As a birth professional, communication is at the heart of what you do. When potential clients contact you, how you respond can be key to earning the trust and business of the client. Fortunately, communication is a skill that can be honed over time to become more effective. Use these tips to improve your initial communication in ways that benefit both you and your clients.
One of the quickest ways to turn off potential clients is to reply late (or worse, not at all) to inquiries about your services. While waiting for a reply, potential clients are likely continuing to search out other businesses. A slow response may cost you clients. The length of time you take to reply will likely depend on the nature of the message and the method used to send it. However, for general inquiries about your services, a reply within a few hours or one business day should be your goal.
[Sidebar: If you are unable to provide services, do not ignore or disregard inquiries. A brief, simple reply letting them know is professional and considerate, with or without referrals to someone else who may be able to help.]
How to Speed Up Your Reply
Review recent messages. Are there common questions that potential clients ask? If so, consider adding information to your website or client materials that answer these questions. If this information is already on your website, you can provide a quick, friendly reply referring them to your site.
You can also keep a record of your standard response to these questions and copy/paste in your reply to clients, saving you time. Providing clear, consistent and helpful information about your services up front builds trust and confidence in potential clients and helps streamline your work.
Sometimes, in a rush to reply we make mistakes or forget to address all of the questions potential clients have asked. Inaccuracies suggest you either a.) are too busy or b.) lack experience. When your reply doesn’t address the question or needs of the potential client, they will look elsewhere.
How to Improve Your Accuracy
Compose your reply, but don't hit send right away. Take a minute to read your reply and make sure you addressed all of the questions. Correct misspelled words and punctuation.
Write up standard replies in advance so you can ensure your messages are clear and free from typos.
If you make a mistake, send a follow up message with a correction and apologize for the error. Clients will understand and appreciate your follow up.
Many birth professional websites have a ton of general information but no clear, specific steps outlining how clients can actually hire them. Clients will lose interest if they have to weed through lengthy paragraphs to find answers. Simple, straightforward information will make it easier for clients to hire you.
How to Clarify Your Message
Review your website and materials you provide potential clients. It may be helpful to have a friend or coworker review them as well. Take note of any content that can be simplified. Ensure your website includes:
- How to contact you
- The specific services you offer
- Your course schedule or office hours
- How to hire you and payment options
- Your business address or areas you serve
You may also find it helpful to review your fees, contracts or other client materials to ensure they are consistent.
Define Your Standards
Occasionally, you may get a request from a potential client that makes you feel uneasy or is asking for more than you are willing to do. New birth professionals are often tempted to say yes to these requests for fear of turning away business. Sometimes, this turns into a challenging situation and you may regret agreeing to the request. It is okay to say no to a potential client, but it is even better to have policies and standards already in place, and stick with them. The better you clarify and communicate what you can and cannot do from the beginning, the easier it will be to handle these situations.
How to Develop Policies
Consider experiences with clients that didn’t go well. Ask yourself some tough questions:
- Why did I say yes to this client?
- Are there things I could have done to avoid the situation?
- Are there policies that I could have communicated to avoid these challenges?
- Are my refund or cancellation policies clear and in writing?
- What should I update on my website or in my client materials to clarify my policies?
Update your contracts, website or other materials once you have developed your policies. Then, you can refer back to them when dealing with challenging situations.
To summarize, take your professionalism to the next level and improve communication with potential clients by:
- Responding promptly.
- Answering inquiries accurately, thoroughly and honestly.
- Providing easy-to-find, specific information about your services, hiring process and payment options.
- Being clear and consistent with your policies.
Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life. --- Brian Tracy
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