Communications 101: Understanding The Right Way to Speak With Clients

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By Amin Akbarpour

As a customer success professional you should be spending the vast majority of your time communicating with your clients. Whether this is done via email, phone, social media, or in person, there’s a level of professionalism you should adhere to. For me? I have a few things I always check off before entering any conversation with a client. These items might seem obvious and more relevant to newer client-facing folks. However, they can still serve as a great checklist for customer success veterans.


Write Strong Emails

Imagine how much email you receive as a Customer Success Manager or Account Manager today. Your clients receive exponentially more emails! Besides receiving messages from you, they’re getting email from other partners, sales folks, and their colleagues. With such a crowded inbox, the last thing they want to see is a long and wordy email. When writing emails, remember to be concise and stay away from long sentences or large paragraphs. Incorporate bullets whenever possible, and ask yourself, “Would I have to scroll down more than once on my phone to read this email?” If the answer is “yes,” then you might want to reconsider before you press the “Send” button. If you truly have that much to say, then an email probably isn’t the best choice for that conversation.

I also would recommend reading E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide as it serves as a great resource for getting into good email habits.


Set an Agenda

Have you ever left a meeting and realized that you just wasted 30 minutes and didn’t get what you wanted out of it? Definitely not the best feeling. A good way to avoid this is by always starting any call or meeting with the agenda. Let everyone know how you plan on spending their time and make sure everyone’s needs are aligned. That way, if someone in the room expected a certain topic to come up, they can voice it right away and get it on the agenda. This allows you to manage time properly and cover all relevant topics. Win-win.


Summarize Next Steps

This is what I call, “clearing the table.” As a call or meeting is approaching its end, summarize what was discussed and what’s next on the horizon. Give direction and ride the momentum of a successful meeting into meaningful next steps and action items. You can accomplish this by assigning ownership of tasks and collecting due dates for completion. This way, you have your to-do list stated and agreed upon by all parties. After the meeting, summarize this in an email to the group so that everyone has their commitments in writing.


Add Value

My biggest pet peeve is when a client-facing rep reaches out to just "check in" or “follow up.” A great CSM knows these follow-ups are empty, and can feel like a blatant attempt at staying top of mind. I understand in some circumstances, you might find them necessary (scheduling meetings, getting signatures on contracts), but in most cases, there is a better way of staying visible. With a little tailored messaging, you can call out things about your customer's usage of your product, discuss a recent article about their organization, or even send them industry news they might find useful. These are all examples of ways to start a conversation and provide immediate value to the client. These are also good habits to get into, as they help you to stay current within the industry and thus able to connect more effectively with your clients.

These simple habits can help you to become more successful in your client interactions. These practices don't have to be limited to simply client-facing interactions either. They can be practiced in internal conversations as well as in general business discussions. Remember, repetition is the father of learning.

Are you a new or seasoned CSM looking for effective tips on how to interact with your clients? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops on core CS topics like Asking Great Questions and Difficult ConversationsFor more information on these and our other classes and workshops, please visit TheSuccessLeague.io

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Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect.  With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit. Amin is one of the founding advisors to The Success League. In addition to his work with The League, Amin currently serves as an account manager for Persado. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who now calls New York City home.