Building and Maintaining Strong Customer Relationships Remotely – Part 2

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In my previous post we talked about strategies that can help build strong customer relationships in the virtual world. Building relationships takes effort and focus to bind people together and when there is a focus, it becomes a priority to maintain it. Nurturing a customer impacts business outcome.

Therefore, every customer relationship should have an engagement plan that aims to increase positive interactions. These professional relationships
are critical to stay ahead of the competition and drive the customer to recommend you to colleagues or business acquaintances. Here are several key aspects to remember when creating an engagement plan:

Mode of communication: One of the important components of an engagement plan would be to identify how a customer prefers to communicate (email, video calls, SMS, chat) and their preference on the frequency (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).

Scheduling: Once the method of communication is identified, scheduling meetings and communicating the intent of the meeting along with an agenda affirms that both parties are aligned. Invite and involve people relevant to the meeting to drive value and better outcomes.

Cancellations: Cancelling a meeting closer to the date or on the day leaves a bad impression. Be on time, and ensure minutes are documented and shared. A conversation that isn’t documented is a conversation that never happened.

Actions and follow-ups: Creating a comprehensive mutual outcome success plan and following up to drive needed actions ensures accountability. In a procurement organization, a chief procurement officer (CPO) may not be the only one who can make things happen. Getting a multifaceted view of the people in the customer’s organization as well as your own will help move things faster.

Managing expectations: Transparency and honesty is the real deal when it comes to managing customer expectations effectively. Setting clear expectations at the beginning of an engagement, documenting and communicating often is crucial.

Collaboration: Tools like Mural, Menti.com, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are becoming commonplace. If a customer is not accustomed to using a specific type of tool, providing them information in the form of a video or a process document will enable them better. On the other hand, if you aren’t aware of the nuances of a specific tool that the customer prefers to use, being proactive and learning about it before the meeting will show preparedness.

Additionally, staying connected with your customers on social media will help them to learn more about you as a professional, your thoughts and opinions. Social media provides a naturally intimate environment to connect with your brand and elevate the relationship. A recent report “Creating Connection: What consumers want from brands in a divided society” found that 91% of people want brands to help people connect through social and 64% of consumers want brand to connect with them.

Virtual relationships with customers require care, personalized attention, and commitment especially in challenging times like now. Being able to prioritize professional goals over personal goals to create customers for life requires meticulous planning and execution. With a right engagement model focused on the need to serve and a sense of ownership to drive outcomes is paramount to any relationship – virtual or in-person.

To read the Part -1 of the blog series, click here.

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