In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people that would work in an office will now be working remotely for an extended period of time. While many may already be familiar with remote work with at least 70% of people globally working remotely at least once a week (before the current circumstances), a lot of people may not be accustomed to spending this much time working away from the office. As a result of this distancing, many are in danger of feeling isolated and lonely. This time has the potential to put a strain on all our relationships, whether it's with people we're forced to stay away from or the people we're hunkering down with at home.
For those whose work has been pushed to a digital platform, relationships with clients are facing new challenges and opportunities. To ensure that separation from your business doesn't create separation within your business, here are some tips for building and maintaining your client relationships while quarantining and social distancing.
The pandemic has altered and delayed many projects and schedules suddenly. This has caused some organizations to have to scramble and adjust on the fly. Answering questions and rescheduling or adjusting plans will contribute to retaining a close relationship with your client. Availability, especially at a time like this, is critical to a successful client relationship.
Adjust Your Technology
The biggest adjustment that comes with teleworking is the "tele" side of things. Every aspect of work agendas has been pushed to advanced digital mediums, from sharing live documents to the dreaded video conference call. It's important that you have the equipment necessary to smoothly transition to this new method of working so that your relationship with your client doesn't experience any metaphorical or literal lag. Check with your company about their teleworking policy, and don't be afraid to ask for what you need in terms of assistance. By staying up to date, you lower the risks of technical difficulties with your client.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Even before normal communication was flipped on its head, being a self-sufficient professional required juggling a number of responsibilities. Now, with so much in flux, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. As stressed as you may be, it's essential to put on a brave face for your clients. Enthusiasm and confidence are enticing characteristics and will make you someone clients want to work with.
Be Open With Your Opinions
For your business relationship to work, your client needs to trust you as an expert. Agreeing with everything your client says and avoiding confrontation may work in the short term, but will be counterproductive in the long run. You may hinder your relationship with this client and potential others in the future. By keeping an open, honest dialogue, you and your client will get the best out of each other and prevent the building of an uncomfortable work relationship.
Maintain the Personal Touch in Your Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone's lives in some way. Try adding a friendly touch to your usual communications or check-ins. Maybe open up about your experience and how you've been handling social distancing and spending more time at home. If your client has kids, maybe ask them how they've been dealing with homeschooling, or perhaps suggest a show or game for entertainment. While you want to keep the professional nature of your relationship to your client in mind, remember that they are also a human and acknowledging that can go a long way.
Ultimately, what makes or breaks a client relationship is establishing a reputation as someone who delivers outstanding outcomes and results. During a time like this, it's critical to be reliable. Remember not to set unrealistic expectations or promise something you can't deliver. Set realistic expectations to allow yourself to please your customers and put yourself in a position to work with them in the future.