It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Communicating with clients these days is so much different than just a work email and a landline phone. We have texting, LinkedIn, social media, DMs...the list is endless. And as we’ve become an instant gratification society, people’s expectations have changed too. Below are my slightly old-fashion, but tried-and-true ways that I communicate as a business woman to keep communication clear and professional.
(Spoiler alert: some of these are going to require that you draw some boundaries, but I know you, and I know that you’re going to be a-ok!)
1 - Email or phone call only. Never over social. Rarely via texts. All business must be discussed off social media, period. I cannot legally or ethically give business or legal advice in your DMs, but I also don’t want to. I want to get to know you and build a relationship with you; not just answer your questions via DM. I ask potential clients for their email or phone number and take the conversation out of the DMs ASAP. If the client is serious, they won’t mind.
2 - I’m not Google or Alexa. You can’t just ask me questions. To continue the above thought, another reason I don’t give advice or social media or random text messages is because it is unfair to my paying clients who pay for my time, knowledge and expertise. It’s one thing as a friend to bounce a question off of me; it’s another to shoot me a message, 3 pictures, a voice memo, and ask me to help you trademark your brand.
Just like my solution above, I start to move the conversation into email saying that I’d love to schedule a time to discuss the issue, and include my rates. Those who are serious about help will reply and respect your professional boundaries.
3 - Batch emails, calls and texts to maximize efficiency. To be efficient with how and when I reply, I only reply to emails/communications once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in evening; I’m never glued to my inbox or phone, constantly replying as things pop up. You’ll be surprised how much more efficient you can be when you’re not.
4 - Reply within 24 hours or one-business day. I have a 24-hour (ish) rule for myself, in that I try to reply to all communications within 24-hours or one business day. 24-hours is a respectable time-frame for clients to feel important; if I don’t have the exact answer for them, I acknowledge the email and tell them I need a day or two to get them the correct answer. I cannot tell you how grateful people are to feel heard.
One business-day sets a boundary for me that weekends are my days off. Just because we’re in the business of working weekends in the fitness industry, doesn’t mean that we have to be replying to non-urgent emails, calls or texts over the weekends if they are our days off. Seriously.
5 - Talk to clients like you’re talking to a family friend - mature, respectful, friendly. Even if they’re your friend or a peer. Especially if they’re your friend or a peer. I make sure that I speak to my friend-clients the same as I would any other client. I’m providing them a service and they deserve the same caliber and quality as any other client. This might mean saving the LOLs, emojis, and gossip for another time; it shows them that you are a true, professional resource and that you’re taking their issue (and $$) just as serious.
6 - Speak to your audience like you’re talking to your friend group. A lot of my clients are scared of sharing their written words in blogs, on social media, or via a newsletter, because they’re worried about how they’re coming across. I write how I speak to my friend group, because I want my authentic voice to come through. Those who ‘get’ me will hear me. And those who get me are going to be my clients, are going to invest in coaching with me, and are going to be my community in general. Don’t be afraid to speak YOUR voice; it’s going to attract your people.