Keeping Client Relationships Strong in a Virtual World
No matter what industry you’re in or what size business you may be, building strong relationships with your clients is paramount to your success.
And although business travel may have more or less returned to normal, many companies may be dealing with budget cuts, leading to reduced business travel and face-to-face meetings. This means organizations have to find a way to keep client relationships strong in a hybrid work world, beyond just handshakes, office visits, or “let’s meet for lunch” options.
So, how can you adjust your approach and your interactions to embrace more screen time?
We talked to two of our own experts to find out.
Amplify the virtual connection
First, it’s important to recognize that virtual meetings are a part of the new way of doing business and can be a great way to engage in addition to – or in place of – in-person check-ins.
Offering that as an option to your clients can give you more opportunities to connect in a time-saving and lower-stakes way.
Turn on the camera
No matter how adamant you were about “audio only” conference calls in the past, now is the time to turn on the camera.
“You have the opportunity to connect with your client on a very personal level, to let them see a friendly face, your home office—your cat jumping in the background,” explained Elise Lapasin, strategic client success manager for SAP Concur.
Be aware of body language and social clues
Another good reason to use your camera is to be able to read the body language of the person you’re speaking with.
“I think we’ve all been on a call with someone who, after 20 minutes, starts checking emails on a second monitor or phone. At that point, you know you’ve lost them,” explained Alexandra Schwenke, strategic client success manager for SAP Concur. “Just realize that ... the best thing you can do for them is to wrap up the call.”
How personal you get and how fast you get down to business has to be totally client driven.
“If that client is having a difficult day, or looks tired or distracted, offer to reschedule the call,” Lapasin said. “You want to make a personal connection, but how personal you get depends on each individual client. So, you have to be aware of them and how they want to interact that day, not on your own agenda.”
And, if you have clients that see that your camera is on and never turn on theirs, they’ve sent a clear message that they want you to keep the call short and strictly focused on business.
Recognize the opportunity to make a true human connection with your clients
Meeting with someone virtually in a conference room or office setting is nothing new. But interacting with someone in his or her home environment provides a unique look into the whole person—not just their work personas.
In many ways, this experience could make your business relationships stronger.
It sounds so simple, but that’s the thing that all of us are going to remember. Those moments of human kindness as we all try to keep life and business going in a changing world.