“Stop. Hey, what’s that sound?”

Have you taken a moment to listen to your clients lately?

It’s a fact of life that, at some point, you won’t be able to give a client the attention they deserve. It’s disturbingly common; we’re so busy with our daily tasks that we neglect to respond to a string of client e-mails or calls. It’s a challenge to get back to them all in a timely fashion, but one that pays dividends for your clients (and for you) should you meet it. Try to view e-mails or a brief phone call as an opportunity to deepen the relationships you have with your clients. Constructive feedback can help you improve your business, reduce errors and create new opportunities. In order to get it, clients need to feel you’re open to their opinions and accessible.

Stop! Hey, what’s that sound?

For us, at Developware, client feedback is viewed as a valuable resource and one we encourage all of our partners to provide. We’re aware of trends in project management and the challenges facing the ad world at large. Our product decisions, however, are predicated on the volume of requests we receive for specific features from YOU, our users. One of our founding principles is to exceed client expectations by not only by providing great software and service, but also by listening to them and continuing to provide a best-in-class experience, utilizing the best technologies available.

Here are a few simple tips to improve your communication skills and convey to your clients that you’re open to suggestion and value their input:

* Update your voicemail message – If you’re going to be out of the office attending a photo shoot, be sure to update your message. Let your clients know you’re out of the office and when they can expect a return call.

* Pickup messages and return calls – Return all phone calls within two business hours (if that’s reasonable for your day). Nobody likes it when their primary contact is elusive.

* Reply to your e-mail and schedule a follow-up – I use my e-mail Inbox as my primary to-do list. Whenever I receive an inbound message, I call or e-mail in response. Then, I log the communication in my , or in CurrentTrack, and schedule a follow-up task. The original message is filed away or archived only after action has been taken. My goal is to keep my Inbox empty most of the time.

* Think about your messaging – Remember, you’re talking to a paying customer (or a potential customer), be sure to take the time to collect your thoughts on the subject and articulate a clear and economical response. Even when you have to deliver news that will disappoint the client, your message should have a positive tone. You should suggest alternatives, and always make it clear that you’re willing to listen.

Challenge yourself to improve your methods of communications and share your thoughts and results in the comments!

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