Over the years, especially in the year 2020, an unprecedented percentage of the global workforce started working remotely. While there are several key benefits of remote working including better work-life balance, and significant cost savings, it has presented the modern workforce with quite a few challenges.
One of the biggest challenges in having a remote team is to keep track of and manage client relationships effectively while dealing with the changes that present themselves when teams have to suddenly go remote.
If you have had to make the shift too, you are probably telling yourself that communicating with clients over emails, and calls is not as efficient as those face-to-face meetings, right? Well, not exactly. Did you know that remote workers can be 20-25% more productive than their colleagues who are working from the office? But that can happen only if you have a set roadmap to deal with the changes that happen with shifting to a remote working environment.
Even then, 88% of corporate employees state that remote teams are essential to improving their productivity. But there is no denying that handling clients remotely can get challenging. Here are a few ways in which you can continue to maintain effective client relationships, as a remote worker:
Establish Communication Channels and Plan
One of the primary things that you want to take care of while dealing with clients remotely, is establishing concrete plans for communication. The two-way communication channel that you establish while dealing with clients face-to-face, should be replicated in the most efficient way through remote working strategies.
The primary communication channels followed by remote teams include emails, audio/video calls, and messaging, but it is important to discuss with the client and narrow down channels that are mutually preferable.
Along with the new communication channels, it is important to figure out a comprehensive communication plan to manage client relationships. This includes ironing out details that will make you aware of what your client will be pleased or discontented with. With this in mind, as a remote team, you should ensure that your clients know that they can trust you to be responsive and to create value for them.
Communicate Deadlines and Deliverables Clearly
In line with the crucial aspect discussed previously, communicating and managing the deadlines is important for teams that are operating remotely. Along with the deadlines, it is also imperative that the deliverables of the client are managed appropriately. One of the biggest problems that your client can face with a remote team is the ability to trust that all the work will be done as communicated and with the same quality that it would otherwise happen.
As a remote worker managing clients, you should assure the client that you would carry out the communication process as seamlessly as before, and other than the change in communication channels, the rest of the things will take place as per their expectations. You need to take proactive steps to earn trust from your client so that they are convinced about your commitment to fulfilling the expected deliverables. Of course, mishaps happen — a deliverable or two might get delayed but such an event should be communicated to the client in a timely manner.
Use Technology to Enable your Remote Team
The global COVID-19 pandemic is transforming how we manage a business. Presently most organizations are made to work from home for the unforeseeable future. One of the biggest challenges that companies are facing in terms of shifting to a remote working environment is not having the right tools and technical support to facilitate the transition. Even if you think that you can accomplish this without any additional help, some of the software and applications that are available now can actually help you save on time and resources down the road.
Implementing smart tools to replace manual effort for mundane tasks can help your team focus on more pressing tasks and processes. Task management tools such as Slack, and Trello can help you organize all your tasks in one place while facilitating collaboration and real-time communication with them.
In addition to such tools, Google Suite also provides a wide array of tools that you can use for managing remote teams as well as for client management. More importantly, it could be a great time to implement an effective CRM software like SuperOffice, that can help you manage clients along with scaling up your roster.
Keep training, learning, and unlearning
If you are a company that is dealing with the challenge of training your remote team members, know that you are not alone. Many companies that have had to suddenly shift to a remote working structure have struggled with the facilitation of training and learning within their teams. However, the challenging process should not dissuade you from trying to find unique and effective ways of knowledge sharing with your team.
Client-facing remote teams can often run into unique challenges which may require you to come up with additional guidance and creative solutions. There is a need for companies to adopt a uniform approach for training remote teams, but more importantly, remote workers need to feel the need to learn and unlearn things so that they can adapt to new policies, seamlessly. Equipping them with the right know-how to deal with the changes, and assisting them with the right tools can boost the process.
They say unlearning is just as important, if not more, as learning new things. Unlearning can help employees let go of preset notions, and manage the expectations of clients and the company effectively. More importantly, it can help them come to terms with a new normal — either temporarily or permanently.
A well-organized employee onboarding process is an efficient way to familiarize new workers with the people, processes and tech tools—such as video technology and collaboration platforms.
Maintaining client relationships can be challenging — remote or not, but an extra layer of care and diligence is required when you are trying to manage them remotely. With careful steps in the right direction and appropriate technological support, remote teams can perform just as well as they do, on-site. Moreover, the benefits of remote working can also be amplified by implementing the right approach to dealing with clients and managing them. Do take note, with the better use of tools and establishment, your remote team will be much more productive and happier.
About the Author
Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing. He likes sharing his knowledge in a wide range of domains ranging from eCommerce, startups, social media marketing to human capital management and much more. His work is featured in several authoritative business publications.