8 Communication Mistakes to Avoid to Build Stronger Client Relationships

Written by Mile Zivkovic


One of the most essential areas of any business is building and maintaining solid relationships with clients and avoiding communication mistakes.

No matter what industry you are in, your success and stability heavily rely on how well you can communicate and get along with others. How you communicate with your clients and customers plays a huge role in building rapport with them. Moreover, it may make it more likely for them to continue doing business with you.  

Still, a recent study found that one of the leading causes of client projects failing is poor communication. You may not automatically think about communication skills as an important business skill. However, being able to communicate effectively with clients can solidify your relationship with them. Ultimately, it can lead to more business.  

For that reason, we have put together this guide showing you some of the most common communication mistakes. 

Undefined scope of work

When you first sign up to work with a client, it is essential that you clarify exactly what is expected from the partnership. As part of this, you should define the scope of the work. That way, there are no gaps between you and your client’s understanding.

That is essential as you need to assure your client that they’re getting their money’s worth. At the same time, you set boundaries on the things you can do for them. While this may not sound like a big deal, it could cause major problems further down the line. 

Therefore, to ensure that you and the client remain on the same page, you need to set clear expectations. You need to do this as early as the business proposal stage. The introduction of your proposal should indicate your goals and give the client a good idea of what they can expect from the engagement. 

Having a defined scope of work helps instill a strong sense of communication. It may also help you brainstorm more effectively and deliver better results. 

communication mistakes - unsuccessful

When discussing client expectations, your business proposal should also discuss time frames. That way, you can ensure that you are delivering results when expected. But always be honest about what you can deliver and when. Remember, offering compressed timelines could be detrimental to your reputation if you can’t deliver quality output. This is one of the most common communication mistakes out there.

We would also recommend that you solidify any communication you have with your clients about the project’s scope by including it in your proposal. First, it shows the project description, which gives a brief summary or overview of the project. Then, we have the deliverables. They are key in ensuring both you and the client know what needs to be delivered. 

Meanwhile, the acceptance criteria show the threshold that could be used to measure the quality of the deliverables. 

This document can also serve as a reference point should an issue arise in the future. According to TriangleHouseHunter, this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect yourself in case of legal woes.

Not asking your doubts

When it comes to communication tips for building strong client relationships, you should always remember that there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Clarifying something you are unsure about or questioning whether a client is making the right decision shows that you care about your relationship and want all parties to benefit and you want to avoid communication mistakes

For example, if you are a freelance writer who is always keen to learn how to write better and you are given a brief that you don’t think is great or doesn’t make sense, then always ask for clarification. Remember that you are being hired for your skills and knowledge, and you have something to offer your client that they don’t already have. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be working with you in the first place! 

We would also recommend that you never make assumptions about client expectations and demands. If in doubt, just ask! That will prevent you from wasting your time completing a task that isn’t right. It will also stop your clients from receiving something that doesn’t offer maximum benefits.  

Using unprofessional language to avoid communication mistakes

How you communicate with clients has a significant impact on how they view and perceive you. While you may be sending emails quickly, you must always use professional language to make the right impression. 

Sending an email that doesn’t put yourself or your company in a good light can significantly impact the client relationship. You may not think an email will impact your clients’ decision to continue working with you. However, remember that you want to be a company that clients like. Failing to remain professional may leave your correspondence with clients abrupt, tense, or demanding. You don’t want that.

It can be challenging to know how to build relationships with clients remotely. That’s especially true in industries such as remote selling where there are no face-to-face interactions. 

Nevertheless, you can build great client relationships through emails. You just need to know how to format and write those emails. Here’s an email template showing how you can do that:

business email template

We would recommend that you always start an email to a client with a friendly opening and greeting, similar to how you would if you were having a face-to-face conversation. Then, get down to the primary business of the email. Finally, include a CTA offering your assistance to the client. Wrap up the email with a closing line.

Not reviewing your contract properly

We are all guilty of occasionally not reading the fine print as thoroughly as we should—understandably so as most people are usually overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of signing an agreement with a client. However, failing to review your contract properly can result in serious issues down the line.

For every contract or proposal you sign, whether for an agreement between a client or a third party, always check out the terms and conditions. If there is anything in the fine print that you aren’t sure about or would like to know more information about, then be sure to clarify it. 

Don’t be afraid that this will jeopardize the contract or project, as it simply shows your client that you know the importance of the finer details.

Undervaluing your skills

Many professionals are guilty of undervaluing their skills. Maybe it’s due to the lack of confidence in your own abilities. Or perhaps you don’t know how much you should charge. Whatever the case is, undervaluing your skills is a big communication mistake. It’s one that could damage your client relationships and derail your career’s progress.

Gig professionals need to learn to say no. It can be hard to say no to clients, as you want to protect the relationship at all costs. But you need to have confidence in your own abilities and know your worth. 

New small companies and freelancers often undercut their costs in order to bag a new client and secure income. However, if you go in at a lower price from the start of your relationship with a client then you will find it increasingly difficult to ever get them to raise the price. 

If you’re unsure how much you should be charging, do some research and reach out to others in your field. If you are never quite able to close a deal for the full amount, you may benefit from learning some new sales techniques.

Not following up

Not following up with clients is another big communication mistake many professionals make. Clients like to feel valued and essential. But that won’t happen if you only get in touch with them when you have to. Don’t just reply to emails when clients contact you. Instead, keep following up and updating them with regular notices and developments. 

Following up with clients doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you might think. Whether you are contacting a potential client as part of a personalized email outreach campaign or you are updating a current client, a mail merge in Gmail can speed up and scale up the process. 

At the same time, it is crucial that you find the perfect balance between keeping your clients updated and getting in touch with them too much. Clients want to know the essentials. Therefore, emailing them every other day with pointless updates may only damage your relationship with them. 

Always inform clients of essential news or information when necessary and keep the lines of communication open. That shows you are an accessible, reliable, and trustworthy person/company to do business with. 

Avoiding saying ‘no’ clearly

Of course, no one likes to say no to their clients. It can make you feel like you are falling short on your side of the agreement. But many clients know that you feel this way. Therefore, some of them can take advantage of you.

If you say no to a client, you may feel like you risk them walking away from your business relationship, and you could lose their income altogether. However, in reality, saying no in the right way is unlikely to push clients away from your business.

why customers stop using your service

Therefore, one of the biggest communication mistakes you can make isn’t saying no. Instead, it is not saying no clearly. The image above shows all the reasons why customers stop using your service. It demonstrates that 68% of customers leave for one reason. They believe you don’t care about them and aren’t invested in your relationship with them. 

To build and maintain strong client relationships, you need to ensure that you are always upfront and honest about what you can achieve. For example, if a client makes a request that you can’t fulfill or deliver, express that to them clearly by saying no.

Of course, as we discussed earlier, you should remain friendly and professional with your clients, so decline their requests politely. But being ambiguous could seriously damage your working relationship. Letting a client believe that you might do something when you know that the answer is ‘no’ could lead to huge frustration and conflict further down the line. 

Therefore, if you think that something is not a good idea or you are unable to complete a request, a clear no is always a better option if you want to protect your partnership and show a client how much you care about them. 

Withholding your expert opinions

If you want to stay on the good side of your client and protect your relationships, then you may be nervous about giving your opinion if it goes against what a client has suggested. However, to build rapport and the foundations for a long and stable working relationship, you must give your professional advice. 

If you know that a client is going after a deliverable that won’t work or will not help them achieve their end goal, it is your responsibility to share your expertise with them. Remember that you are the expert, so don’t worry about correcting the client or coming across as a know-it-all. 

For example, if your client is keen to grow their online presence and you know from experience how to increase your blog’s following, you could share with them the expert tips and methods to achieve that. 

Never sit back and watch a client make a mistake because you are afraid to give your expert opinion as the chances are, the client may assume that you didn’t speak up due to a lack of knowledge and experience. 

Conclusion

Whether you are just starting out in your business and want to build the strongest client relationships from the offset or want to expand your outreach strategy and scale up your business, avoiding these communication mistakes can help you stay on a path to long-term success. 

Taking the time to get to your clients and building up a rapport with them can make a considerable difference in the type of relationship you have with them. While making it easier for you to avoid these common communication mistakes. Instead, by remaining professional at all times and always being honest about what you can provide you can maintain strong client relationships that thrive and develop over the years. 

About Mile Zivkovic

Mile Zivkovic is a content marketing writer and content marketing manager with more than 5 years of experience writing for SaaS companies. He enjoys covering topics on marketing, productivity, freelancing and entrepreneurship.
Categories: Sales Tips