By Kate Ranta on Feb 2, 2021 4:44:00 PM
Even the best communicators need to brush up on their skills sometimes. Whether it's over the phone, online, or in person, you communicate day in and day out with your clients. But, to keep customer satisfaction the highest it can be, you need to make sure your communication skills are up to speed. Here are some key tips to remember about effective communications with clients:
Avoid Jargon and Acronyms
Health, dental, and vision insurance is full of them. From ACA, MOOP, MAC, UCR, and EOB to in-network, effective date, co-pay and deductible, the acronyms and jargon sprinkled into the vernacular of many in this industry can leave non-industry folks with a headache. Not to mention confused. You know this stuff like the back of your hand—but not everyone does.
In meetings with clients, a big obstacle to good communication can be throwing around acronyms and jargon. It can lead to frustration on the part of your listener, who may be too polite to know they are following. It’s your job as a broker to simplify it all. Make sure you use the proper terminology, explain what it means and don’t assume the client has the same depth of knowledge that you do.
It Doesn’t have to be All Business
Obviously you have a job to do and talking business is the primary reason you’re interacting with your clients. However, to build rapport and improve communication, it helps to to chat about non-business topics, too. A good rule of thumb is to open meetings with some light, informal topics (not politics or religion!). Not jumping right into business discussions can help put the client at ease—and you’ll learn more about each other as a result. This can go a long way with building a long-term working relationship.
And, getting to know your clients on a “real” level can help you learn their language and speak to them in terms they understand and are comfortable with. This goes back to the acronym/jargon point. When it’s time to discuss the business at hand, you can complement the technical explanations that you normally give with language they’re familiar with. This supports effective communication.
Communication is a Two-Way Street
Sure, much of the responsibility of good communication is on you, the broker. However, like all relationships, it’s a two-way street. Your clients’ communication skills need to be up to snuff, as well. There are a couple of things you can look out for on your clients’ end of the conversation.
- Know who you’re speaking to. Are you talking to a decision-maker? If you’re not, realize that your message can get lost in translation between you, the middle person and the one who will ultimately make decisions. This can cause tension and misunderstanding if your words get mangled in delivery. A project’s success is related to the quality of the communication during the process. As much as you can, try to make sure decision-makers are present at key meetings.
- Make sure they got the whole message. We’ve all done it — scanned an email and maybe glossed over a point or two. Your clients may do the same with your emails from time to time. If you’ve received a response or feedback that doesn’t seem to jive with what you’ve discussed, it could be that your client sent too hasty a reply. Email is necessary in today’s world, but they can be easily rushed through or not read at all.
Your best bet is to pick up the phone to clarify, or schedule an in-person meeting. Dismissing an actual conversation is a lot more difficult than one of the hundreds of emails that may be accumulating in your clients’ inboxes.
Good communication with clients takes persistence and patience. If you are sensing frustration, nip it in the bud. By discussing issues openly, you stand a much better chance of resolving things and getting everyone back to healthy communication. Having regular meetings is a great idea, but if you notice signs of miscommunication, don’t wait until the next one. Request a quick call or meeting to address the issue immediately. Looking to take more of your skills to the next level? Get FREE continuing educations courses and credits by clicking the image below!