This is the fifth post in a series called Y U No Tell me; Lessons learned from building a WordPress development business. For a list of all posts in the series, please start here.
Back in 2001 while working at my previous job, I got in to work one day around 8 am. A client, I'll call him Ted, had sent me an email a couple hours earlier. There was a problem with his website. I immediately dove in and started researching the issue. It was a weird one and the solution wasn't obvious. Around 9:30 my boss stepped in to my office and asked what was going on with Ted's site. Feeling proud of myself for being so on-top of things, I explained that there was an issue but I had already researched and found the problem and was currently working on the solution.
He asks, “Did you tell Ted?”
“Well, no because I didn't know what the issue was, so I didn't have anything to report. So I dove in and started working on it right away.” Still feeling proud of myself for being on the ball.
“Did you tell Ted?”
“Uh, no. I just started looking for the problem.”
He tells me, “I just got off the phone with Ted who was FREAKING OUT because his site is down.”
“Right, that's why I dove right in and am working on fixing it.”
It's obvious at this point I'm not coming off as the hero in this story like I had thought when he first walked in to my office.
“But does Ted know you're working on it?”
No longer feeling as proud as I did for diving right in… “Well… No.”
A 30 second email to the client when I first read his email to let him know that I was looking in to the issue would have set his mind at ease. Yes, he would still be concerned about his site being down. But, at least he wouldn't have to wonder if somebody was even looking at the problem.
Communication will make or break you
Here's a tweet that was sent during my presentation at WordCamp Tampa:
— Jesse Ⓦ Petersen (@jpetersen) October 5, 2014
Staying in constant communication builds trust between you and your client. If you have good news to report, do it. Bad news to report, do it quickly. Nothing good comes from holding on to that information.
You will find that staying in constant contact with your clients will also build a relationship that will make it easier to deliver bad news because your client will know that even though there may be a setback, he can trust that you're working to solve the issue.
Do you have your own story about communicating with clients? I'd love to hear it. Leave a comment below.
Stop back by tomorrow when the topic will be “It's OK to fire a client“