Three common mistakes in communicating with a client

    On duty, we often have to communicate with freelancers. This communication often goes beyond the scope of work, becoming friendly and friendly. In private conversations about the hardships of freelancer life, I often heard about the same problems that they have when communicating with a direct client. Let's look at three tips that I had to give most often:
    • Do not restrict communication by correspondence
    • Explain customer workflow
    • The main question for all occasions: "What is the goal?"

    Do not restrict communication by correspondence

    “Evaluate the correction of incorrect, in your opinion, prototypes, so that they become correct in cases where incorrect prototypes.”
    How many times have you received such “no-understand-what” comments from a client? In the most sad cases, the customer then refers to these snippets of phrases as a signed 300-page contract.

    The fact is that all people communicate not only through words (verbally). What they say is also supported paraverbally (by intonation, pace of speech, etc.) and nonverbally (by gestures, facial expressions). There are different opinions regarding how each of the three channels of information transfer is relatively important, but most importantly, all three are important!

    Clients are ordinary people. Among them, the same percentage of smart, nice people, and idiots who did not study well at school, as well as among you and your friends. Many of them do not know how (for various reasons) to express their thoughts in writing .

    You need to understand: the responsibility for what you understand the client lies with you . We recommend building your communication as follows:
    • Before starting work, find out the phone or, in the worst case, Skype-contact client. Separately, say that you need voice contact, and for complex projects - eye to eye (via Skype, but better personally). Do not take on the project if the customer is not satisfied: the likelihood of serious problems in communication, and, therefore, in work, will be very high.
    • Having received incoherent text from a client, call him and tell in plain text that you misunderstood his message and ask him to repeat in other words. At first it seems scary to make yourself an idiot, but nothing but an improvement in understanding happens.
    • Having understood from the words of the client what he wanted, be sure to repeat to him what he said in your own words. "Thanks for the clarifications! So, I understand you correctly, that ...? "
    • If everything is in order, then thank the customer for the time spent, write down and send her a summary of the conversation to her client .
    Generally speaking, it’s useful to do this even if the task is clear to you (omitting the second step). Formulate the task as you understand it, and obtain confirmation from the client, preferably written.

    Explain customer workflow

    “Yes, we like this layout of the main page! Already launch the site today? ”
    You often find yourself in a situation where the work is almost done, and then the client set out to make edits that change almost the entire logic of the site. Or, having approved a couple of mock-ups drawn by you, the client asks: “Tomorrow can I fill the site with texts?”.

    This happens from the client’s misunderstanding of the technology of creating sites. He has his own picture of the world, he is not to blame for the fact that he does not understand: to remake the design at the testing stage is tantamount to doing the job again. In his ignorance, he is like a child - since no one said that this is impossible, then it is possible.

    Responsibility for the fact that the client understands you and shares your approach to work (surprise! Surprise!) Also lies entirely with you.

    That is why before starting work on a project, you must fully coordinate the workflow.: both orally and in writing (not by agreement, so at least by letter in the mail). Keep in mind that speaking is very important: many people don’t read what they confirm (when was the last time you read EULA entirely on software?).

    Yes, then you will formally get rid of claims, but the client will be dissatisfied and will not come to you again.
    • First clarify what the client wants and what the problem statement is (the algorithm is described above).
    • Understand exactly how you will work and formalize the workflow : what stages there are, how long they will last, when and what results the client should agree on what to do if he wants to make changes at later stages.
    • Speak successively to the client each point in the process. Ask if there are any questions and something with which he does not agree.
    • Obtain both verbal and written confirmation that the client agrees to follow the proposed process.
    The very idea that you, such a genius and terribly busy, should engage in such nonsense as the education of a client, is very annoying: this is a little bit of a little. However, only in this way can one be held responsible for the success of the project. Only after doing everything that depended on you, you have the right to call the client a dumbass (unfortunately, these also happen, which is already there).

    The main question for all occasions: "What is the goal?"

    Let's play with colors (play with fonts, move blocks).
    There are frequent cases when the client demands to do some stupid work. And again a surprise: he is again like a child who sincerely thinks that a still life of vinaigrette with a cat looks very beautiful. You are a professional, and you must keep him from such trepidation.

    Fortunately, customers are adults. Unlike children who understand the “why” motivation (“Why should I do this?” - “Because a smart uncle said that!”), Adults are guided by the “why” motivation (“Why should I do this?” - “Then, that as a result there will be such-and-such ").

    In our example (finally, this is already a common place) you are responsible for ensuring that the client abandons his venture to play in fonts. You can do this by asking the question “Why?”, Finding out what exactly does not suit the client and for what purpose he wants to make changes. And as soon as the client wants to play with fonts, ask him a question: how, in his opinion, this will serve the goals and objectives of the project (did you formulate them before you started? No ?! nuuu ...), which he himself approved with his signature and his voice ?

    Surprisingly, behind this very “let's play with fonts” often there are some sensible thoughts that the client cannot yet formulate, but feels some kind of client sensation. And it may turn out that the blocks really need to be moved, otherwise the most important message on the page is invisible.

    Instead of a resume

    To summarize, once again I will list important for any manager and freelancer (who is his own manager), I’m not afraid of this word, the basic settings:
    • Be active.
    • Responsibility for the fact that you understand the client, and for the fact that the client understands you lies with you.
    • Be sure to use voice in communication, and in large projects - personal meetings.
    • Before starting work, find out the goals of the project and agree on the workflow in advance.
    • Use the question “What is the purpose?” Instead of the question “Are you completely stupid?” For any strange customer requests. Very often there is a grain of truth in them - learn to find it.

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