Exchange of technical information’s effective with customers is always challenging while executing a project. Many Developers in this community come across these situations every day. For clear, healthy and effective communication with the client, it is essential for developers to make technical simplification so that communication is more fruitful and simpler.
In general, 5-15% of weekly workload is going into client communication. We feel there six ways to communicate more purposefully.
1) Selection of communication channels
Different communication channels have their pros and corns and do carry equal weight. Individual prefer the different mode of communications. Some prefer phone, other emails, few video conf calls, many ones to one meeting and so on. weren’t born equal. It should always be a customer’s preferred channel. It demonstrates you are flexible and adaptable. It has to be made sure he/she’s aligned and agreed. And yours should be either email or project management tools. Mainly because written channels give more control on words and language in addition to focus points. Right from the day one of project start set the rules of the game about the mode of communication channels are going to be during the project review and updates. This will help you to verify the validate the contents. Most importantly fix the frequency of exchanges otherwise, the expectations will go out of proportion. The drawback of live chat is that it does not give you time to rethink and study the question thoroughly. Live chat also consumes lots of unscheduled time. Even if sometimes you have gone for live chat always summarize at the end and try to recap the point either by mail or your project management schedule. Keep track the sequence of communication exchanges so avoid override some.
2) Visual Assets to be used as much as possible:
Written communication is always a preferred over any other type but the contents have to be very clear. However, to make it further simple visual assets can be sued to the better understanding of technical aspects. The simple reason that human mind capture image faster than written contents and remain in memory for a long time. Visuals are easy to decode and many times it does wonder. It’s like sharing screenshots while explaining to the customer this gives the real feel to a client what are you doing than explaining. Videos, PPT etc.
The email communication showing screen shots makes the customer understand faster that bug is fixed. Show them on Mobile and Tab how its looks like rather than explaining.
3) Bring forward the relevant references Leverage
Many clients will have at least some experience with the web or technology in general. Try and use these as points of comparison to simplify your technical initiatives or challenges. Most developers we talked to affirmed that referencing technical common ground helped their clients understand better. A few examples:
shopping cart and e-commerce modules can be compared to Amazon experiences;
social interactions can be illustrated with common features of Facebook or Twitter;
content management functionalities can be compared to Word Press’ well-known CMS.
Go ahead and ask your clients what tools, apps or technologies are they using in their lives. Then ask yourself: How can you draw parallels with these to better communicate your point?
Analogies were another popular simplification technique during our interviews. Many developers used simple metaphors to ease their client’s understanding. An analogy that often helps is comparing the building of software, sites and apps to an actual house. Some decisions and material choices need to be done first for the whole thing to stand solidly later on. And some tools you’re using are probably literally like a house’s pre-built foundation. They allow you to kick-start development and get the walls up faster.
4) Be empathetic and constant
A transparent and positive communication always wins the confidence of customer and build strong relationships. Cleats do not care how competent you are in technical (not to forget that you are there because you are competent) instead put yourself in his shoes. You are building relationships in addition to software’s, websites and apps. Negative signals create doubts therefore never show frustration, impatience, avoidance as it will damage the trust. Keep track of customer satisfaction by way of some feelers time and again so that corrections can be initiated in follow-up meetings.
5) Provide Options, involve clients in decision-making
While handling a complex issue, never demonstrate limitations, offer options and if you cannot find a right answer, involve client to decide the right choice but you be the leader in evaluating the options. Once they understand the technicalities better to offer choices.
6) Know where to draw the line
Many times if you over do the simplification of technical stuff it carries a tag of drawbacks. You loose time of yours and your client. So limit the simplification extent. Maybe it’s too small an issue to go into the details and calls for a long discussion.
Don’t limit yourself to make short-cuts on small issues. Meaning, limit the exposure of client for non-critical issues. Don’t forget you have already built a trust and client will trust you for your action. Therefore, drive the discussion topics carefully.