Building Trust and Brand Loyalty Virtually
The digital world has made it easier for businesses to build successful client relationships. However, doing so does not come without challenges.
The experience of the pandemic economy has shown it is no longer necessary to meet with clients ─ but this doesn’t mean clients no longer wish to feel connected to you. What are the keys to successful client relationships that build trust and loyalty to your brand?
1. Communicate How the Client Wishes to Communicate
Communication is the key to developing fruitful client relationships. Traditional communication channels of telephone and email are still relevant, but many people have become used to video calls, instant messengers, and even direct messaging through social media accounts. The secret is to learn which communication channel clients prefer individually, and then adapt your approach accordingly.
2. Don’t Sell, Talk
Previously, we have used communication channels like email to share product news and contracts. In the virtual world, it’s important to replace the face-to-face talking time that has been lost. Great relationships are built by understanding client problems and motivations, and by being personable. People deal with people, and great customer relations are maintained when there is a personal connection.
3. Keep Your Promises
There is little that is more infuriating to a client than a missed meeting or a promised follow-up call that doesn’t happen. If a promise is made to do something, then it must be done.
4. Be Positive Personally
Things go wrong. Mistakes happen. Products get delayed. It’s easy to hide behind technology in the digital world ─ to send an email rather than make a phone call or meet virtually.
If an error has occurred or a deadline won’t be hit, a positive and personable attitude will help to maintain a healthy client relationship. Don’t shy away from unwelcome news; instead be open, honest, and present a solution that turns a negative into a positive.
5. Be Patient
Meeting with new clients virtually is vastly different to meeting in person. There is no body language to help break the ice and develop trust. It’s also more exhausting to meet with someone online ─ eye contact is hard to maintain, for a start. (Tip: look into your camera, not at the screen!)
It’s much easier and more relaxed to have a long lunch with a client than it is to have a 30-minute video chat. So be patient, and schedule follow-up calls to build a virtual relationship.
6. Help Your Client With Their Technology
Your client may not be as tech savvy as you. When the client can’t share a screen or invite another into the conversation, be patient and talk them through the process. And if they still can’t do what is needed, then find another way to meet ─ via a conference call instead of a video call, for example.
7. Communicate Regularly
The virtual environment is not conducive to long meetings. Focusing on a screen is challenging on the eyes and on the brain. Instead of scheduling a single meeting in which it is planned to move through all matters on the table, hold a series of shorter, more frequent meetings ─ and then maintain a regular flow of catch-up meetings throughout the relationship with a client.
8. Meet In Person to Cement the Virtual Relationship
Though client meetings are increasingly conducted online ─ for many reasons that include cost and convenience ─ there really is nothing like a face-to-face meeting to make a personal connection.
9. Hire Virtual Virtuosos
The most crucial factor in developing client relationships virtually is the person doing the developing. Your business depends on hiring and retaining people who are virtual virtuosos, with the technical skills to make a difference to your business, and the soft skills to be the difference to your clients.
The digital age skill set includes:
- Being comfortable with all forms of digital communication
- Tech savvy, with the ability to explain technology in plain language
- Personable ─ a people person
- Great organizational and time management skills
- The ability to be positive and present negatives positively
- Patience and persistence
- As at ease in face-to-face meetings as they are in virtual sessions
Where do you find people with the hard, technical skills you need and the soft skills that will help you foster, maintain, and develop meaningful client relationships in the digital world?
In our next article, we discuss how to develop a talent pool in the virtual world. In the meantime, to access our pool of top-notch creative, technical, and digital talent, contact TECHEAD today.