Guidelines for Communication with Clients
(Expert edits and suggestions by Ken Stilwell)
1. We are doing business and earning our ‘breads and butter’ only because clients pay us.
2. We can be happy only if our customers are happy; there is no exception to this. Their success is “our” success.
3. It takes months and years of efforts and expense to acquire new customers and it takes only a minute to loose them.
4. THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT, not matter what they ask or say.
5. We are working to solve the problems of our clients/customers and we are here to support the growth of their business.
6. We need to help customers find solutions to a their problems, we cannot say ‘We cannot help”, we have to say, ‘We will do all our best”
7. Never tell client that ‘we are too busy to help’.
8. Don’t tell clients that we have too many projects/work to do or we are too busy to help. Let them know that we are only working for them and we are always available for them.
9. If you don’t understand any point /requirements, before asking the customer questions, first explain what you do understand
10. Always provide an option to the client as per your understanding, for example, I think we can implement this feature by 1.xxx 2.yyy, 3.zzz
11. Let the customer know what you have done (research and investigation) to find the solution, even if you failed.
12. Even though you don’t have solution to the problem, suggest possible sources where the client can find the solution.
13. NEVER ASSUME THAT YOU ARE 100% RIGHT, There is always a chance of being wrong. Sometimes the truth lies in the middle.
14. Please remember that what you know is not a ‘Universal truth’. There are many things that you might not be aware of. Always write/say, “As per my understanding”.
15. Your message in email and conversation should be ‘supportive’; customer should feel that we are here to help them. Please provide all possible advice and suggestions but take care that you don’t conclude anything or make an absolute decision on behalf of a customer.
16. Try to understand the problem and requirement from the clients’/business perspective. Don’t only think from technical perspective
17. Try to feel the ‘Pain’ and ‘feelings’ of a customer. Put yourself in his/her shoes for a minute.
18. If anything is running/working properly at your end, don’t assume that it is same case at clients’ end. Try to think like the customer and imagine his problem. The customer’s idea of “working properly” may be different than yours.
19. Make all efforts to understand what the customer is trying to explain, don’t be prejudice.
20. Ask questions and don’t assume as it is always better to ask questions rather than concluding something, for example, ‘I sent you an update email last week but you did not reply”, instead communicate like this, you can write “did you receive my email last week with an update”?
21. If you don’t understand any instruction from the client, don’t write ‘I don’t understand what you are trying to explain’ instead write’ can you please help me to understand this?”
22. Never lose your patience while you are talking to the client/customer. If you do, the customer will probably do the same. Control the conversation in a positive professional manner.
23. Listen and read the client’s communications carefully
24. Please never say to the client that they are ‘wrong’ or they are missing something. “CUSTOMERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT’. Please accept that you can be wrong even if you feel that you are absolutely right.
25. Never conclude or make absolute decisions on behalf of the client. Don’t write to client that ‘Everything is working fine’. There are always chances of missing something. So write, ‘As per my review everything is okay at my end but please review and let me know immediately if you find any issue. “
26. Never say ‘You did not reply to my email’, always ask ‘Did you receive my email? Can you reply back to me at your earliest convenience? Or “Can you please reply to me when you get time?” if it is not urgent.
27. Don’t write that “reply me immediately”, instead write, ‘I would appreciate if you can reply to me quickly’.
28. Never write ‘You are ignoring my comments and you did not read my email”, instead write, ‘I think you may have missed my email, when you get time please read my email in detail as I tried to explain a few points”’ or “Would you mind reading my email once again?”
29. If a client sends any email asking for request/changes/update, please confirm/acknowledge immediately, if possible with an estimated time to complete.
30. Please note that at the end of the day, you need to update all clients, even if you have not completed any task. Just reply like ‘We are working on your project and I will update you soon’, if possible by estimated time/day.
31. It is important that you really understand what the client is trying to achieve and develop your code to achieve this. Don’t just write code based on a request you don’t fully understand as your result will probably be incorrect.
32. Let the client know that you find their project interesting. This will help build confidence and help build the relationship
33. Finally, a few suggested diplomatic words/sentences you should add to your communications.
a. As far as I know
b. As per my understanding
c. I think
d. I will let you know ASAP (if you can’t have fix estimates)
e. Can you please help me to understand?
f. Please do me a favor
g. Should you require any more details, please let me know.
h. At your leisure
i. It is little difficult (If you think it is not possible)
j. You are right, but ……
k. I am not sure but ……..
l. Have you considered … ? (to make an alternate suggestion or idea.)