Ahhh, clients—the lifeblood of your business. They’re the reason you do what you do, and your love for serving them runs deep.
But the behind-the-scenes, organizational aspect of working with clients? That’s a little more tricky.
If you do any kind of client-facing work, you know all too well the challenges that come with organizing and communicating with clients (often many at a time!). If you’re not careful, you can have a pile-up of emails, pings, texts, and other communication that leaves you feeling chaotic and disorganized, always scrambling to find what you need.
Fear not—it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are three simple tips to keep you organized and communicating like a champ.
Tip #1: Get your client out of your inbox and into a Customer Relationship Management tool.
There isn’t one person on Earth who, after 20 minutes of searching through their overloaded email inbox, said, “Man, that was time well spent!” That’s because it’s not. To save on time and keep your sanity in check, move all of your client communications over to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool where all of your client files and conversations have a neat and tidy home. (Our clients love collaborating inside Basecamp3.)
Using a CRM will make your project so much more efficient, as well as keep your inbox organized and manageable (see ya, inbox anxiety!). Plus, having a “communication headquarters” creates confidence for your client and puts them at ease about the process—and progress—of their project.
Tip #2: Create templates in Google Docs/Sheets to reuse for client projects.
We know that every client is unique, but that doesn’t mean your forms have to be. Thankfully, templates are your friend—specifically templates that do some of the thinking for your clients—so make them and reuse them for each of your client projects.
Best of all, creating templates is FREE to anyone with a Google account, so there’s no excuse to not be utilizing these in your client collaborations.
One thing to keep in mind, however: go for quality in your templates, not quantity. Instead of overloading clients with a lengthy questionnaire, try to keep your questions specific and worded in a way that yields the answers you’re looking for. For example, you might have a question like “What message are you trying to convey to your customer about your brand?” Including example answers (such as ie. Volvo: safe, reliable, trustworthy; Nike: strong, athletic, active) gives your client the guidance they need to provide a great, clear response.
Tip #3: Before you hit SEND on any client communication, read your typed message out loud.
This may feel a little awkward (we aren’t listening, promise!), but reading your messages and emails out loud is so helpful in making sure they’ll come across as you intend. The point of this isn’t just to catch any grammatical errors or typos—although you’ll surely catch some—but it’s gold for hearing the tone of your message and ensuring that you’re communicating as to-the-point as possible.
We know it’s tempting to throw a quick message together and shoot it off to a client while you’re juggling deadlines, running between meetings, and thinking about what to cook for dinner later, but it can form a sloppy habit and often leave your client feeling confused and unclear. Spend the few extra minutes to type it up, read it out loud, and make sure you’re being concise with your message. It’ll work out better for everyone that way.
Pro Tip: Be clear about what you need from your client—as well as what you don’t need.
We all like to know exactly what’s expected of us, and when we don’t need to sweat something. Your clients are no different. If you’re sending an update and you don’t need them to respond, end your message with “No response needed.”
On the flip side, if you do have an “ask,” make it very clear what action you need them to take next. Sometimes it’s best to send short messages with a little less personality and very specific action steps to get your client to respond quicker.
By implementing one or all of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to scrambling less and communicating more efficiently and clearly—while also having all of your messages and documents exactly where you need them, when you need them.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Ready to start implementing? Do this: get to inbox zero by marking everything as “unread.” That way, if you really need to read an email, you can use the Search feature and find it when you need it. Then UNSUBSCRIBE from things you find yourself ignoring week after week.
About The Author
Lauren Hartlett is our New England based Brand Concierge with a passion for helping people in all aspects of their business. She graduated with an A.A.S. in graphic design and business management. With over eight years of experience, she has held a firm belief that everyone can boost their business with some fresh perspective, unwavering online support and stellar personal brand aesthetics. Find out more!