The “truly” truth – Clients are your best teachers
Luu Binh friendly shared his true experience in dealing with clients while he worked as Event Coordinator at Scarlet Communications Vietnam, a full PR agency which has been established to fulfill the high demand of PR industry in Vietnam at present (Scarlet Communications, 2012). Binh stated in his talk that there are many types of clients we will meet when come to the industry. “There are several types of clients, including “nice” and “evil” clients. To make relationship with them, we have to know HOW to talk to them “effectively”, and it’s not difficult as you thought.” A question is raised in my mind why communicating with different clients is not difficult as what we have been taught at school. However, through the interview with Luu Binh, I got my answer.
It was lucky for me to had chances to work with Luu Binh at Scarlet Communications before. Suddenly, I met him again after few months and we talked and shared stories about people in the industry since he and I went to the same university, RMIT Vietnam, and studied the same major, Professional Communication. Personally, I admire Binh on his energetic and love to work in this fast growing and changing communication industry. Although he has worked for Scarlet Communications nearly a year, he has experienced to deal with different types of clients, especially big and “nasty” fast-moving consumers goods (FMCG) clients, both global and local. That is the reason why I called him again to have an interview about the “hottest” issue in the communication industry, how to talk with clients effectively and to evaluate you as an effective communicator.
The interview happened in a coffee store near Scarlet Communications office. Not to push him quickly to the interview, I asked him why not we had interview at the office because it would be convenience for him the most. Putting a warmly smile on his face, “imagine that you are my client, and I am your agency. When we have a meeting, creating a comfort and convenient place for both of us, is my job. Obviously, it is one simple way that I communicate to you whether we first meet or after many times”, said Binh. Indeed, his words impressed me strongly that through a small action, you can impress your clients effectively.
Do not rush and talk professionally
Go straight to the point, I asked Binh about his experience in struggling with different clients. He friendly told me not to rush. Surprisingly, I thought that in this industry, everything has to go as fast as it can. Clients aim to have the best quality of work from agency for their products and there are hundreds of agencies need clients out there; therefore, he needs to get straight to the point to make cash. However, Binh told me what I thought is true, but not enough. Indeed, aside from making a comfort and convenience place for clients, the second thing which is needed to consider is do not push the client. “One of my clients had told me that fast is good, but not negligent. You can mess up the stuff if you put the clients in your rush. Because the clients know that if you rush in talking with them, then you can rush in working, and you know, rush does not always equal with good quality”, Binh claimed in his answer.
Just a few minutes meeting him in the interview, I got two things that really brighten my mind how to talk with clients effectively. First strategy is choosing the right place and time that suits your clients the best, and the second is do not let them in the rush. Knowing how to spend enough time with different clients is golden key to succeed for agencies in communication industry.
Then he answered my question. He started to state that to communicate with clients, for example, new clients, an agency has to know a solid foundation about them. Furthermore, he asserted that getting as much information as you can about your clients before meeting them, your chance to work with them is highly than ever. There is no doubt what Binh said to me is true. According to Snell (2009), first tip to communicate effectively with client is to having a firm foundation about them to save time for both and to avoid miscommunication later if you get the contract. Snell (2009) also claimed that some clients aim to say less about them at the first time meeting. Additionally, Binh agree on the idea that clients want agencies to know them well to do best work for them.
Binh mentioned that there are several types of clients in the industry. Though they are “nice” or “evil”, which mean who treat you as fellows or who always complain and change ideas, “you have to use professional manner to talk with them because they are who pay for your life. Using written or oral methods, or even body language, all you use to talk with clients MUST BE professional”, said Binh due to the fact that people tend to communicate more with body language than with words (Cyr, 2004).
“You can learn What are needed to talk effectively with clients in university, but clients will teach you How to bring it into real life”, said Binh.
Are you an effective communicator?
How to judge yourself or someone else as an effective communicator is not officially defined. Since people communicate through written, oral and body language (Cyr, 2004), it is hard to judge who is more effective than other. Binh took his experience as criteria to judge how to be an effective communicator.
- Make clients feel satisfy and treat them as close friends
- Bring contracts to agency
- Make clients work in a long-term relationship rather than short-term
- Use appropriate communication methods at the right time
The interview went with lots of information that I have never been thought before about HOW to talk with clients effectively, not WHAT are needed to. However, it is truly true that different clients talk to different agencies differently; therefore, you can learn how to talk effectively directly while you are talking with them.
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Cyr, L. F 2004, ‘Effective Communication’, Cooperative Extension Publications, The University of Maine, viewed 8 May 2012, <http://umaine.edu/publications/6103e/>.
Scarlet Communications 2012, homepage, Scarlet Communications, Vietnam, viewed 7 May 2012, <http://www.scarlet.vn/site/>.
Snell, S 2009, ’13 Tips for Effective Communication with Clients’, DESIGNM.AG, 21 October, viewed 7 may 2012, <http://designm.ag/freelance/communication-with-clients/>.
Ho Chi Minh City, 11 May 2012
Posted by Pham Le Dieu Trang