4 Non-Negotiable Client Communication Skills All Coaches Need

client communication

Have you ever considered how pivotal client communication is to your life coaching business?

After honing your skills and mastering the most effective techniques and strategies to help people tackle their issues, you can demonstrate your expertise by getting clients onboard and keeping them engaged.

The truth is, client communication can make or break your success as a life coach. It’s not just about what you say; it’s also about how you say it.

And it’s also about how you fully see and hear your clients.

Keep reading to discover:

  • What is client communication?
  • Why is client communication important?
  • The most important client communication skills
  • Client communication best practices

What is Client Communication?

Client communication is a term that appears often in online coaching. So, what does client communication entail, exactly?

At its core, client communication is about interaction. But it’s more than just talking or sending messages back and forth.

The first step is getting your thoughts, ideas, and strategies across clearly and concisely. But it also involves listening to your client’s needs, concerns, or feedback with empathy and understanding.

Communicating with clients effectively is crucial to run a successful coaching business.

Your aim should not only be communicating effectively but also fostering a strong connection with each client through open dialogue. Open dialogue sows the seed for trust, which strengthens the overall relationship over time.

And that coach-to-client relationship is one of the most vital ingredients when it comes to achieving massive results for your client.

Different forms of client communication

In the past, coaches and their clients mainly communicated by email, text, phone, or in person. But now you’ll find endless forms of client communication.

Some of these include:

  • Email – Efficient for formal communications such as contracts or important updates on a client’s progress;
  • Social media chatting / text – Allows casual interactions and quick check-ins;
  • Voice calls / video chats – Personal touchpoints ideal for one-on-one sessions;
  • Voxer or similar voice chat – Provides a way to share feedback and thoughts on the go, especially for those who express themselves better verbally than via the written word;
  • Text channel – Tools like Discord and Slack provide a more organized way to channel client communication, either for groups or individual clients;
  • Group forums – Facebook groups, dedicated platforms like Skool, and similar social platforms allow for members of a group coaching program to interact with one another in addition to getting support from their coach.

Make sure you choose methods that suit both you and your client. The communication channel should also fit the number of people you’re coaching – for instance, it makes little sense to have a group forum for one-on-one coaching clients. Neither does it make sense to create a dedicated Slack channel if you’re not offering one-on-one support in between coaching sessions. 

Why is Client Communication Important?

So, what is the importance of client communication? I’m not exaggerating when I saw that bad communication with your clients can make your entire coaching business fall apart.

By providing a bridge between you and your clients, effective communication enables a fluid exchange of information.

But why else does it matter so much?

First off, it facilitates better understanding, both for you and your clients. By engaging in frequent dialogue with your clients, you can gain insight into their requirements and expectations. This, in turn, will enable you to customize services that meet their needs.

It’ll also help you adapt to what you’re doing as you move forward in the engagement.

The second role of effective client communication is building rapport and trust. Regular interaction fosters trust and builds rapport as you and your client get to know and understand each other. 

When clients feel heard and understood, they are more likely to stick around for long-term coaching relationships! 

They’ll also pay more for your coaching packages. According to a study by Genesys, one in three clients is willing to pay more if they can also receive a higher level of service in exchange.

client communication

Finally, strong communication skills can help you serve your coaching clients on a deeper level. For instance, you can understand what they’re struggling with if you’re able to actively listen as well as understand their body language. 

And keeping a pulse on what’s going on with your clients helps you prevent issues down the line. A small roadblock happening now could snowball into a bigger issue later, but it’s much easier to overcome if your great communication skills manage to uncover it right away.

For example, let’s say I’m talking to one of my email coaching clients. By actively listening to them, I pick up on something they’re not saying outright – they seem to be fearful of sending out emails to their subscribers at all. 

By picking that up, I can ask them how they’re feeling about sending out their first email. Once I uncover that fear, we can work on it together so that it doesn’t stop them from taking action later.

The Most Important Client Communication Skills

client communication

Now you understand why it’s so important to communicate with your coaching clients in an effective way. 

But client communication will be an uphill battle if you don’t have the right skills to do so. 

Let’s go over how to improve client communication via specific skills you can develop.

1. Empathy

I put empathy at the top of the list because it’s virtually impossible to be a good coach and a good communicator without it.

Empathy helps you put yourself in the shoes of your coaching clients. It helps you imagine what they’re going through.

This superpower allows you to see the full picture, even if they’re not telling you everything right away. You’re not just listening to their words – you’re feeling what they’re going through and seeing things pop out of blind spots. 

What’s more, empathy allows you to hold space for your client when it’s time to do so. After all, having a conversation with a coaching client isn’t just about speaking back and forth – it also involves pausing at the right moments, being a cheerleader at the right times, and being able to take cues to understand how to move the conversation forward.

2. Patience

No matter what your coaching niche is, you’re an expert in something. This could be parenting toddlers, giving epic keynote speeches, or winning bodybuilding competitions.

But being an expert at something alone doesn’t make you a good coach for that niche. You must also show patience for those who are not where you are yet.

Perhaps you learned the ropes of your topic expertise really easily. But keep in mind that it can take a long time for a client to “get” it. We all have different strengths.

For example, I’ve been working with sales coaches for a long time. And it takes patience to be a sales coach for me because sales don’t come naturally to me at all. It takes tons of repetition, reassurance, and reinforcement for me to progress. 

In reality, patience goes hand in hand with empathy. Having empathy allows you to understand and feel what your clients need… and patience gives you the ability to provide them with what they need.

See the difference?

3. An open mind

You’ll meet plenty of people on your coaching journey. And while you may have your specific approach to helping clients achieve their goals, you’ll also need to keep an open mind when communicating with them.

First of all, you never know what you may learn! But keeping an open mind also allows you to listen fully and not just for what you expect to hear.

Remember that your clients don’t need your judgment, which plays a part with open minds. They’re hiring you to help them, not judge them. So forget what you know and let your clients surprise you.

4. Tact

The importance of tact will depend on your coaching niche. But you can bet that the more sensitive topics you deal with, the more tact you must develop to communicate effectively with your clients.

You can imagine that topics like divorce, self-image, anxiety, and depression require you to be careful with your words. 

Of course, I understand that many coaches take the approach of brutal honesty. But even in these cases, some moments will require tact. So it’s a good skill to develop, no matter what your coaching style is like – because you may just need it someday. 

Client Communication Best Practices

Now, you’ve seen some skills and gone through some client communication examples.

But developing effective communication skills is only one part of the equation to communicate with your coaching clients. You also have to implement these skills in a way that fosters trust and transformation.

Here are some client communication tips to level up those skills in an online coaching environment:

1. Ace your tech game

Harnessing technology can significantly transform how you manage client communication.

It can be the difference between being on top of every single client and keeping up with everyone…

… and letting important emails and reminders slip through the cracks.

After all, people receive an average of 121 emails per day – so it’s easy to lose important client communication in there!

And you don’t have to go super fancy with your client communication software. For example, Paperbell gives you an easy-to-use platform that manages scheduling intricacies, payment processes, and other communication details like client surveys and appointment reminders.

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This not only simplifies communications but also allows you more time to focus on delivering value-packed sessions with clients.

2. Learn how to communicate your coaching process clearly

Clients appreciate clarity. The last thing they want is to jump off a coaching call more confused than they were before speaking with you. 

That’s why it’s so important to get super clear on your signature coaching process. Not only will it help you sell it more effectively and land more coaching clients, but you’ll also be able to communicate much more effectively with each one! 

Take the time you need to iron out the kinks in the way you walk through the entire coaching process with your clients. And don’t rely on your own perspective – ask other people if your coaching makes sense.

You can offer to coach a friend or family member for free (as long as they have the background to understand your niche) and survey them on the clarity. But you should also survey your paying clients throughout your entire engagement with them.

For instance, you can send a survey after each coaching session – and with Paperbell, you can automate this process once and never have to think about it again!

As you receive more feedback, you’ll be able to refine the way you coach people and explain yourself. 

3. Prioritize active listening

We covered the importance of active listening when discussing empathy and having an open mind in the list of communication skills. That’s because it’s one of the most powerful client communication tools you have as a coach.

That’s why it’s always a best practice to remember and “activate” your active listening skills during any client interactions. 

Make sure to minimize distractions during your coaching sessions. For example, you can turn off notifications from apps you’re not directly using with your current client. 

It’s also a good practice to repeat things back to your clients to make sure you’re correctly hearing them. And I don’t just mean hearing the words coming out of their mouth – but hearing everything they’re saying.

You can phrase this as:

“So what I’m hearing is that….”

By actively listening, you’ll hear details that they may be leaving out of their words. These details may be at the core of what’s holding them back.

4. Schedule regular check-ins

It’s your responsibility as the coach to be proactive with communication. As such, I suggest scheduling regular check-ins with your clients so that they don’t have to remember to check in with you.

Of course, this depends on the level of support they’ve paid for. It won’t make sense to schedule 10-minute one-on-one check-ins if you’re not offering that for certain packages. However, you could check-in via text once or twice a week to see if your client has any roadblocks or concerns before your next session.

You can either schedule these check-ins directly with your clients or put them on your personal calendar to remind you to check in. Either way, you’ll keep communication at the forefront of your business and continually upkeep client trust!

5. Maintain professionalism at all times

Although it can sometimes feel like you’re becoming best friends with your clients, it’s important to remain professional. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. But it does mean drawing a line where it makes sense.

Here’s what I mean – let’s say your expertise lies in relationship coaching. But a client starts talking to you about a big move they want to make in their career. 

While you can provide guidance on how this big move will impact their relationship, it wouldn’t be professional to give career advice directly – unless you have training and expertise as a career coach. 

If you want to provide your thoughts and opinions about their career, make sure you do so “off the record,” and make sure you make that abundantly clear. You can let your client know you’re telling them something “as your friend, not as your coach.” And that’s only appropriate if both of you have established that you’re friends in the first place.

It’s also up to you to maintain confidentiality. When clients confide in you, they’re giving you their utmost trust. Breaching that trust isn’t just bad communication – it’s bad business.

6. Check your tone

The words you say to your client may be intended one way. But your tone can change their effect entirely.

For instance, a grave tone can make it seem like you’re chastising when you actually want to empathize. And using a joking tone can make it easy to dismiss what you’re saying, even if it’s important.

Speak with intention – with your entire being. Use your tone as a tool. 

7. Establish clear boundaries

If your clients aren’t clear on your boundaries when it comes to communication, you can quickly erode trust.

For example, let’s say a client expected a 24-hour response time when, in reality, you offer 48-hour response times. They’ll think you went against your word. And you’ll think they’re wrong.

But if that wasn’t clearly communicated, they’re not necessarily wrong.

Spell out your boundaries in a way that’s clear enough for everyone to understand. This means using simple language that’s accessible to readers of all levels. 

Communicate Clearly With Every Coaching Client

Client communication isn’t just about talking; it’s about connecting.

You’ve discovered its significance and the pivotal role it plays in your coaching business.

We delved into best practices, exploring how clarity, empathy, and boundaries can transform your client relationships.

Remember that every message you send is a chance to reinforce trust and build stronger bonds with your clients. This, in turn, can help you get better referrals and long-term clients!

Need help streamlining the admin side of your coaching business and keeping track of client communication? With Paperbell, running a coaching business online has never been easier! Try it for yourself by claiming your free account.

client communication
By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
September 15, 2023

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