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Creating the right impression with a customer is something all freelancers worry about, especially if business is done long-distance. So much information is lost when we transact over the ether, which makes our communication skills that much more important and (even more nowadays) which tools we use to communicate with.
I recently wrote a piece on how to create a high impact on your customers by managing their expectations properly when doing business with them over a distance. If you didn’t see it, then you can read it right here: Freelancers: Get Client Wow-Factor By Managing Expectations.
Perfecting a *sustainable* and *repeatable* way of communicating with all your clients takes time, practice, and learning. It’s a long road, but well worth the effort. Once you’ve perfected it, it becomes easy and feels effortless, allowing you to be smug whilst all your freelancer friends still struggle to keep their clients uptodate!
Let me point you to a great article on the FreelanceFolder.com website – How To Successfully Work With People Long Distance, which discusses the intricacies of non-verbal communication as it relates to business at distance. Some great tips there!
It is because of these intricacies that I strongly believe in choosing the right tools to reduce the effect of lost communication. Choose the right tool for the right job! This is why web-based project-management tools work very well as they enable you to be very clear and specific about your project-based communication. Need to provide support to your client once you’ve gone live? Then choose a support ticket systems to automate your communication processes where appropriate!
There is always a tool out there to help you communicating with your customer, and manage their expectations effectively.
The challenge for freelancers is to find the best tool for the job. There are often countless options, so how do you know which to choose from? In my experience, trials are the most effective. Good news: A trial if often free (the software vendors want you to take a trial)! What I do is be explicit with my customers that I am trialing a new piece of kit – I bring them in on it. They’re often glad of it because they’re learning about new software too. Why I like to do this is if the tool doesn’t work out, we can agree to can it quickly with no loss of face. The aim is to improve our business relationship, and they know that, so being realistic and nipping it in the bud quickly only demonstrates that I have our mutual interests in mind. So don’t be afraid to try something, and then bin it if you and your customer both feel it’s adding no value.
Do you want to share your experiences of using tools to manage long-distance customers? Do you know of any new or unusual tools? Then please share them by leaving a comment!