If you work in a client facing role as a marketing specialist, or as a consultant in nearly any other industry, it’s likely you hear about the importance of proactive client communication often. However, having to send another email or make another call can be stressful sometimes if there’s already a lot of work on your plate. It’s easy to put off connecting with your client outside of your regularly scheduled reports or strategy calls if you feel it’s not something pressing.
The good news is that proactive communication doesn’t have to be a stressful or time-consuming process. There are many benefits that can result from proactive communication for both you and the client, which may actually end up saving you time in the long run. Additionally, there are a number of tactics that can be employed to make the process easier.
What is Proactive Client Communication?
You hear about it from your boss and colleagues, but what is it really? Proactive client communication can be defined as the process of communicating ideas, information, or news in anticipation of a client’s future needs. Examples include informing clients about the progression of a project timeline or sharing creative strategies for their account.
Why is It Important to Proactively Communicate?
Proactive communication with clients is an obvious part of your job and a very important one. There are many benefits of proactively and effectively educating and sharing new ideas with your client. A few benefits of proactive communication include the following:
- Gives Insight into Your Work — helping the client keep up with the account activity and status, as well as demonstrating that you are actively working to accomplish set goals.
- Shows You Care — and are dedicating additional time to provide unsolicited insights and creative ideas for the account.
- Builds Trust — and appreciation that you are invested in your work, closely monitoring the account, and knowledgeable about all moving pieces.
- Establishes Loyalty — helping to solidify a relationship and setting your company apart from competitors.
- Provides Value — as the client may not have time to generate the information or creative strategies themselves.
- Uncovers Client Needs and Feelings — providing further insight into what is most valuable to the client, as well as concerns they may have.
- Prevents Future Issues — because there shouldn’t be any surprises! The client will be aware of all account activity and you’ll have a better understanding about their needs and pain points before they turn into issues.
Where are the opportunities and how can it be made easier?
You frequently communicate with clients, but how do you do so in a proactive manner? The good news is that you probably already engage in proactive communication with your clients, even if you don’t realize it. Anyone in a client facing role can benefit from either identifying new opportunities or learning how to make the process easier for themselves. Below are a few ideas to make proactive communication easier:
Provide Project Updates
In a client facing role, you are bound to have a project or strategy timeline that extends over multiple weeks or months. Clients appreciate being kept up-to-date on how the team is progressing across different phases of the schedule, without having to wait for a monthly report or reporting call. They’ll also want to know if the team is on track to meet deadlines regularly. If a test is running within the account, send the client a quick update about how the test is progressing. Finally, it’s always a good idea to keep your client up-to-date on work that requires frequent troubleshooting or is of high importance to the client.
Make It Easy
Create a template that can be filled out on a regular basis. You’ll save time because you won’t have to worry about formatting or writing the same information multiple times. If you are using the template to provide updates on a project timeline, outline important phases and deadlines and simply add notes before sending the completed template to the client.
Report Unusual Activity or Problems
Unusual activity or issues within an account should be reported to the client in a timely manner. When you first notice a problem, spend time that day gathering information to hypothesize the cause and determine tentative next steps. Then, prepare to share the information that you gathered. Occasionally, it may take a number of days to determine the cause, but you don’t want to wait that long before reaching out to the client. It’s important to let them know that you’re aware of the issue and that you’re working to figure it out!
Make It Easy
When an unexpected problem pops up, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough time in your day to dig into the issue AND write an elaborate email to your client — on top of all the other work you planned to accomplish that day. Luckily, your email doesn’t need to be overly detailed, it just needs to touch on the following points:
- The Problem and Cause — If you have determined what caused the issue, let the client know! If it will take a few days to determine the cause, share your hypothesis with the client or tell the client that it will take some time to determine the cause.
- “Red-Flags” — How could this issue impact the account and results?
- Next Steps — Briefly outline high-level steps that you’ll take to resolve the issue. If the cause is yet to be determined, instead outline the steps to nail down what caused the issue.
- When Will the Issue be Resolved? — Provide a tentative date for when the issue should be resolved and you’ll expect the account to return to normal.
Finally, remember to notify the client once the problem has been resolved!
Celebrate Exciting Results
Who doesn’t like to receive good news? Celebrate with your client when you notice big gains, wins or interesting test results within an account! You don’t have to wait until a report or meeting to share good news.
Make It Easy
Visuals are an easy way to share and explain results. Take a screenshot of the results and include a few sentences for context, as well as what those results mean for the account going forward.
Share Industry News and Updates
Your clients have many aspects of their businesses to keep up with, it’s likely they don’t have time to keep up with the ever-changing news and trends of the digital marketing industry. As a digital marketing specialist, it’s your responsibility to stay informed so that your client doesn’t have to. You have the ability to identify and share information that is both relevant and important to the client.
Make It Easy
When there is a big industry update that impacts multiple clients, create an email template that can be distributed to all clients. Templates are easy to alter to make more relevant and personalized for each client.
Present New and Creative Ideas
Your client doesn’t have time to come up with new and creative marketing strategies and tactics — that’s why they hired you. It takes time to come up with new ideas and strategies, and present them to the client. You may feel like you have so many other things to do and the easiest option is to push creative thinking and strategizing aside but proactively strategizing and communicating is what will set you apart.
Make It Easy
You have to make a conscious effort not to get stuck in the same cycle, and make time in your day to think creatively. These ideas will help you make time for creativity:
- Block off time each week for a mandatory brainstorm session. Add it to your calendars as a standing meeting, close your email, and separate yourself from outside distractions.
- If you’re stuck in a rut, invite other teammates to join the meeting or add a brainstorm session to an agenda of an internal meeting.
There are many ways you can engage in proactive communication and develop trust with your clients and these are just a few. Try these methods and others to gauge what kind of communication your clients appreciate, because every client is different. Comment below and share other tactics you’ve tried with your clients!