Studies show that 88% of companies now prioritize customer experience, with experience surpassing even product and price as the top competitive trait.
Customer experience is how customers perceive their experience with your company, including whether it was pleasant, helpful and worth their time.
When a business provides a good experience, 72% of consumers will share that experience with six or more people. But if a business provides a disappointing experience, 13% will share their disappointment with 15 or more people.
If you’re interested in improving the customer experience you provide, one of the best things you can do is learn to communicate with clients more effectively. Good communication helps your clients feel understood and connected to you as a provider, increasing their satisfaction with your service. As a bonus, effective communication also ensures a productive and efficient process.
But communication is more than the words you use, though that’s an important part. It’s everything from tone and language to knowing how to say no.
And it includes all communication touchpoints the client has, including you, service representatives and anyone else they interact with. It might even include third-party partners like drivers or coaches.
Everyone who communicates with your clients should heed the following tips for improving client communication.
Choose the Right Words
Choosing the right words is the first step in communicating information and sentiment to clients. Word choice can be the difference between terrible, standard and fantastic service. Take, for example, the statement “No problem.” It conveys a willingness to help well enough, but the words “My pleasure” present a better experience.
When you speak, try to rephrase everything you say with positive language. It will make your interactions more positive, focused on problem-solving and prevent you from blaming the client. Consider these examples:
Negative: I don’t understand.
Positive: Can you clarify…
Negative: You gave us the wrong information.
Positive: It looks like there was a typo. Can you clarify your address, please?
When speaking with clients, refrain from using the word “but” when possible. It tends to negate what you said before and makes you sound insincere.
You will also want to remove technical terms from your vocabulary when talking to clients; use words the average person can understand.
Wield the Right Tone
Now that you know what (and what not) to say, you must bring attention to how you say it. A tone that doesn’t match word choice is confusing and can prevent your true intentions from coming through. The right tone can help build trust and make clients feel understood.
Authoritative, empathetic, excited and encouraging are all types of tones. Which tone you use will depend on the client and the context of the discussion. If a client is upset or suffering from an injury, empathy may work best.
Avoid using a tone that a client can misconstrue as irritation or boredom. Boredom may not seem as bad as anger, but it can cause a lot of damage when clients feel you don’t care.
Whatever tone you choose, let it show through the words you emphasize and the sound and pacing of your voice.
Speak Their Language (Literally)
Over one million immigrants enter the US every year. A large number of those new arrivals, the immigrants already residing in the US and their descendants are LEP. LEP stands for Limited English Proficient and means that they speak English less than “very well.”
You already know how important client communication is, and providing a good client experience means overcoming such language barriers.
Speaking the same language as your client shows them that you care, builds trust and provides insight into any cultural differences that could affect how you both perceive your interactions. It also reduces the risk of miscommunications that result in an offended party or inadequate service.
With over 350 languages spoken in the US, the best way to ensure optimal communication with immigrant and LEP clients is with professional interpreters.
Understand Body Language
It’s not new information that people speak with their bodies. People use head nods, hand gestures and eye contact in everyday communication to establish understanding and interest.
But there are more subtle movements that people do subconsciously, like crossing their arms when feeling defensive or tapping their foot in annoyance. Such gestures don’t always correlate with an exact emotion, but it’s a good idea to learn about common body language cues. It will help you gain better insight into your clients’ feelings. It will also give you better awareness of your body language so that you can optimize it to be welcoming and receptive.
When helping multicultural clients, understanding their cultural background can be important as body language tends to change between cultures. This is another area in which certified interpreters can help.
Meet Clients Where They Are At
How you address clients and customers should change depending on their mood and situation. Happy clients are easy to converse with, and you can be more direct in answering their questions. But when you’re talking with an upset or frustrated client, you want to be delicate, understanding and use an adjusted tone.
Analyze how your clients feel and where they’re at before each conversation, and make sure you’re meeting them there.
When handling digital conversations over email or social media, you might consider using sentiment analysis tools to help you decode your client’s tone and emotion.
Be Careful With “No”
No one likes saying or being told no, especially if it means a client can’t have what they want, or you’re unable to do something for them.
You can reduce the inherent risks and frustration that come with saying no by phrasing it with care. The best thing you can do when saying no is replace the word entirely, and when you can, offer an alternative solution. No matter what, always remain kind and professional.
Do More Listening
As a service provider, you should practice active listening. This means doing more listening than talking. Being a better listener will ensure you don’t miss any important details, help you better understand your clients and help you pick up cues you may not have noticed otherwise.
Try not to wait around for your turn to talk when a client is speaking. It can be uncomfortable when you want to get your piece in, but instead, jot down a couple of notes and stay tuned into the conversation. If nothing else, make sure that you never interrupt your client when they’re speaking.
Attentive listening will also help you recall details about your clients that can you can use to deepen your relationships. For example, a client may mention that they have two kids in passing. Next time you meet, you can ask how their kids are doing.
Consistency in how you communicate with your clients is important for their comfort and trust. Imagine how confusing an informal meeting followed by a formal, closed-off interaction would be. You can adjust your tone and word choice as needed, but the overall image you present should remain.
Consider your brand and how you want clients to perceive you, your business and your relationship. Hold interactions that maintain these values.
Make Their Job Easy
You may be the service provider, but your clients have jobs to do as well. Sometimes they will have to gather information for you, conduct research or even implement your suggestions. They have their own busy lives, and the time they put into your provider-client relationship is valuable. So, make it easier on them.
Give step-by-step instructions. Provide sources and links if a reference is helpful. Be proactive and reach out to them first any time there’s an update.
Going the extra mile to save them time shows you care while speeding up your process. Efficient communication ensures productive success.
Pay Attention to the Written Word
The written word is as important as verbal communication. From emails and whitepapers to contract documents, a lot of paper and PDFs get exchanged between partners and clients.
Written items should always be proofread to prevent grammatical errors and misinformation that threaten credibility. You will also want to consider your tone, word choice and language in every email and paper sent.
When document details and mutual understanding are crucial, document translation services can help multicultural clients.
Always Summarize and Review
It’s easy to assume that you and your client understand each other perfectly. It’s the same assumption people make in all day-to-day interactions. Like most assumptions, it’s not always correct, and in a context where your business is on the line, it’s best to double-check.
When your client speaks to you, get in the practice of paraphrasing what they said back to them as a statement or question. Doing so allows them to correct any misunderstanding.
It’s also best practice when conveying a lot of information to summarize the key points afterward. Ask your client if they have any questions, and make sure they feel comfortable asking them. Sometimes clients don’t want to come off as unintelligent, so they’ll keep questions to themselves.
Make Client Communication a Priority
Our human ability to communicate so well is part of what distinguishes us from other animals. It’s what allows us to form bonds with others, and its importance shouldn’t be minimized in client relationships.
For businesses, effective communication plays a critical role in ensuring smooth operations. It also prevents the kinds of mistakes made as a result of miscommunication – the kinds of mistakes that result in lost clients or large court bills. Make communication a priority, and your clients will never want to leave.
If you’re looking to prevent miscommunication and better serve your multicultural clients, reach out to the translation and interpretation experts at iLingo2.