This is a guest post by Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson, co-founders of Ebbex.com, an iPhone and iPad apps development company. In the last year, they’ve had great success (and committed a fair share of mistakes!) creating apps for clients all over the world and decided to share their findings with the fine readers of Inspired Mag in the new Freelancing 101 series.
Bringing other people’s vision to life is a difficult and often times emotionally charged process. As we have shared before (link), the way we communicate with our clients is directly related to the success of the project. In this post, we want to talk about why over communicating, why its good and how to do it.
Over Communicating is Communicating
In a personal relationship, constant updates on our lives can be a nuisance. We tend to bring this model into business but it actually does not work. In the midst of a project, clients will always have the need to know. Updates on project progress, challenges and even milestone successes will always be asked for. Rightly so, clients have a string need that can only be met with communication. Since most clients will have these needs, why don’t we anticipate and talk to them before they ask
Over communicate and tell your clients whats going on even before they ask; this will give them peace of mind and let them know that you care, that you are on top of things, it will also make their day.
Over communicating also fills up the grace tank. Any designer or developer know that at some point, the project will experience and unforeseen complication. Our usual reaction is to delay telling the client since we don’t know how they are going to react. With a history of over communication, breaking the bad news will go over smoother. A history of over communication usually means a history of trust.
So how do we become great over communicators? By not emailing clients.
Email sucks, it really does. Communication strands are cumbersome, people often forget to hit “reply all” and its very impersonal. Instead, great over communicators resort to good’ol phone calls. iPhones, FaceTime, Skype, Vonage or even land lines will do. (yes they still exist)
Emails are usually crutches for honest conversation. Its a decontextualized method of communication, we can often chose to just express facts and avoid the necessary context to interpret them correctly. We have all been guilty of hiding behind an email. Be courageous and over communicate via a phone call, the more you do it the more comfortable you get.
Schedule the conversation, beginning an end. (we use base camp, more on this below)
Communicate the agenda in the same message
When starting the call, re-state the agenda
Don’t defend your opinions but have a conversation, everyone knows the difference and can discern your approach
Basecamp: the project management and collaboration tool made by 37 signals is great to keep track of a project. Every user c an be kept in the loop and there is a main repository for all conversations, files, calendar events and to do items. We use this everyday, and while most of you might already know about it, we can’t write about over communicating without complementing base camp.
Remember, communication leads to satisfied clients but over communication leads to happy clients and happy clients lead to more business. When is the last time you gave your clients a “just because” call?