By Laura Schreiber & Voice123’s The Booth
This article is sponsored by Voice123.
You nailed the audition! Your voice is exactly what the client wanted and it’s that project you had a special feeling about. Now comes the difficult part; maintaining successful client communications throughout each stage of the project.
It might seem easy since you already landed the job, but keep in mind that clients need to see value to continue the relationship or work with you again in the future. So when working with clients, whether it’s an audition, a direct booking, a booking from an audition, or a repeat client, you only have one chance to get that first communication right! When they reach out to you, it is up to you as the voice talent, to set the tone for how the communications will go. A warm, friendly, helpful response goes a long way in every scenario and helps to build the foundation for a great talent-client relationship.
Do your best to make them happy every single time!
Common miscommunications when working with clients
Miscommunication issues can take many shapes and forms. Messages can be taken out of context by cultural differences and delays can creep in if both parties are in a different time zone.
I have worked with international clients and had some miscommunication issues, so often the more information that you can spell out at the start of work, the easier it is for everyone.
Worse-case scenarios: A client gets offended, gets the wrong impression, or pulls out of the project. Or a voice actor could jump the gun, miss a deadline, or drop the ball altogether by missing an important project requirement.
How can these negative situations be avoided?
From the first communication with a client, it is best to understand the intentions behind the project. If you can, ask questions about the tone of the project and specifically what they are looking for. Knowing the answers to these and other vital questions in advance of doing the work leads to successful client communications and also confirms that a booking is a booking.
To help you with this, here’s a checklist of vital points that you need to go through beforehand.
- Ask the client if they have a scratch track.
- Ask if they know what music they are going to use. (This helps me understand the tone and the pace of the voice over.)
- Confirm the file format. WAV, MP3, or both?
- Confirm if the client needs raw or edited audio.
- Confirm whom, where and when to invoice.
- Confirm your service agreement, payment, and revisions policy.
A key takeaway for clients, in this case, is to contribute to a faster process by responding in a timely manner, being transparent about project details, and keeping a voice actor in the loop regarding any changes or delays.
How to manage client expectations
In general, all back and forth client communications should be prompt. If you are replying to an audition request, it is to your advantage to submit on the early side. Personally, as soon as I get an audition that looks appealing, I try to submit it. If you can be in the first ten submissions, that is ideal. Sometimes it is hard because of differences in time zones, or the demands of another project, but early submission is the key to getting booked. Once the client hears what they need, they will cast the job. They also would rather work with a talent who is responsive.
When replying to emails, whether for an audition or for a booking, being available makes you easy to work with. If you reply quickly and are transparent in your business practices, you are far more likely to gain a client. Timing matters. If a client has a deadline, you do not want to be the reason why they have to push their deadline. Instead, make it easy for them to get what they need by both responding promptly and submitting promptly.
Make all replies personal so that the client feels heard. Be sure to respond to all of their asks in your email and cover all bases. This also includes your turnaround time, pickup/revision policy, and payment terms.
Do’s and Don’ts for setting the right expectations
- Don’t feel shy or afraid to outline your terms. Clear and transparent client communications benefit everyone.
- Do find out the client’s intentions behind the project. Are they trying to increase sales, or drive more traffic to their website? And what is their target audience?
- Do ask about the tone of the project. Often, the client has a specific sound; a voice in their head that they’re trying to match. Asking for an example such as a celebrity, similar sound, or even one of your samples could point you in the right direction.
But how does this translate into a written message when working with clients? Here are some specific templates that can be copied and tweaked to suit your needs.
Template 1: If you missed a client’s message
I am so sorry for the delay!
I had to ________, but I am definitely available now. I always aim for professional and fast communication so I really apologize for this.
If you’d still like to move forward with this, I’m more than happy to make it up to you by adding ____ free revisions instead of _____. And also willing to _________, as a gesture of good faith.
Let me know and once again, sincere apologies.
To sum things up, successful client communications are all about knowing what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Don’t leave anything to chance. Prepare your communications ahead of time, follow the right format and tone, and always follow the 3 Ps when working with clients:
Professional, Punctual, and Polite.