4 Essential Strategies for Working with Remote Clients
Working remotely with clients has gotten infinitely easier over the last 25 years. Computer technology, video conferencing, and real-time data have made workflow between cities and even countries commonplace in the last two decades.
That said, working remotely still has its inherent difficulties, and a proper game plan must be in place to work cohesively and successfully. Here are four essential strategies for working with remote clients.
1. Establish great communication protocols starting with a kick-off meeting encompassing:
- Your client’s communication preferences – does your client prefer email? Phone calls? Texts?
- Establish a back-up person to the key account manager – ensuring that there is a resource if you are not available for your client
- Do your homework – do you know your client’s industry? Does your team? Do you have a full discovery document completed to ensure that you are all on the same page on the history and needs of the client?
- Create a project plan with action items for all responsible parties (use a project management online platform to help manage timelines and deliverables)
- Establish roles and responsibilities on both sides of the relationship – and set clear expectations of the deliverables associated with your project plan
- Create a share drive enabling you to provide access to files needed to complete and manage the work
- Set up standing internal and external meetings – to make sure that projects are moving forward
2. Monitor your progress after the first month and again after the first quarter
- Provide a report of your accomplishments – present it formally in a meeting closing with any outstanding work assignments including a review of the updated project plan
- Ask how you are doing. Not only the work but how you are presenting the work. Is there anything missing? Is there anything you could be doing better?
- Conduct this evaluation regularly. All relationships take work. If you don’t monitor your efficacy, you are likely to run into issues or roadblocks in the future.
3. After the initial work has been instituted, can you scale back your regularly scheduled meetings?
- In the interest of time, perhaps meetings can be scheduled monthly vs. bi-weekly or weekly
- Possibly provide a dashboard accessible to the client that he/she can access ad hoc remotely? That way you are all saving time (and money)
4. Invest in in-person meetings when possible:
- At a key juncture – schedule in-person meetings. Did you know only 7% of what you intend to communicate by words in written communication (letter, emails or texts) gets across? And only 38% by the tone of your voice via phone calls or voicemail. In person, 55% of what you say is communicated by your body language. Think of how much you are missing if you are not taking advantage of in-person meetings when you can. Your communication escalates incredibly when done in person—both sides get a better understanding of the words, the tone, and the body language. 100% communication!
- An option instead of an in-person meeting is a video conference–whereby you share your desktop and can see and engage with one another during meetings.