Maintaining a healthy relationship with clients is key to running a successful business, and like any relationship, regular communication is an important factor. It’s important, however, to be prudent when following up with a client. Too little communication and the client will be left in the dark as to what’s going on. Too much communication and the client will probably be tempted to block your number.
With that in mind, what makes for a healthy communicative middle ground? What communication methods are most appropriate starting out and which should you employ as your relationship with the client strengthens? What elements make for a perfect follow-up phone call or email?
Here, we’ll attempt to answer all those questions and hopefully leave you feeling more confident as you strive to create that ideal relationship between yourself and your client.
Following Up: In-Person vs. Phone Call vs. Email
Everyone has their preferred method of communication, and whichever method you employ most frequently depends on what sort of client you’re dealing with. But knowing the advantages and disadvantages of these methods will help better serve you going forward.
To first establish a personal and healthy relationship with a client, having an in-person meeting is ideal. As the relationship progresses, you’ll want to make in-person meetings as few and far between as possible. Maybe once every quarter or if there is a serious change or development that necessitates seeing the client face-to-face. Always keep your client’s potentially busy schedule in mind when scheduling an in-person meeting.
Picking up the phone and calling is a convenient way to establish a personal connection with a client. It can be done more frequently than an in-person meeting. Once a month is a good benchmark. However, you’ll never want to call a client out of the blue and say that you’re just “touching base” or “checking in.” Set up a specific date and time, preferably at the end of your last correspondence, for that follow-up call. Be sure you’re not late in calling either. Just leaving a voicemail isn’t as effective as you think it is.
Sending follow-up emails are often the most frequent methods of communication and can be sent every one to two weeks, depending on the client and the scope and intensity of the project. Unfortunately, emails can easily get lost in a client’s inbox. Just like with an in-person or phone follow-up, let clients know that you will be sending them an email so they know to expect it.
How to Conduct Yourself During a Follow-up Call
Now that you have some sort of an idea of when to make a follow-up phone call, you’ll want to know how to go about approaching the actual call itself.
As mentioned before, you should have a purpose for your call, and “touching base” generally isn’t a solid enough reason. Get to the point as soon as possible without seeming standoffish. It might even help to write out a few of your important talking points to keep you focused.
Remember to let the client talk. While it is a business call, it should have the flow of a conversation. Listen to the client’s questions and concerns and address them accordingly.
Before you hang up, you should make sure that you clarify what the next steps are and let your client know when or if you plan on sending them an important or additional project information. Schedule another follow-up at a date and time that works for your client. Adding closure to a follow-up phone call is critical.
Crafting That Perfect Follow-up Email
When following up via email, it’s important to develop a framework that both captures the client’s attention and clearly articulates your points.
Hubspot provides several serviceable follow-up email templates, but there are just a few things you should keep in mind when crafting that follow-up email. For one, you want the email to be relatively short and to-the-point. Nothing will make your client’s eyes glaze over faster than a long and rambling email. Also, clarify what it is exactly that the client should be doing on their end if anything. Your client will appreciate your follow-up email if there is a specific takeaway.
Don’t be afraid to firmly request something from a client, whether it be a clarification or additional information, but do not develop a harsh tone with them. It’s easy for frustration to seep into an email, which you don’t want to happen. Make sure you’re clear on your end and trust that the client will be the same.
The Importance of Knowing Your Client
Following up with a client seems like it would be simple in practice, but it requires you to walk a fine line between over and under-communicating. Ultimately, the most important thing to do when considering best follow-up practices is work on establishing a better understanding of your clients — their habits, their preferred methods of communication, what excites them about working with you, what questions or concerns they have.
If you don’t first know a client, then you won’t truly be able to develop an effective communicative rapport. And no follow-up email will be able to fix that.