What are good communication skills? Is it the ability to make quick connections with new clients, or is it something more substantial, like being able to explain a complex idea to a room of board members?
Though it can be wrongly brushed off as an unimportant soft skill by some employers, effective communication skills should never be underestimated. It helps build rapport with clients, facilitates the smooth operation of your business and, ultimately, makes it more profitable. Find out everything you need to know about communication in business, right here.
What are communication skills?
Oxford Languages describes communication skills as “the ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively.” While that does describe it in simple terms, it doesn’t quite capture all the nuance which comes into client communication. Talking to clients and customers requires emotional intelligence, active listening, and the ability to see things from their point of view.
It’s also important to touch on what effective communication skills are not. It’s not about being talkative and gregarious, though these traits can be useful to establish a good relationship. Even the most outgoing and affable people can be poor communicators. Good communication skills stem from using clear language, whilst also helping to frame situations in a way that can be easily understood.
How to improve communication skills in 5 steps
1. Empathy and establishing rapport
Just like in customer service, putting yourself in a client’s shoes can go a long way to aiding understanding. By knowing their background and history, you can engage with them on a more personal level and facilitate their needs in an empathetic way. Being professional does not mean you have to be cold or unapproachable, and in fact, this can even hinder client relationships. Knowing that they are speaking to another reasonable human being will help to build trust and solidify confidence in your brand.
2. Keep explanations simple
Simplifying concepts and ideas is vital to improving communication skills in the workplace. By avoiding complex jargon, you can help clients to understand how your work is going to expand their business and prevent any instances of misunderstanding further down the line. Breaking down ideas into their basic elements and creating context will enable your client to see the big picture. Otherwise, you risk leaving them to read between the lines to grasp what you’re trying to say – a ripe opportunity for problems to develop. If you’re trying to introduce your customers to GoCardless, for example, explain the benefits of the platform in a simple, easy to understand way.
3. Be honest
Clients appreciate transparency, even if you are having to deliver bad news. Though it is an unpleasant situation, sugar-coating statistics or being evasive will always go down worse and will inevitably damage the trust built up between you and the client. Being transparent allows both you and your client to make better decisions and respond quickly to adverse situations as they develop.
4. Clear, concise, and coherent
If you don’t have a clear view of what you want to discuss during meetings, any discussion can quickly turn into an unproductive ramble as each side struggles to be understood. Each meeting should have a firm agenda in place so that all parties know what to expect. Give precise information to clients rather than vague promises, as this will manage their expectations and give them a better overall view of the work being undertaken.
5. Practise active listening
Being a good listener is much more than giving someone room to speak. It’s about having a co-operative conversation that draws out more information. Listening should always be used as an opportunity to understand, not as an opportunity to reply. Interrupting for clarification simply shows the client that you’re listening and that you’re making every effort to be on the same page.
Benefits of good communication skills
Once you know how to improve client communication skills, it will quickly pay dividends. When your client is happy, they’re more likely to recommend your business to others, and by helping their company grow, so does your reputation. All that is left to do is complement your exemplary service with a streamlined payment option.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.