As a web developer and marketer, I am at fault for using complex or abstract jargon most clients aren’t used to. I have made a mistake many times of not staying in the mindset of the people I am working with or educating on topics. It is easy to be who you are and chit chat with newbies while showing off your incredible web powers. Most of us are in this business to grow and teach people how to do better. Let’s take a minute and figure out how to lead people utilizing methods that I have successfully taught effectively.
Stop and Think
Right away, when I have a new client and project, I have to stop and think. If we are quick to assume (ass+u+me), we will make an ass out of ourselves and, even worse, further confuse the clients creating wasted time on the job. This time spent thinking can best be spent formulating questions about the client/person you are teaching/explaining. Here are a few questions I will come up with:
- What is the client/persons level of expertise?
- What exactly will they be doing in this project?
- How many people do I need to teach this to?
Get in the Clients Mindset
Ideally, before even engaging with your client, you will gauge how to communicate with the client on the tasks at hand. Take five minutes, close your eyes and figure out how you have to share and teach to your client. 90% of my clients haven’t the slightest clue what Flash, PHP, and Internet Marketing are. This means I have to break down to them and understandably what I will be doing and how this will affect their company or even change how they think about the internet. If you can bring yourself back to the days when you didn’t have a clue about HTML, then go forward from there. You will be able to communicate your ideas and build better relationships with your clients.
Grow With Your Clients
Here’s where you can start sounding like a condescending jackass to your clients. If you teach and teach all of this new stuff to your clients about blogging, marketing, or coding and continue to talk to them like ‘children,’ they will instantly feel belittled. Do not forget your clients have now grown with you and are slowly becoming ready for a higher teaching level. Like any school environment, you aren’t taught 1st-grade math for ten years; you grow and think on new stories every day. Do the same with your clients.
These lessons have helped me gain a new understanding of working with people of all expertise levels. For instance, my wife has been subjected to my incredible web powers and not understood a single word coming out of my mouth. Don’t make this mistake with your clients. To this day, I have clients who, no matter what I teach, still do not understand anything I say. I have learned and listened to them and how to better accommodate them in the future.
Have you had success in communicating with your clients? Share some success/mistake stories with us.