Lack of communication and transparency is what keeps most architectural businesses in the UK in a state of stagnation. Without client satisfaction, you’re not getting referrals. Without clear communication, you have little chance to upsell other services, and unorganised messaging often leaves you fighting over money with your clients.
It’s exponentially easier to run an architecture practice when you dedicate enough effort to building out effective communication strategies and patterns. Effective client communication builds lasting relationships with them, helps grow your brand, and ultimately boosts your earnings.
We’ve been working with thousands of UK architects, and we know how crucial effective client communication is. PlanMan has a dedicated client communication module where most of our clients find a lot of value.
Let’s go over some of the cornerstones of effective client communication, including strategies and the tools to implement them.
Be early, timely, and proactive
The sooner you let your client know about potential project constraints, limitations, or any issues that are about to arise – the better you can come up with a response to these situations. Never wait until the last minute – always be proactive since it shows that you care.
Consider creating a roadmap with all possible scenarios for each phase of the project. A lot can change during the project implementation – the market, the materials cost, regulations, competing projects’ developments, and so on. You need to be upfront about all of these project feasibility factors and their dynamics.
Do not assume any knowledge or awareness on the part of your client, and always give the full picture in a concise manner – this will help boost your perceived authority and ultimately build trust.
Make sure you go beyond just the project part and learn more about business models and goals for your clients. Not only will you build trust and increase client satisfaction by showing this type of attention, but you will also be able to come up with better ideas and suggestions for the project.
Be financially transparent
One of the most common client complaints is that things end up costing more than initially declared. To avoid being seen as a party shifting goalposts and breaking the contract, make sure you have updated, transparent pricing at all times. Have a clear invoicing schedule and keep your invoices uniform.
We have an accountant-friendly invoicing module in PlanMan, so you won’t have to worry about that part of client communication.
Consider having a price list with all the must-haves and extra services you offer, and explain early on what exactly each part gets you. Make sure you’ve designed your client onboarding process to contain an explanation of your invoicing structure and other financial milestones.
Be responsive and available
Give your clients peace of mind by clearly indicating how they can contact you and how fast they can expect a response. Once you set your communication rules and make them clear to your clients – follow them. Prompt responses make your clients feel important and build trust in your professional relationship.
Keep healthy boundaries, though – you don’t want to be thrown off-track by ad-hoc calls and “urgent” messaging. Always communicate on your terms, but make sure your communication schedule is generous enough so your clients do not feel left out.
A weekly status update on the project goes a long way, and even if you’ve not progressed much in a particular week (e.g. waiting for other contractors), produce an update anyway so that the clients are on the same page as you are.
PlanMan’s client communication module lets you organize all your communication through one channel instead of having it scattered over emails and messengers. There is an easy-to-use client portal where everyone you work with can log in and check the status of their project.
Calibrate your online presence
We recommend maintaining a strong and active online presence as a part of your marketing and branding strategy. However, be mindful of the messages you send to your core clients through online channels. For instance, if you delay major deliverables for a key client, posting humorous sketches about your office life or parties may be counter-productive.
To avoid these situations, have a well-thought-out social media and blogging calendar filled with evergreen educational content to keep building your online presence without making anyone feel neglected.
You also need to watch the tone and voice of your online content – make sure it corresponds to the level and tastes of clients you work with. You can construct your own reality here in a way and improves the way your current clients perceive you by producing high-end authoritative content.
Keep it visual
Make sure to calibrate your messaging and be on the same level as your clients in terms of project understanding and visualisation. Some clients respond better to simpler imagery rather than precise one.
Having clear visuals for each stage of the project helps with that greatly – there are many tools (both AI and conventional ones) for making your ideas accessible even to non-technical audiences.
Visioning workshops are a great help in achieving this – make sure you hold them and make them interactive, informative, and visually appealing. Ideally, have regular visual deliverables for your clients. Our document management features allow you to store and share files with your clients easily.
Gather and use client feedback
Never lose the feedback your clients give you – because it gives you invaluable insights. Gather and process all their feedback – either extract it manually from their messages and turn it into condensed actionable bullet points or survey your clients directly.
Working with client feedback lets you see the whole operation through the client’s eyes, which is the best way to adjust your services. A smooth and rewarding customer experience is what moves the needle in your earnings.
Use the right tools
We’ve built PlanMan specifically to help you bind all your efforts together into meaningful and streamlined operations, where communication, invoicing, collaboration, and all other parts of your work maximize your growth.
Other tools beyond project management can help you keep your client communication effective – drafting, AI helpers, CRMs, and many more. Start by trying out PlanMan for free, and follow our blog for more ideas!