When it comes to making it as an animator, there are more than just art skills required.
Even if you’re the best animator in the business, you won’t find true success until you learn how to communicate properly with your animation clients. Many animators forget that this is a part of the sales process and is an important skill to have to grow your business.
Communicating well with your clients saves you (and them) from wasting time and making mistakes due to misunderstandings. Finessing this skill will help you stand out from other animators and will get you the repeat customers, referrals and testimonials of your dreams.
So how can you effectively communicate with your animation clients? These nine tips will help you get started.
1) Respond Quickly
Clients often purchase a product or service from the company that gives them attention first. Follow the 24-hour rule. If you receive an email or a phone call, you need to follow up within 24 hours.
According to blogger Jake Jorgovan, even if you can’t fully reply to a potential customer’s inquiry, try to send an email or message as soon as you can. If you really can’t answer questions right away, make sure you install a Facebook chatbot or a website live chat or automate your emails.
Responding quickly shows customers that you are a professional at what you do and genuinely care about meeting their needs.
2) Ask Customer-Centric Questions
Before working for any client, you should first understand the business or individual who is seeking out your service. Do your research and never make assumptions. Learn about the history, products and services, goals, mission, vision, and challenges of your potential client.
If you can’t get all the vital information from your initial chat, you can request their company profile, basic information, gather some research, and set more interviews.
This will give you an idea of how to approach your client and complete their project in a way that works for both of you. Doing your research will make the client feel valued and appreciated, which is always the goal!
Just paying attention to what your clients feel and think can be one of the biggest differentiators for you and your animation business.
3) Don’t Use Animation Jargon
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It is most likely that your customers don’t have as technical knowledge about the animation industry as you do. It is important to speak with your clients at a level that they will understand.
According to Motto, it is frustrating for clients when you talk about terms that they don’t understand. This can lead to issues down the line, such as a key misunderstanding about an expectation they had for the project. Talking about file formats, pixels, and key-framing can overwhelm your client.
Some of your clients will have questions about the process or timeline. If something is too complex to explain, think of analogies that will be easier to understand.
In some cases, they will create their own terms or phrases. Mirror the jargon they use to assure your client that you understand them well. Adapting your communication style to theirs will make your customer service stand out and let your customer know what you are doing and why.
4) Actively Listen
Aside from just doing all the talking and asking, you should also actively listen to your client. This is what makes a great conversationalist.
When your client is talking, make sure that you are really paying attention to what they say instead of thinking about your next meal. Even focusing on what you plan to say next is still a form of inattention.
Show your client that you are listening to them by nodding your head or paraphrasing what they said. This way, you will make sure that you understand your customer while also making a great impression on them.
Part of actively listening is keeping quiet when the customer is still talking. Do not interrupt them when they are in the middle of explaining their challenge or problem.
If they haven’t discussed your concern or question for them, be patient. You might interrupt your clients as they explain to you what you want to hear the moment you interrupt them.
5) Use Positive Statements
TechRepublic says using negative questions and words can confuse you and your clients. Speaking in the negative can come off as rude and make you look less able to handle the project.
“No”, “It’s not my job”, and “I don’t know” aren’t things your client wants to hear! Instead, you can say something better such as “I will find out”, “Normally we…”, “I will get back to you on...”.
Things will be clearer if you ask questions in a positive or open-ended way. Using positive words is a great way to cushion any disappointing news or lapses in judgement you don’t want your client dwelling on. Just make sure not to overdo it and still be truthful.
6) Regularly Ask for Feedback
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Ask your animation client for their thoughts and opinions about the video you are working on. It shows your client that you really care about their video as well as the input they contribute.
Talking with your client does not only happen at the beginning and end of a project, as Vandelay Design says. You can create a better-animated video by encouraging your client to give feedback. This will ensure that you and your client are on the same page.
7) Communicate Through Different Mediums
Every client has their preferred way to communicate. Although there are many ways of communicating nowadays, using traditional means of communication is still a good option. Mastering both written and verbal forms of communication will take you far.
If you are meeting with them face-to-face, pay attention to your appearance, maintain a positive your tone of voice, and keep your facial expressions and hand gestures neutral and non-distracting
You want to look presentable, approachable, and professional. Even if you’re having a bad day, make sure you seem happy and greet your client with a smile. No one wants to talk to or employ a grump!
Make eye contact with your clients and listen to them when they speak. Don’t use your phone or look somewhere else.
Also, don’t be afraid to show confidence when talking about your knowledge of animation. You should make your animation clients feel optimistic about what you can offer them and confident that you will be able to deliver what you promise.
Sending emails is a great way to keep track of conversations. As with any written form of communication be thoughtful with your choice of words.
Besides the actual words you use, make sure to arrange the words in a way that flows logically and prioritizes important information. Make important words bolded or underlined and use reasonable spacing throughout the whole email.
Double-check the grammar, spelling, sentence structure, subject, and email address you use before clicking the send button. Making spelling mistakes or forgetting attachments can make you seem less professional than you are.
To keep from wasting your or your client’s time, keep it short and get to the point. Your animation clients have other things to attend to and don’t stare at their computer screens the whole day. To make your emails easier to read, only give relevant information and create a list of bulleted questions.
Reply to your clients’ emails as soon as you can. If you know you’ll get preoccupied with work and might forget to reply to your customer’s emails, snooze your emails. This is a super-helpful tool for juggling many projects and high-traffic inboxes.
The snooze feature gives you an option to remind yourself of the email later in the day, tomorrow, a few days later, or next week. Bustle says emails will come up again in your inbox when you want them to, just like newly sent email.
Another way to use video is to have video calls with your clients. This is a great idea when your client is in another region or country.
Meeting in-person may still be preferable for some clients but, using video chat technology is an excellent way to collaborate and get specifics from your client.
Via Text Message
Synectics Media suggests that you only text a client when you need to talk about an urgent matter that can be summed up in a short message.. Remember to keep it professional by avoiding emojis and slang in your messages to clients.
Via Phone Call
Do you need to talk to your client about a complex idea? Having a phone call is still a great way to work through problems. If your client is from an older generation, they might prefer having a phone call over sending emails or texts.
When you talk to clients over the phone, good etiquette is to start with some small talk. Ask them how their day is going and show an interest in their lives and their business.
8) Build a Genuine Relationship
One of the best ways to move up the ladder in almost any field is to form genuine connections and relationships with others in your industry. Your clients are the perfect place to start!
Make sure to always be polite in your interactions with clients and to try to learn about your individual clients bit by bit. By doing this, you might earn yourself a spot at the client’s next happy hour, where you could meet many more potential clients.
Showing clients that you can be friendly and professional at the same time can remind them that you’re a human being just like them. This also sets you apart from other animators offering their animation services.
9) Show Appreciation
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At the end of the day, you have your clients to thank for your way of life. Let your client know that you appreciate them choosing your services by simply saying thanks. If possible, consider offering loyalty discounts or additional services for free to your best clients.
You can also send them a handwritten thank-you note or a thoughtful gift. It can be your business’ merchandise or something you know your clients would like based on how well you know them.
Another way you can show appreciation is by supporting your clients’ work. For example, if you made an animated video for a cafe, you can highlight their work or their company on your social media or website.
You can also refer people to your clients’ businesses. These simple displays of appreciation will make it more likely that your clients have nothing but great things to say about you and will become repeat customers.
Effectively communicating with your clients is one of the most important things you can do for your animation business. It may seem simple and not require anything financial, but it is a powerful way to gain and keep animation clients.
Effective communication strikes a balance between approachability and professionalism. Following these tips will help you build genuine relationships with your clients which will set you apart from other animators and grow your list of clients.