While client communication is crucial in every industry, it’s essential in construction; on a construction project, poor communication can result in losses of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. On-site miscommunication can result in safety hazards and injury or even death.
Even the most experienced construction managers have dealt with ‘the divide,’ or the miscommunication between you and your client. Do they thoroughly understand the project’s prices, schedules, and technical details? Is your client aware of the reasons for delays and accepts the risks involved?
1. Immediately establish credibility
Your initial visit with a client should establish a trusting relationship. They want to know that you’re the best candidate for the position. It isn’t the time to be modest; instead, remind them about similar projects you’ve worked on in the past. Please show them your digital portfolio and explain how your previous accomplishments relate to the project you’re about to start.
2. Stay away from industry jargon and buzzwords.
Your life’s passion is construction. Every day, you live and breathe its language. While speaking with a client, it’s easy to forget words like screeding, balloon framing, and backing rods. But, when you’re talking to a client, do their eyes ever glaze over?
Excessive technical jargon, buzzwords, and jargon can sabotage an otherwise pleasant customer experience in any industry, anywhere. However, in highly specialised fields like construction, you’re more vulnerable. Thousands of terminology that appear commonplace to builders, engineers, and contractors would bewilder the average person.
When engaging with a non-industry client, using construction industry lingo is problematic for two reasons:
- It obstructs clarity. Your client is less likely to comprehend the nuances of their project, and they may be too embarrassed to inquire. It can lead to significant issues later on if the results aren’t what they expected.
- It is impolite. Excessive construction jargon can appear deliberate, even if you’re doing it unintentionally as if you’re attempting to appear more informed than your client. You’ll probably come out as arrogant or uncaring.
3. Decide on a single point of contact.
One of the most aggravating things for a client is not knowing who to call when things go wrong. Do I call Gus the carpenter, Mandy the general contractor, John the plumber, or the moustache guy with the clipboard because the floors are leaking?
The internal chain of command is usually in your contract, and all teams must perform adequately. Overlooked is that your client may not be aware of this hierarchy, particularly if they haven’t read the fine print.
It isn’t merely a matter of convenience. When your client has a single point of contact, they’re more inclined to believe everything is running well (even if there’s hidden internal mayhem!). It makes it easier to maintain consistency in your communications and reduces the chances of misinterpretation.
4. Develop active listening skills.
Are you an attentive listener? The fundamental truth is that the vast majority of individuals are not. According to studies, we only remember 25 to 50 per cent. In some respects, technology has exacerbated this by simplifying our communication habits: how frequently do you exchange messages, emails, or emoticons instead of face-to-face conversations with Construction companies in West London.
Many professional organisations now provide training in ‘active listening’ after recognising the problem. Instead of letting your thoughts wander, active listening is when you genuinely focus on the speaker and process their message.
Here are some suggestions for active listening:
- Speed. Some people process information more slowly than others. Try to speak at the same speed as them if they’re a slow speaker.
- Mirroring. Match gestures and expressions subtly. Not in a creepy mime way, but just enough to demonstrate empathy and comprehension.
- Questioning. To clarify statements and demonstrate attentiveness, ask pertinent questions. Wait for a natural pause before interrupting.
- Make eye contact with the other person. It shows that you’re paying attention to the speaker and encouraging them.
- Reflection. Remember what was said and repeat. It demonstrates your comprehension or allows you to correct yourself.
5. Establish the engagement rules.
I’m not referring to some complicated military code (although I just watched Sicario, which was awesome). From a corporate perspective, I’m referring to the rules of engagement, which establish guidelines for effective communication and behaviour.
Why are rules necessary? Because every client has different communication requirements. You could be working on a makeover for a first-time buyer whose home is their pride and joy, and they’re biting their nails nervously.
You must establish this from the start, regardless of the sort of client, so that no one is disappointed. Here are some interesting points to consider:
- What is the frequency with which the client expects updates and reports?
- What communication methods will you employ?
- What information do you require from the client, and when do you need it?
- Who is the client’s primary point of contact?
- Is there a specific time of day when neither party wants to communicate?
6. Make use of visual aids
Your client is investing significant money to make their dream come true, and they want to know what they’re getting. Technology has met this requirement, and hand-drawn sketches and a few images will no longer suffice. Clients nowadays expect to see immersive 3D models of buildings that do not exist.
- Using images from your smartphone, Hover allows you to construct a 3D interactive representation of a place. Show your client how the renovations to their building will look in real-time.
- Multivista is an internet service that provides construction pictures and visual documentation. They provide construction projects with customised video, photo, and webcam solutions.
- Cadsoft is a leading provider of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software for residential building companies of all sizes.
7. Be open and honest.
The building looks fantastic, everything went off without a hitch, and communicating with clients was a joy. Then you hand them the bill, and their entire world crashes around them. Their cheeks flush, and their hands begin to tremble. A nasty surprise on a client’s account is bad news for them, even worse for you. It has the potential to ruin your company’s reputation in an instant for Construction companies in West London.