How do you build long-lasting relationships with new clients remotely?
Over the past 15 weeks, businesses across the country have adapted to working remotely to protect the NHS and save lives. Despite the gradual lifting of restrictions in the UK, many organisations have been announcing plans to continue with remote working for the foreseeable future which means businesses will have to master how to build relationships with clients remotely. With working from home seemingly here to stay for a while longer, how do you continue to build strong, long-lasting connections with newly established clients without face-to-face contact?
In the absence of face-to-face interaction with new clients, it is vital to have a clear onboarding plan with realistic expectations for both parties from the outset. Ideally, this will be established via video conference with a clear agenda set out ahead of the meeting so that all participants are prepared. Roles and responsibilities should be discussed, and key milestones set so that everyone is clear on what will be delivered, who will be delivering it and when.
Being transparent and clear from the beginning will help foster an honest and open relationship, setting the foundations for a successful long-term future. Make it clear that you are open to feedback at any stage of the project, and ensure you take that feedback on board and implement any necessary changes.
Clear communications plan
Having a clear communications plan is key to a good relationship. Work together during the onboarding process to create a structure that works for both of you. Let your client know the best ways to communicate with you and when and ask them to detail the same.
Schedule regular video calls, weekly if necessary, to update on progress and address any pain points or questions which may have arisen. Follow up any video calls with an email, recapping on what you understand to be the key takeaways. This ensures there is no room for confusion.
Make time for non-work related conversation too. Spend some time getting to know your client in order to build a genuine connection. The fact you may be communicating from home, enhances the human element of the relationship.
There are a variety of online collaboration tools to make remote working easier. Project management tools can be used to maintain discussion boards, to-do list and project timelines, whilst collaboration solutions like Microsoft Teams can be used for collectively working on documents, improving team cohesion or ideas storming using virtual whiteboards. In fact, Teams effectively replaces a formal working environment with all the tools needed to operate remotely.
Be an expert
Trust is a key element for building a strong relationship. By demonstrating your expertise and broad industry knowledge, you begin to build a valuable level of trust. Become an ongoing reliable source of information that your client can learn from and ask questions of. For example, send them interesting and relevant articles and content that you genuinely believe will be valuable to them. Offering to connect them to others in your network who have similar pain points, is also an effective way of building trust, relationships, and ultimately a good company reputation.
Building a network of contacts without face to face contact can be tough, but with the right plan, processes and tools in place from the outset, your relationships can grow and develop to be just as successful as your existing client relationships.
To discuss any of these considerations in more detail or for advice on how to build relationships with clients from home, please get in touch.