Irrespective of your business operations, whether remote or in office, you have to maintain customer relationships for business longevity.
The ravaging coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed dynamics in the workplace. Whereas most people enjoyed working from the town office in the past, a growing number now either work from home or have plans for the same. According to some studies, about 21% of the total workforce will be working remotely by 2025.
The good news is that remote work comes with multiple benefits. Compared to working from the office, remote workers are more productive and enjoy a better work-life balance. Remote workers also spend less on the commute, thus have more money in their pockets at the end of the month.
Unfortunately, though, remote work comes with a few downsides, the biggest of which is maintaining customer relationships. This is especially true for service providers such as accountants and marketers and project team leaders, such as software project heads.
Things are pretty straightforward when working in the office. If a client wants to see you, they can pop in or book an appointment. You also meet your team face-to-face daily. Thus, communication barriers are less pronounced. If a team member is slacking, you can see it right away and call them in to put things right.
How can you keep the conversations going and keep your team on toes to meet project deadlines when working from home? How do you know how to maintain and even strengthen client relationships when you can’t meet them in person?
Although it takes significant effort a complete mind shift, you can still get the job done and maintain healthy client relationships even after shifting to remote work. The following are four ways how.
One of the basic requirements in sales is establishing trust. If you can achieve a certain level of trust, you may not even have to worry about keeping the client. Why? Because a client who trusts you is a loyal customer. They’ll stick with your company whether you’re working from the office or remotely.
The first step to achieving trust when working from home is to ensure complete transparency. Make sure the client(s) are up to date on the status of your organization and your plans for the coming months. For instance, don’t go remote without their knowledge. Instead, give them a heads up and reassure them that your commitment to their projects will remain as before.
Keeping clients in the loop makes them feel like part of the family and draws them even closer to the brand. It also helps quell any fears that they may have about project timelines. This can help increase customer satisfaction and benefit your relationship with the customers in the short and long term.
Another critical consideration when you want to maintain customer relationships while working remotely is mastering the art of personalization. Personalization simply means making your transactions appealing to each client at a personal level. It means creating experiences that satisfy the client’s personal needs. Specifically, you need to personalize your communication to bring the client closer and strengthen the bond between you two.
A few ways to personalize your communication include calling your customers by name, asking about their family, and taking time to understand their likes and dislikes. For instance, instead of starting your emails with “Dear Sir/Madam,” learn the client’s name and begin with “Dear Eric” if the client’s name is Eric or “Dear Jael” if she’s Jael. We all have an ego and someone calling us with our names is good for our egos.
Don’t stop there, though. When speaking to clients on the phone or live chat, spare the first few seconds to ask about how they and their families are doing. Ideally, you want to find out the names of their spouse and kids and ask about them. “How’s Dan and Molly?” you may ask, for example. Personalized communication builds lasting bonds.
A common mistake among team leaders or even service providers is talking too much without listening – or listening passively. You must avoid both if you want to maintain customer relationships while working from home. First, must learn to listen. Speak when it’s your turn and listen when the other person is speaking. Secondly, and more importantly, learn to listen actively.
Active listening is when you listen while actively participating in the other person’s speech without interrupting them. This way, the other party feels that their contributions are appreciated and taken seriously. For instance, in face-to-face communication, you need to maintain eye contact, so the other party knows you’re listening.
Although you can’t maintain eye contact when communicating remotely, there are still many things you can do to show that you’re listening actively. For instance, summarize what the client just said after they’re finished speaking. Also, confirm that your summary is current and ask relevant follow-up questions to better understand the client’s points.
Finally, implementing customer relationship management (CRM) tools can also help you maintain customer relationships while working remotely. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are special software programs designed to help businesses track, organize, and improve customer relationships.
They provide businesses with critical data that can help you evaluate your relationships and highlight areas of weakness so you can take necessary action to restore and enhance your relationships. By keeping everything organized, they allow you to stay on top of all emerging issues to avoid potential problems with your customers.
For example, CRMs allow businesses to track every customer action. You can even map the entire customer journey to determine potential roadblocks and gaps, then use insight from the data collected to improve the overall customer experience. Studies show that businesses that implement CRMs stand to increase customer retention by up to 27%. Some of the best CRMs are Salesforce, Sugar, and Zoho.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you intend to go work from home, take steps to maintain customer relationships even while working remotely.