This article was based on episode #33: Tom Schwab’s Story on the importance of communication for client-management, which turned out to be a powerful lesson for both our audience & Our Beloved Host, Morgan Friedman. Please watch the complete episode here!
“Don’t try calming someone down. If they wanna be mad, let ’em vent. Let ’em be mad. Let them get it out of their system before you interrupt and try justifying yourself.” – Tom Schwab
Tom Schwab’s client horror story revolves around a challenging situation that arose due to a lack of clear communication and understanding of expectations between his company and a client. Tom’s company specializes in helping clients secure podcast interviews, with the ultimate goal of generating more leads and sales. In this particular case, the client had specific expectations about the results they wanted to achieve through these interviews.
Unfortunately, communication breakdowns and misunderstandings occurred between Tom’s team and the client. The team was not able to fully grasp the client’s expectations, and as a result, they were unable to deliver the desired outcomes. This led to significant disappointment and frustration on the client’s part, which in turn put a strain on the professional relationship between both parties. In the end, the situation escalated to a point where the client considered the entire experience a “horror story.”
Along those lines, the client failed to grasp how podcasts worked and questioned why there hasn’t been any growth on her end a few days after the podcast was recorded. It even came to a point when the client was disappointed about having only 10,000 episode downloads without understanding that she was successfully placed in a podcast that belonged to the top 5%. However, despite this challenging situation, Tom managed to turn things around but not without realizing five valuable lessons first.
First, he realized the need for overcommunication to ensure that all parties involved have a clear understanding of what is expected from them. This means not only discussing goals and expectations upfront but also maintaining an open line of communication throughout the project to address any issues or concerns as they arise.
Second, Tom recognized the importance of establishing expectations upfront and ensuring that both his team and the client were on the same page from the very beginning. By outlining the scope of work, deliverables, and timelines clearly, it would be easier to manage expectations and prevent misunderstandings from occurring in the future.
Third, Tom learned the value of having a well-defined communication hierarchy to address different levels of seriousness in a business relationship. This hierarchy ranges from the most casual and ephemeral forms of communication, like text messages, to more permanent and personal interactions, such as face-to-face meetings or video calls. By utilizing the appropriate communication medium for a given situation, it becomes easier to convey the intended message and maintain a strong professional relationship.
Fourth, Tom discovered the importance of conducting a risk analysis at the beginning of a project to build trust with the client. By identifying potential issues or problems that may arise during the course of the project and outlining the steps that will be taken to address them, both parties can work together more effectively to achieve their goals. This proactive approach not only establishes trust but also helps to ensure that the project runs smoothly and successfully.
Lastly, Tom’s client horror story highlighted the need for both parties to take responsibility for their roles in the project’s success. This means not only holding themselves accountable for their actions but also recognizing that the success of the project depends on a collaborative effort between the client and the service provider. By fostering a mindset of mutual responsibility and cooperation, it becomes more likely that both parties will work together to overcome challenges and achieve the desired outcomes.
Understand the importance of overcommunication and establishing expectations
With Tom’s recant, we learn that a key element contributing to the issue was the lack of proper communication and setting clear expectations. When working with clients, it is essential to establish a strong foundation by clarifying goals, objectives, and expectations from the beginning.
Overcommunication is the practice of sharing more information than may seem necessary to ensure that all parties are on the same page. In Schwab’s case, the lack of timely updates and sharing of relevant information led to a dissatisfied client who felt their expectations were unmet. To prevent such a situation, overcommunicating at every step of the process helps in reinforcing trust, demonstrating commitment to the project, and fostering a positive relationship with the client.
By implementing overcommunication, teams can ensure everyone is well-informed about project progress, potential risks, and decision-making; encourage clients to ask questions and raise concerns, allowing for quicker problem resolution; and avoid misunderstandings and costly mistakes due to miscommunication or missing information.
Setting clear expectations from the outset is crucial to manage client relationships successfully. In Tom’s story, the absence of well-defined expectations led to the client’s dissatisfaction with the results. When working with clients, discussing goals, objectives, and anticipated outcomes helps align both parties’ expectations and paves the way for a more productive collaboration. Eventually, Tom realized his mistake and said, “I didn’t educate the customer, and the more I thought about it, it’s like, the analogy that I could think in my mind was if I got cancer, the doctor gave me chemotherapy, and I come back two weeks later irate because my hair’s falling out. Well, if I’ve never had it before, if I wasn’t familiar with that, of course I’d be mad, right?”
To establish expectations effectively, consider initiating a transparent dialogue about what the client wants to achieve and what your team can deliver; clarifying the scope of work, timeline, and deliverables; addressing potential challenges and explain how they may impact the project; and regularly review and adjust expectations as necessary, keeping the client informed throughout.
By overcommunicating and establishing expectations, businesses can avoid pitfalls similar to Tom’s story. Embracing these practices not only strengthens client relationships but also builds trust and promotes long-term success. As we learn from this experience, the power of clear conversations cannot be underestimated in the pursuit of business excellence.
Follow the hierarchy of communication: from text messages to face-to-face conversations
At the bottom of the hierarchy, text messages are considered the least serious and least permanent form of communication. Due to their ephemeral nature, they might not be the most appropriate medium for crucial discussions or conveying significant updates to clients. In Schwab’s case, relying solely on text messages could have contributed to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, leading to the client’s dissatisfaction.
Emails offer a more permanent and traceable form of communication compared to text messages. They allow for more comprehensive discussions and record-keeping, which can be valuable in maintaining transparency and accountability.The story might have been different had there been a clearer paper trail of email communication detailing project expectations and progress.
Higher up the hierarchy, phone calls provide a more personal and immediate way to communicate with clients. Hearing someone’s voice adds an extra layer of connection and can facilitate more effective problem-solving. Timely phone calls could have helped clarify the situation and potentially prevented the client’s disappointment.
Video calls build on the benefits of phone calls by adding a visual element, allowing for even better communication and human connection. In the story, video calls could have played a role in more accurately conveying project updates, addressing concerns, and reinforcing trust between the parties involved.
At the top of the hierarchy, face-to-face conversations are the most personal and direct form of communication. In-person meetings can help establish rapport, build trust, and create a strong foundation for successful client relationships.
Utilize video tools like Loom for richer, more personalized communication
In the aftermath of Tom client horror story, an essential takeaway lies in the value of utilizing video tools such as Loom for richer, more personalized communication.
Loom is a video messaging tool that allows users to record themselves, their screens, or both simultaneously, and then share the recording through a simple URL. Loom could have facilitated seamless communication between Tom’s team and the client, making it easier to share project updates, discuss issues, or provide guidance in a more engaging manner.
Video messages can humanize communication, as they convey tone, body language, and facial expressions that might be lost in text or email. Likewise, creating and sharing a video message through Loom can be faster and more efficient than composing lengthy emails or scheduling phone calls.
Loom’s ability to capture both screen and camera recordings simultaneously enables users to provide visual aids and explanations alongside their verbal messages, and video messages created with Loom can help establish a sense of professionalism and competence. By delivering polished and well-thought-out video updates, you can instill greater confidence in your abilities, fostering a stronger working relationship with the client.
Understand the relativity of customer horror stories and their impact on service providers
Client horror stories can be highly subjective and may vary depending on individual perceptions. In Schwab’s case, the negative feedback from the client felt like a horror story because it challenged the reputation of his company and their commitment to delivering excellent service. For another service provider, the same situation might not have felt as severe. Recognizing the relativity of horror stories can help professionals maintain perspective and not be overwhelmed by the negative emotions that such experiences might evoke.
Client horror stories can impact service providers in various ways. In some cases, negative experiences may prompt introspection and inspire improvements in service quality, communication, and overall client satisfaction. In other situations, the emotional strain might lead to a decrease in motivation, lower self-esteem, or even the termination of a business relationship. The impact of these stories on service providers depends on their personality, resilience, and the specific circumstances involved.
One crucial aspect of dealing with client horror stories is extracting valuable lessons from these experiences. Schwab’s story teaches the importance of overcommunication, setting expectations, and utilizing effective communication tools like Loom.
When faced with client horror stories, it is essential for service providers to focus on building trust and resilience. This involves acknowledging the issue, taking responsibility for any mistakes, and demonstrating a commitment to resolving the problem. By doing so, service providers can show their clients that they are dedicated to providing the best possible service, even in the face of adversity.
Understanding and managing one’s emotions and empathizing with the client’s feelings are critical skills that can help navigate difficult situations more effectively. By developing emotional intelligence, service providers can better handle the impact of client horror stories and respond in a constructive manner.
Conduct a risk analysis to build trust and improve collaboration between clients and professionals
Conducting a risk analysis enables professionals to pinpoint potential problems and obstacles that might arise during the collaboration with clients. By doing so, they can address these issues proactively, as Tom suggests, listing the most common problems that may occur during a project or partnership. This upfront transparency helps manage clients’ expectations and allows both parties to prepare for potential challenges.
Sharing a risk analysis with clients can significantly improve trust and confidence in the professional-client relationship. When professionals present a risk analysis, they demonstrate their commitment to delivering successful results and ensuring that potential issues are managed efficiently. This openness builds trust, as clients can see that their service providers are dedicated to addressing potential problems before they escalate.
A thorough risk analysis helps foster a collaborative environment, as both clients and professionals are aware of the potential challenges and can work together to tackle them. This client horror story serves as a learning experience, teaching the importance of overcommunication, setting expectations, and conducting risk analysis. By analyzing previous projects and identifying potential problems, professionals can learn from past experiences and implement strategies to prevent similar issues in future collaborations.
Risk analysis should be an ongoing process, with professionals and clients continuously reviewing and updating it as the project or partnership progresses. This dynamic approach enables both parties to adapt to changing circumstances and address new challenges as they emerge. Thus, make sure to maintain an open line of communication and work together to navigate potential risks.
We hope you learned a lot from this story and remember that every client horror story is valid!
This article was based on episode #33: Tom Schwab’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!