3 Ways to Improve Client Communication
In any professional relationship, communication will be a driving factor. For projects with good communication, positive attitudes will abound and work can continue at an efficient pace. For projects that are plagued with poor communication, mistakes will be made, work will be slowed or even halted and frustration will define the general attitude until it is over.
Set your project up for success by establishing good communication principles with your clients from the beginning and following through with them. Here are some guidelines you can use to help you improve your relationships with your clients and perhaps even earn a few new ones once your project gets off to a rousing success:
1. Simplify the Communication Chain
Anyone that’s ever worked a job has gotten tangled up in the dreaded game of “He Said, She Said.” The result is often a lot of miscommunication, mistakes and individuals who are angry after misunderstanding the situation as it truly was.
Forego these complex games of “Telephone” by establishing two individuals who have the final say in what gets communicated — one for the client and one for the contractors. These two individuals can prevent a lot of conflicting orders, changed minds and misunderstandings from bungling up the project instructions or tarnishing any important messages that need to be delivered.
While this strategy still means information will need to be passed along through other people, the fact that the client only talks to one person and the contractors only talk to one person helps reduce the amount of contradictory or inconsistent messages that get communicated.
2. Define Roles and the Scope of Your Project
Clients for nearly any industry often make huge conceptual mistakes when it comes to someone else’s job. They may ask for a project design that goes against everything modern engineering practices hold dear, for example, or they may ask for a “simple add-on” to the project that in reality would mean several weeks and thousands of dollars’ worth of extra work.
Protect yourself from potential lawsuits by establishing early on, in writing, what the scope of the project will entail. Also, feel free to assert your authority as an expert in your field from the first moment so that later you can firmly remind the client when they overstep their boundaries. Doing so may seem rude, but the truth is that they hired you for your expert knowledge and experience, so when they choose to ask you to brush these things aside, they are invalidating the service they originally wanted.
3. Explain As Much About Your Job as You Can in Plain Terms
Construction is a highly-technical industry full of jargon and complex concepts, which is why contractor bonds can often be beneficial. Clients who do not grasp these concepts may reflect this ignorance in their communication. From their perspective, they have done nothing wrong, so it is your duty to educate them and help them make decisions based on the way an expert would do so, not an outsider.
For example, a deadline for work may need to get pushed back because cold, wet weather did not allow the concrete to cure in time. Just saying this phrase to a client may cause them to fail to grasp the true nature of the problem. However, explaining how the “drying” process for concrete means more stability and a higher-quality of work built upon this foundation allows clients to see more clearly that they do not want to sacrifice the project’s viability just to have it done a few days sooner.
Likewise, providing timely project updates or perhaps even showing the client some videos about how certain tasks like wall demolition work will help build more trust and give yourself more autonomy when it comes to making important calls.
Improve Client Communication and Improve Your Business
When you improve client communication principles like these, not only will it help from project-to-project, it can help you build a brand for your construction company based on positive client experiences and trustworthy recommendations. Eventually, you should be able to win more bids not by being just the cheapest, but by being the best in the client’s eyes.