We've all been there; things are going great, you and your client (or teammate, prospect, colleague at another company, etc.) are on the same page, having regular calls and getting tasks completed.
Then, out of nowhere -- the dreaded white noise. Your client is not responding and you need their response before you can finalize projects on your end.
So you do what anyone in client service would do and send a follow up email. Nothing. You send another. Nothing. You give them a call. They apologize and say that they'll review your messages right away. But still nothing. So you email again. Nothing.
As frustrating as this is, one thing you can take comfort in is that you are not alone. Many professionals struggle with the very same issues more often than you might think.
Your clients and colleagues are busy, often running large departments, teams, or even entire companies. They’ve likely got unhappy, unresponsive clients of their own to worry about and, to be quite honest, you are not always their main priority.
In client service, it's your job to make your client's needs are your main priority and one of the best ways to do so is to put yourself in their shoes. It will help you better understand and thus strategize getting what you need from your clients in a timely manner.
2. Communicate Clearly
Make sure that your client or colleague understands what you need them to do and why it’s important.
If they hit a roadblock and don’t know what you need from them or simply don't understand what it is that they are supposed to do, chances are they will be delayed in their response or won’t respond at all.
The best thing to do is to clearly identify what exactly you need your client to do, the outcome, and the consequences in the opening line of your email.
3. Be Proactive
This doesn't mean you should stalk your client; that will delay their response even more.
You simply want to be consistent in your communication and to be pleasantly persistent.
At the very least, try to get your client to commit to a next step. For example, if you have sent a proposal and you haven't heard back, perhaps ask to schedule a call with them to review it together.
If they are not responding to emails, take a break and then pick up the phone and give them a call or invite them to meet for coffee or lunch.
4. Agree on a Schedule and Have Structure
From the very start you should have a clear action plan and defined structure with your client. This should be something that you both agree on and at the very least should include:
Regular time slots with your client for calls or meetings
Agreed upon timelines for decisions
Clear definition of what type of communication your client prefers
Consequences of missed deadlines
Agreed upon plan in place for what happens if the client is unresponsive
These items are best to define at the beginning of your agreement, so that they are in place before any issues arise.
5. Always Send a Recap After Meetings
Often times during client meetings, multiple topics and questions are discussed. It is imperative that you take the responsibility of taking notes during the call and sending those notes out as a recap directly following the call. This allows you to ensure all aspects of the call were heard and understood and most importantly, allows you to highlight the action items for your client.
By taking these steps you will help ensure a better and more productive experience for both you and your client because at the end of the day you are here to make your client's experience the best it can possibly be.