When I started my freelance writing business three years ago, I was confused when a potential client said “let’s set up a Skype call.” That day, I made sure the background area in my apartment was pristine, I did my hair and makeup, and then after a five minute audio call I was given the job. No video needed.
My next client also wanted to do a Skype call. I had the misfortune of assuming that it would also be an audio call. It was not. I answered the call with my bright pink cupcake pajama pants visible. In my defense, it was 6AM and a call with an international client. Still, it wasn’t the impression I wanted to be left with.
Since then, I’ve used an abundance of different tools to communicate with clients. Everything from phone calls to Google hangouts to Facebook messenger serve as primary communication tools for different clients.
So what are the best methods to communicate with clients? Which platform will help you to look most professional and have the features and capabilities you need to keep the communication going well? In this post we’re going to look at the most common options and when to use them.
Phone calls are a classic. They’re great for domestic calls, and they allow you to easily stay in touch with clients even when you’re on the go. They’re also the easiest method to use when you want to record a call with software like Call Recorder, which I typically recommend whenever possible. And, as an added bonus, you never have to worry about that video being switched on.
Phone calls have the downside of being very expensive for international calls, however. They also don’t give you the option to send files or messages during the call, or to screen share. There’s also the risk of poor reception. While my cupcake-filled pajama pants may not have been ideal, nothing is more frustrating than trying to close a contract while having to say “can you hear me now? Are you there?” every other sentence.
It can also get expensive quickly to provide employees—or even yourself—with a business line. Since you don’t want clients calling your associate and hearing “I’m away because YOLO, so leave a message or don’t” (actual message I heard last week) from their personal voicemail, this is something to keep in mind.
Summary: Phone calls work best for domestic clients when you aren’t worried about reception, and plan on recording the call, but their lack of file-sharing capabilities limit what you can do on them.
The vast majority of your communications with a client will likely be through email. Email is quick, it’s efficient, and it’s relatively permanent so you can always go back and search for what was said. It also fits more neatly into everyone’s schedule; people can get to it when they have the time. If you’ve ever tried to schedule calls across multiple time zones, you know what a relief that is.
There are a lot of downsides to using email as the only form of communication. It’s less personal, meaning that you may establish that strong bond as quickly. Many people are also not ideal written communicators, and it’s not uncommon for things to be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Without the ability to even hear a voice, it’s more difficult to interpret how the other individuals feel.
Summary: Email is most effective when used to set up initial client calls, and to keep everyone up to date on a project as it moves forward. Important discussions should take place using another communication method.
Skype & Google Hangouts
Skype and Google Hangouts are particularly popular amongst international clients. Both platforms work well across time zones, are easy to use, and are free. Both also give you the flexibility about whether you want to call with voice or audio (though Google Hangouts seems to automatically start with the camera on, at least in my experience—be ready for that one).
To have calls with more than two people, you need to upgrade Skype. You don’t have to do this with Google Hangouts, though sometimes the line will cut out if too many people are trying to talk at once or if there’s background noise.
The downsides to these options is that users all need to be able to access it; they need Skype accounts or a Gmail account, and you may need to upgrade your Skype account in order to get everyone on the call that you need to. It’s also worth noting that traditional call-recording software doesn’t work well with Skype or Google Hangouts, meaning you’ll have to find a new alternative for this.
Summary: Skype and Google Hangouts allow you to have voice or video calls with multiple different users at once, with no restrictions for international callers. It’s a good option for many, though it can be difficult to keep your accounts personal and separate.
I have some clients who like to communicate with me through Facebook Messenger. While Facebook Messenger can be an effective preliminary source of contact, it should not be your only method of communicating with clients.
Business accounts don’t always immediately get notifications on their personal profiles, where all associates would be able to get emails or texts immediately on their phones.
For businesses like myself, clients also typically prefer to add me as a friend and send me messages right to my personal inbox. This can become stressful for you, because the client can see you when you’re online at 10 looking at pictures of your sister’s baby on Facebook, but clients want an answer now. You also have to worry about what you have on your profiles.
Summary: Facebook Messenger is not an effective long-term method of communication, even though it’s immediate. They’re either messaging the business, where they can’t speak to the associate they need to, or they’re blurring personal and professional boundaries. Opt for another strategy instead.
MergeIn was designed to facilitate better communications between you and your clients. You can use MergeIn through the mobile app or on the desktop site. It can be used to communicate through SMS messaging, and voice or audio call, giving you plenty of flexibility to adapt to each clients’ needs. Because it’s a mobile app and not a phone line, you don’t have to worry about international fees.
MergeIn is more efficient than email thanks to the SMS feature, and more secure. This is important to protect all clients’ information and privacy, but becomes particularly crucial for businesses dealing with sensitive matters like those in the Retail or Travel industries. Our highly secure mobile app can help secure a level of trust with new clients.
We also offer additional benefits that will make it easier for you to do everything you need on a client call without leaving the app. You can process orders and take payments all while on the phone with your clients.
Summary: MergeIn is a versatile and flexible communication tool. Its flexibility makes it easy to adapt to each clients’ needs. We offer voice, video, and SMS messaging through our secure software. We even offer additional features like the ability to process payments all within the app. I know we might be a little biased, but trust me on this one: MergeIn is a great choice for you.
There are a ton of different choices you have when it comes to how you want to communicate with your clients. When you’re creating your communication policies, don’t forget to take your clients’ needs and preferences into consideration. MergeIn, for example, was designed to benefit consumers just as much as businesses. The ability to instantly process payments and communicate in SMS, voice, and video call gives both businesses and their clients the flexibility to make both individuals happy. And at the end of the day, that’s what we are always trying to prioritize.
What do you think? What do you think are the best ways to communicate with your clients? Which methods have worked best for you? How has MergeIn helped you? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!