Tips for forming lasting business relationships at a distance
The growth in the virtual workforce is led primarily by the increasing use of digital technology. As more people leverage the ability to offer virtual services, the sheer number of virtual workers earning a healthy income from the comfort of the home continues to increase.
A 2016 study by Global Workplace Analytics states that approximately 22% of the American self-employed population work primarily from home. However, the same statistics also show that around 2.8% of American employees now work from home or telecommute at least half of their time.
While there are plenty of benefits to working virtually, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is building strong relationships with clients that can turn them from one-time business transactions into long-term repeat customers. Whether, you are a solopreneur, freelancer or just work remotely from the office, the challenges to solidify a rapport are real.
Virtual workers don’t often have the ability to meet with many of their clients face to face. The success of any virtual business is dependent on building trust. Despite never meeting many clients in person, it’s possible for virtual workers to forge reliable connections in other ways. Here are some tips for forming strong relationships with clients as a virtual worker.
Running a virtual workplace often means relying on various digital forms of communication to keep in touch with your clients. For most virtual workers, email remains the primary form of communication, but that is changing rapidly.
Emails are fine for attaching contractual agreements or files pertinent to your work. However, not all clients want to read or write lengthy emails when discussing job details.
Some clients may want to discuss the intricacies of job specifications over Skype or Google Chat and like the camera option, which allows for eying each other during the conversation. Others may prefer to stay in contact with sporadic phone calls, while still others might favor updates via a messaging system.
The key to ensuring your clients trust you and your virtual business is to offer them various options for staying in touch with you.
Offering your customers a variety of ways to contact you won’t do you any good unless you respond to communications promptly. If you use a desktop or laptop computer as your primary workstation, ensure you check emails and messages throughout your working day.
If you’re away from your computer, sync your smartphone or mobile device to your contact options, so you always know if a client is trying to get in touch with you.
Brandon Hinojos, a copywriter at Textworkers, told RPRNMag, “I’ve learned to build a relationship by answering quickly and offering different communications options.”
When you’re providing virtual products or services for clients, it’s crucial to set clear goals and expectations. Be concise about what your clients can expect if they engage your services.
Always confirm any deadlines for completing the work you’ve agreed to do and be sure you deliver on time. Being transparent about what your clients can expect and then consistently deliver exactly what you promised goes a long way towards building trust in your virtual business.
No matter how large or small your virtual task might be, always let your clients know you’re thankful for trusting you with their business needs. After all, as more people begin offering virtual services across the country, your clients have the choice of plenty of virtual companies to get the work they need.
A simple ‘thank you’ at the end of an email or message or on the bottom of an invoice is often enough to let them know you appreciate their trust.
Establish Early On Consistency
If you’re serious about turning your one-time customers into long-term repeat clients, consistency is critical. You only get one shot at a first impression, so begin your working relationship in the same manner as you intend to continue.
Your client will form an initial expectation based on your first communications. Aim to deliver the promised work exactly as discussed in the timeframe specified and your client will learn to trust you and your business.
Follow up your completed virtual business transaction with a thank you note and make it easy for your client to trust that any future business conducted with you will always be equally as consistent.
Forming strong client relationships is the key to success for any business. Create a strategy for building trust in your virtual business, and you’ll find that distance and lack of physical presence are no barriers to your success.
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