Let me be transparent: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Trust that I only recommend the tools that I truly believe may benefit others.
See my full disclosure.
Communication is one of the first things I address when I start working with a client. I'm not going to act like I've never initiated an email chain. You know, the kind that should have Re:Re:Re:Re in the subject line. However, when it comes to communicating regularly with team members and ongoing clients, there are more manageable methods. This is so important because the way you communicate with your team and with the clients you serve can make life harder or easier. When we talk about the way we communicate, that's not just referring to your tone. It also involves your methods. From the beginning of working with a new client, you need to establish:
What platform(s) you will use for communication
When you're available to communicate
Your contact information
Don't wait on this or let it happen by chance. Inform the client of the communication platform you use during your initial consultation. Then, when initiating your client onboarding process, outline the designated platform in your contract and your welcome email.
If you use a communication tool that a client is not familiar with, you can offer a training overview video on how to use it and best practices. You can also include this in your welcome email. If you need help composing a welcome email, grab your free template via the form below!
Let your client know when's the best time to reach you and your general response time. Then follow through on that response time. This will build trust with your client because they will see that you stick to your word.
Good communication can help everyone to be on the same page, which means work gets done.
I love Slack for communicating with clients. If you work one-on-one with a client, you can use the channels feature to organize conversations by topic, conversation, or team. Check out an example of how I would set up channels in Slack.
As you can see, the channels here are organized according to the topic. Setting them up in this way makes it especially easy to search for information and forward emails according to a specific topic, using the Slack for Gmail integration. Using this integration is a great way to help clients who are hesitant to stop using email as their main form of communication. Once you set up a Slack account and add your client, you can try the following. Do this only after you have gone through the preliminary introduction to Slack and any training materials that you feel the client may need in order to get familiar with it.
Add the Slack for Gmail integration to your email account.
When the client sends you an email, go to the integration button in your email. Then open it open and add your response in the comments and assign it to the corresponding channel or individual. Then send it.
Go to Slack and verify it was sent to the right place. The channel or individual should receive a notification for the message.
Then respond to the email and let the client know you responded in Slack and they can take a look at the response in there. You could say something like, "I received this email and I've got answers for you! I thought it would be more helpful to respond in Slack so it will be easier to reference later. Would you mind if we take this conversation into Slack?".
It may seem like you're duplicating effort. If you're going to email them about that, you may as well just email your responses to the other information right? However, you'll never break the cycle that way. Following this method can help the client to acclimate to a new way of doing things. You are introducing them to a demonstration of how much easier it is to communicate in a tool like Slack. And eventually, they may decide to break the email chain train.
If you work with clients and their teams, you can also set up Slack channels based on teams, as shown here.
The great thing about Slack is that you can assign users to specific channels. This is effective for larger teams because they will only receive information that is necessary for their role in the business.
If you are working with a team of people who have been using email as their main form of communication as well, you can try the same method mentioned above.
Establish your communication platform and practices from the beginning. Choose an app that will make it easier to organize your communication, search for topics that were discussed, and transfer information between individuals. Follow through on communicating in a timely manner. Get your relationship with your new client off to a good start to the success of your business and theirs!