Communication is important, especially in business. COVID-19 has shaken the working world as we know it. Due to the pandemic, businesses are struggling to maintain their relationships with clients. Conferences and meetings have been replaced by Zoom calls and emails. Clients and businesses are put in a precarious position as they try to navigate a new landscape: remote work. In these uncertain times, it’s a good idea to ask the experts how their businesses have changed since the pandemic.
We’ve put together some helpful tips that may improve your business relationships. We wanted to know how different types of businesses are addressing the new environment that COVID-19 has brought about, so we asked them questions like how has remote working changed your business? And how do you build strong client relationships through the online world? We hope these entrepreneurs’ answers will help you build even stronger relationships with your clients while working remotely.
Dale Johnson, co-founder & Content Strategist at Nomad Paradise, says that simply having conversations with clients – that aren’t about business – is actually helping to keep his business relationships strong. Right now, there is so much uncertainty, many business owners are feeling overwhelmed. Asking how clients are coping and just getting things off your chest are the first conversations you should be having.
Secondly, looking at ways to alter your business strategy to deal with the issues brought about by COVID-19 helps keep you proactive with your clients, rather than reactive. For example, Johnson shared that clients in sectors such as travel have seen drastic drops in traffic for their online businesses and services. However, in other sectors, businesses have seen surges in traffic due to more people being home and online. Hence, talking through with clients about ways they can tweak or alter their product/service and marketing to focus more on what that traffic is doing/searching for is invaluable for keeping your clients afloat. If you have a hospitality client, for example, talking through the steps to implement online/delivery would be massively helpful to them.
Doubling Down on Communication
Hirewell, a recruiting firm based in Chicago, has taken the approach of doubling down on their communication strategies. They have always strongly believed in content marketing and thought leadership, but as the situation changed they have doubled down. Some strategies they found to be well-received have been hosting webinars/live events to help educate companies on best practices for remote interviewing & hiring (something many companies may have no familiarity with), as well as providing content on new ways job seekers can ramp up and pivot their job searches.
Georgette Pascale, founder + CEO of Pascale Communications, shared a few key insights on effectively building and maintaining client relationships during the pandemic:
- Acknowledge what is happening in the world during COVID-19, but continue to deliver and communicate with clients like you always have. Everyone’s a little frightened with the uncertainty of the pandemic, but people need consistency and normalcy in a world that isn’t
- Don’t focus so much on making big plans for the future, but rather focus on connecting with your clients. Listening to their needs is key– pivot your strategy to not only meet their goals but to exceed their expectations
- Engage as much as possible – use working remotely as an opportunity to use video capabilities and actually talk to your clients. Get out there and be authentic.
Jacob J. Sapochnick, an immigration attorney and entrepreneur from Sapochnick Law Firm, agrees that COVID-19 has changed the way we all interact with our customers – we now have to interact digitally. What you need to do is over-communicate in these trying times. You need to establish your online presence because we are all now living in the digital world and it’s going to be the new normal.
It’s about being connected to your customers so it’s best to message them on what’s happening with your brand. The key thing is to never hesitate to communicate with them through any channel possible.”
Many business people are turning to different video conferencing platforms, like Zoom, to keep in touch with their clients these days.
One of the key ways 1o8 Agency has changed its approach to relationship management is by utilizing text messages. They are using texting to check-in, say hello, and stay in touch more often – in exchange for moments that would have been a quick coffee or in-person check-in. They have also added their clients to their Slack channels (as shared client channels) for rapid access, real-time conversations instead of formal emails, and of course, banter and friendly chats to stay in touch in moments that otherwise would have been happening at in-person meetings or phone calls.
Aalap Shah, founder of 1o8 Agency said,
It’s helped us keep in touch with clients on a day-to-day basis, and we may adopt these strategies (like having a client-facing Slack channel) after quarantine has passed and we return to our new normal”.
Going the Extra Mile
Bobby Reed, from Capitol Tech Solutions, has organized a new way to hold their annual conference. As the conference was cancelled this year the team decided to send each of their clients a bottle of wine, and schedule a remote happy hour.
We have three meetings a week via Zoom where we do a quick 15-minute presentation, and then spend the remaining 45 minutes just chatting and catching up, as if we were grabbing a drink after a conference meeting, at the local bar. Sometimes we chat about work items, and other times we just chat about personal topics. It has worked very well for us and puts us ahead of our competitors who aren’t communicating with the clients at this time in a face-to-face setting. Plus, our clients are looking for outlets from the quarantine, and they are excited to have something unique to do. Overall, it has been a successful strategy for our team, and has kept us top of mind for our existing clients.”
Arielle D’Adamo, a real estate agent in Manhattan who works for Compass is going the extra mile by taking advantage of all the digital activities. From virtual workout classes with clients, cooking classes, and even a FaceTime cocktail, she is going above and beyond to connect with others. She shared with us these tips:
I have also just forwarded these events when I see something that I think a client would be interested in which helps to show that you are paying attention and thinking of them. A few other things I have done are sending small gifts for birthdays and mother’s day cards! I will even send a funny tik tok video or Instagram meme at times!”.
Whether you run a fashion boutique or a travel business, it is important to go the extra mile to stay in touch with your clientele. Remote work poses unique problems for businesses. Employees must maintain online contact with their clients while physical distancing measures are in place. Those who stay in touch will benefit from their diligence. In these uncertain times, clients appreciate your support more than ever. COVID-19 has challenged the way that businesses communicate, but by helping one another, we can continue to thrive.