By Kailynn Bowling, Co-Founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
Customer relationships are the foundation of any B2B business. But in a world where your customers are an email away, it becomes increasingly difficult to build customer relationships in a remote environment.
While it’s easy to warm up your customer relationships in person, how do you deal with these relationships remotely?
Consider this: 70% of consumer purchases are influenced by how valued customers feel. That means investing in positive customer relationships can have a tangible impact on your customer retention and revenue.
You want long-term success and you need your customers for the ride. But if you do all your work remotely, you need to build positive relationships on purpose. If you’re struggling to build positive customer relationships in the age of remote work, try these five tips.
1. Get to know your customers as people.
Sure, this is business, but it doesn’t mean your customer interactions should be just about work! Get to know your customers as people and ask questions like:
• What country (or world) do they live in?
• What are their hobbies?
• Do they have children?
• Do they have pets?
• What did they do last weekend?
You don’t have to interrogate them for half an hour every time you run into each other. A casual question before you get started will do wonders for building customer relationships.
Because asking questions can increase your sympathy, this can deepen your customer relationships while building your social capital. Translation: Your customers will love you!
2. Agree on a shared tech stack.
Misunderstandings can lead to a lot of frustration and negativity in customer relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to align with your customers, especially regarding how you communicate and work with each other.
Agree on a shared tech stack when you work with a client. For example, if you normally do Zoom meetings, but the customer only does Google Meet, you’ll need to adjust how you make video calls. It can be tedious to add another platform to your tech stack, but you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to contact you!
3. Squeeze in a little face time.
If you’re trying to build warm, positive relationships with your customers, make sure you show your face! People rely on facial expressions to interact with each other (and science backs this up).
Get some facetime with your customers by:
• Turn on your camera during video chats
• Meet in person once a year, if possible
• Add an up-to-date headshot to your email signature or Slack
• Record videos with Vidyard [[relationship?]] instead of sending long emails
4. Set clear, documented expectations.
Remember that misunderstandings and confusion can create tensions in your customer relationships. You want to minimize that as much as possible, so create clear, documented expectations with each customer.
It’s also important to keep in mind that building relationships with customers isn’t just about one-on-one interactions. You need to think about the whole experience of working with them – from the moment they contact you until you complete their project.
To do that, I recommend:
• Agreements about your working hours and general availability
• Having a written, signed contract for each client
• Set clear deadlines with dates and times
• Connect your workflow to a project management tool, such as Asana [[relationship?]]that keeps track of who is responsible for what
5. Keep records.
Nothing is more frustrating than a “he said, she said” scenario with your customers. To foster positive relationships, it’s a good idea to keep a record of every customer relationship.
The good news is that you can document just about anything thanks to remote working! Keep records of:
• Video chats (with customer permission, of course)
The best way to do this is to get a customer relationship management platform to automatically capture all your customer interactions in one place. It’s much better than digging through your email looking for a customer’s contact information.
Tracking is great for customer relationships because it also helps you personalize each relationship. Instead of wondering which customers are ready for renewal, your CRM can automatically alert you. It is the best way to have a positive, long-term relationship with every customer.
Relationships cost a lot of time and attention, and customer relationships are no exception. Working remotely can be more efficient, but it does mean you need to be more mindful about creating positive relationships with your customers. Follow these five tips to maintain great customer relationships, even when you’re working remotely.