amigo—a small agency doing big work for nonprofits and brands across the US—uses Punchlist to manage 22 clients and 40 active projects.

Before turning to Punchlist, an easy-to-use client collaboration tool, they were suffering from outdated methods of client communication that hindered their design collaboration and brought their project progress to a screeching halt.

Plus, they didn’t establish a consistent process from client to client which caused miscommunication and detrimental delays in feedback. In short, they couldn’t tell what their clients were referring to when they gave feedback, and their clients couldn’t understand the why behind Hello Amigo’s recommendations.

It was the cyclical feedback loop from H-E double hockey sticks.

So, Hello Amigo chose Punchlist as their client collaboration partner to help break them out of the email chains, back and forths, and feedback loops that were giving them killer migraines. 

The Solution

The main benefit of switching to Punchlist is that Hello Amigo was able to receive fast, specific client communication, all in one place.

A big bonus: the Hello Amigo team could see what the client was seeing in real time.

I like being able to see exactly what the client is referring to and seeing. I can see the feedback on the specific page and item that they’re providing it on. I also like the actionable feedback, the ‘Pages with Active Feedback’ button. I can see what needs to be attended to and skip over the things that I don’t need to look at.” - Angie Kimmel, Content Marketing Specialist

After putting Punchlist into practice, Hello Amigo saw a significant increase in the speed at which they completed projects.

For example, they work with the Junior League on big print projects like annual reports and book designs. They always have five to six reviewers who weigh in on the designs Hello Amigo creates, which in most cases would cause feedback loops.

However, Punchlist’s features made it easier for the decision-makers to see everyone else’s comments, check in on progress, and give feedback. 

Our projects are completed faster. The phases moved quickly and we're able to go onto the next step with less prodding and hounding for information.” - Angie Kimmel, Content Marketing Specialist

To learn more about how Hello Amigo streamlined their client communication, check out our case study here.

Make Client Communication Easy With Punchlist

Seeing your client communication skills shine through? It’s probably because you started using these client communication best practices.

If you really want to go the extra mile and make unorganized client communication a thing of the past, sign up for a 30-day trial with Punchlist.

Don’t let the endless email chains and feedback loops get to you. Use Punchlist to start collaborating on projects with your client and team in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Communicate Effectively?

Effective communication is a difficult skill to learn. But, with the right techniques, you can turn communication into your strength. Here are a few ways you can start communicating effectively:

  • Practice active listening
  • Set expectations
  • Set goals for communication
  • Make eye contact
  • Be receptive to new ideas
  • Make a consistent schedule of communication
  • Ask questions
  • Observe nonverbal communication

What Are Some Tips for Good Communication?

Here are a few tips for good communication:

  • Remember who you’re talking to (i.e. know your audience)
  • Think about the best method of delivery (face-to-face, over the phone, email, etc.)
  • Get feedback and ask for understanding
  • Keep non-verbal communication in mind (body language, eye contact, etc.)
  • Ask questions, always

How Do I Effectively Communicate Project Progress to Clients?

When communicating project progress to clients, think about how YOU would want to receive project progress. 

Most people would prefer to receive information in easy-to-read, concise, and visual formats that clearly show where you are in a project timeline. Gantt charts, diagrams, and calendars are great ways of doing that.

How Do I Establish Clear Expectations With Clients From the Beginning?

The best way to establish clear expectations with a client from the get-go is to first create a repeatable system that makes client communication easy. This can be through your own system or it can be by getting started with an easy-to-use collaboration platform like Punchlist.

The next step is crucial: set a meeting with your client that goes over your team’s process. In this meeting, you should make it clear to the client how you do your work and what is expected of them throughout.

What Tools and Platforms Can Help Streamline Client Communication?

There are tons of client communication tools that can help you streamline client communication. Some messaging platforms like Slack are good for connecting with your client quickly. Other video conferencing software like Zoom can help you have “face-to-face” communication with your client, even if you’re not in the same room. 

But, to truly get the most out of client collaboration, you should use client communication tools like Punchlist to manage feedback from you, your team, and your client while keeping your sanity intact.