Improving Communication With Clients

Communicating with clients is an essential part of the job as a designer. However, it's something that's hardly taught at all. Just because you've exchanged words to a client doesn't mean you've communicated. Communication is more than that -- communication is about a mutual understanding of the situation. This article is about improving communication with clients.

Survey Your Clients

Ask your client what method of communication they prefer -- email, Skype, text messages, etc. Ask how often they want updates and at what time. Get a feel for the type of person your client is. Some people like to know every single detail of an update, whereas others are more relaxed.

Speak In Their Terms

Avoid jargon and technical language. Instead of saying "I implemented responsive web design for all resolutions", tell them "Hey, the new update optimizes the site for mobile and tablet views!" See the difference? Remember, the client hired you because they aren't designers themselves. They probably don't even know the basics like what CSS is, so keep it simple for them.

Listen First

Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing is an involuntary process that starts with noise, vibrations, the movement of fluid in the ears and sound sent to the brain. Listening is a voluntary act where we try to make sense out of the noise we hear. Hearing and listening are very different because listening requires conscious action. Understand not only exactly what your client wants, but also why your client wants that.

Respond ASAP

Response time is incredibly important. If you are having trouble with it because you often forget to check your text or emails, get an app to help you! Google Chrome has a built-in desktop app for checking Gmail, and there are apps that alert you on your PC when you receive a text.

Make sure that your response is good too, don't just rush it. If the response is going to take a while, it is good to reply back a "Hey, I received your text. I'm looking into it and will send you back a reply within the hour".

Use A Task Management Tool

A task management tool shows that you're organized, transparent, and lets the client know whenever you make an update. I personally use MeisterTask which I highly recommend.

A sample MeisterTask board.
A sample MeisterTask board.

Closing Words

Do not underestimate the importance of communication, and also do not overestimate your own communication skills. Communication is not the same as talking, nor is it a skill that people are born with. It is developed and can be practiced like any other skill. Good luck!