When it comes to staying in touch with clients, it is very easy to fall into the territory of over- or under-communication. Either one wants to make sure that the client knows and approves of each and every project detail, or one is fearful of disturbing the client repeatedly. In the former case it is likely that your client will become annoyed by what seems like a haphazard approach, and in the latter the radio silence may be seen as an indicator of disinterest and lack of professionalism.
Smooth, regular communication can play a key role in the success of projects. Here are a few simple things one can keep in mind in order to maintain the correct balance of communication.
Pay extra attention to the beginning. In the first phase of the project, try and get as much information as possible. Drawing on your previous experience, anticipate questions and problems that may come up and get the answers to these right away. Do this through questionnaires and meetings (you could even take audio notes during meetings so you can refer to them later). This effort in the initial stage will be worth it later – when foreseeable issues crop up at inconvenient times, chances are you will already have the client’s response and will not have to reach out repeatedly for clarifications. Obviously, there will always be certain developments one cannot anticipate; the idea is to minimise unscheduled communications during the course of the engagement.
Schedule regular check-ins. This rather easy step is often overlooked. It is important to decide on a system of updates together with your client as soon as the project begins. Your regular check-ins may be daily, weekly or fortnightly, whatever works best for you as well as the client. In addition, decide what each meeting will involve – progress reports, feedback on completed work, next steps, scheduling for the upcoming week, and so on.
Vary your medium of communication. It is tempting to rely solely on electronic communication, especially with clients who are in different countries. If this is your preferred medium, do ensure that you employ other methods of interaction as well. It is not uncommon for people to respond to emails without reading them fully and this can create significant gaps in communication. To prevent crucial details from falling through the cracks, address these through in-person meetings or video conferencing. Audio conferencing is another popular medium of communication.