It’s no surprise that things have changed since remote work became the norm after the 2020 pandemic. People had to rearrange their living space to accommodate their desk setup, make sure roommates or partners weren’t in the background during Zoom calls, and continuously manage new distractions they didn’t experience in the office (in my case, a very active Puggle).
What doesn’t have to change is how we manage our client relationships. If you’re looking for ways to make your clients feel special from afar, here are some tips:
Let your clients know they’re appreciated
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of managing accounts, but small gestures can go a long way. If your client had a recent promotion, have your company sign a congratulatory card or set up a Kudoboard. Or, have your team create some custom Zoom backgrounds for your client to use (these make for great holiday gifts as well). Even if you’re out and about and see a little something that you and your client have discussed, send them a picture of it or purchase it for them as a gift if your budget allows.
Offer a sense of normalcy
For larger presentations such as QBRs and new year planning, coordinate with your internal team to see who’s comfortable joining you in the office to present. Set up a conference room the same way you would if your client was there with you, and make sure the full team gets facetime with them. These presentations are also a great opportunity to gauge how your client feels about traveling to your company’s office, or you traveling to them. If this isn’t feasible, make sure you provide a sense of normalcy and remove the stigma around Zoom as a barrier to great relationships!
Virtually recreate the corridor conversation
Ever heard of corridor conversations? If not, they are quick catch ups that can be had when you are walking the halls in your client’s offices or your own HQ. These are easier to have when you’re in person, but if you don’t have that luxury, recreate them virtually. Set up regular 1:1s with your client where you drink coffee together and catch up on account status, business goals, etc. This helps keep the relationship personal and allows you to work as an extension of your client’s team. Extend this beyond just your day-to-day or single point of contact to enable that ‘corridor’ kind of catch up.
Be an extension of the team
Speaking of being an extension of your client’s team, be sure that you’re sitting in on stakeholder meetings so that you’re able to leverage your industry and brand knowledge and keep engagement in your client’s business high. If you’re not able to join these teams in person, check in with your client and ask if any big meetings are on the horizon that you could potentially fly-in for or join via Zoom. The closer we are to their business and marketing performance, the more empowered we become to make smart recommendations and influence results.
With the majority of work moving to the virtual world, make sure your research and studying stays the course as well. Carve out some time every week to do market research, check in on your clients’ competitors to see what they’re doing from a marketing, product, and business perspective, and read through news articles to see if there’s anything you can pick out that may be of interest to your clients. Even if there are no action items from an article, if it’s relevant and you think your client may be interested in the topic, share it! Remain top-of-mind while also reassuring your client that you’re still doing work behind the scenes.
Let your personality shine
When you’re face-to-face with a client, it’s easy to show your personality and connect on a deeper level. Over Zoom and email, it’s a bit more difficult — but it’s possible! Depending on your current relationship with your clients, don’t be afraid to attach a celebratory GIF to your email when a long project has been completed, or talk about big life events that are happening for you at the moment (in a professional way, of course). Remember to ask questions about your clients lives as well. Utilize the emoji and chat functions in your virtual conference rooms while also using eye contact and hand gestures in meetings.
Kicking off a weekly check-in call and getting straight to business can be mundane at times. To keep things lively, you can bring up something your client has told you, such as a trip they’re about to take, and ask what they’re most excited about. This also sets the tone for the rest of the meeting and will have everyone involved feel much more relaxed.
We get it, sometimes remote work can be tough, but maintaining those client relationships is imperative not only to your business, but also to your clients. Make sure they feel appreciated, make things seem as normal as possible, and loosen up while still remaining professional. Without good working relationships, work would feel more like…work. And it’s probably safe to say that nobody wants that.