Business lunches. Golf course negotiations. Client appreciation parties. In-person onboarding. Afterwork happy hours. Handshakes. A lot of client relationship-building best practices and traditions we once took for granted had been canceled or altered. We all have adapted to new normals during the pandemic. We were once able to strategize, persuade, celebrate, and congratulate in person. But now, we have been doing so in a virtual world.
How, then, do companies acquire and maintain strong client relationships when they aren’t able to meet and bond in person? This virtual world we are adapting to affords some creative opportunities to retain and even strengthen client relations. Here are three creative ways for your business to stay connected in this pandemic-altered virtual world.
“Don’t Hesitate to Call”
We’ve all said it, right? “If you need anything or have any questions, don’t hesitate to call.” While that phrase can be reassuring to your clients, the sentiment should also be used by your own sales team.
Your customer service team should never hesitate to call their clients to check in for a variety of reasons, or even no reason at all.
When a company has officially signed a contract with GUIDEcx, we make a celebratory phone call to their team. This casual, unscheduled call typically only lasts a few minutes, but it is a great way to welcome the company and team members into the GUIDEcx family. During that call, we like to reassure the team of our excitement and dedication to amazing customer service. Inevitably, this call is a calming reassurance that they have made a great decision to contract with us. “It introduces the implementation of the product on a very warm note,” says CEO Peter Ord. Dr. Kate Muir, a researcher at the University of Bath, adds,
We are driven towards rich communication. Humans are social animals and it’s vital to us that we remain in communication with one another. Our natural preference is for face-to-face communication as it gives us more cues as to what the other person is feeling and thinking, but as technology has developed, the number of these interactions has dropped. A phone call offers the nearest amount of information to a face-to-face interaction: we can hear when someone is smiling or frowning. You don’t get that on email or instant messenger. It’s easy to misinterpret a text message.
The results of our celebratory calls typically find the new client so excited for the thoughtfulness that they are ready to dive into the onboarding process right away.
Power Lunch Virtually
While the world is slowly starting to re-emerge from this pandemic, lunch appointments at restaurants are becoming possible again. However, not all companies have returned to their offices. Your clients might still be working remotely, making power lunches more difficult.
If that is the case, go ahead and host a virtual lunch with your clients. DoorDash a meal of their choice and schedule that Zoom meeting. Enjoy some casual conversation while you both enjoy your salad or pasta lunch.
“I think virtual lunches, especially right now, is a fantastic practice that people should explore,” says Erin Blaskie, the director of marketing at Fellow.app, in a Newsweek article. “Aside from the obvious professional benefits—continued networking, ability to learn from others—it’s a great social practice, too, and will help prevent social isolation and loneliness.”
Make Special Deliveries
Are you experiencing Zoom fatigue? Believe it or not, the syndrome does exist. And if you’re exhausted from all the Zooming, then your clients likely are as well. So instead of hopping onto yet another video conference call, try connecting with your client in another, old-fashioned way: mail deliveries. Just because we are moving towards a more virtual world doesn’t mean we have to abandon older, non-virtual methods.
Prior to the pandemic, you might have treated a new client to a celebratory dinner, a night at the theater, or an afternoon on the golf course. If that isn’t possible, try getting creative instead and send them something fun through the mail.
An array of products like a water bottle, a nice blanket, or even gourmet treats are ideal gifts that can be easily ordered and delivered. If you are looking for something more interactive, you can create a hybrid gift. For example, an online cooking class where the groceries are delivered to your clients before the video call for a fun, combined, culinary experience.
Even as our nation emerges from quarantine and relies less and less on masks and social distancing, the business world has been forever changed as the realities of a virtual work environment become more accepted and commonplace. Don’t let video conferencing and digital communications negatively impact your client relationships. Remember to jump on quick phone calls regularly, create virtual power lunches, and arrange for special deliveries.
Want to learn more about how to operate in the hybrid work world? Here’s how you can best manage your hybrid workforce.
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