How to Maintain Good Customer Relationships Without In-Person Meetings
In an era where remote work has become commonplace, many customer success managers aren’t too happy. Why? Don’t they enjoy working from their home office? Sure, many professionals do, but their dissatisfaction is because the home office lifestyle inhibits their ability to meet face-to-face with customers. These in person interactions are the foundation of many excellent customer relationships, and it can sometimes be a challenge to build or sustain relationships without them.
So, how can you maintain strong B2B customer relationships without face-to-face interactions? It’s not an easy task, but here are a few suggestions to help…
- Provide customers with multiple ways to contact you – The office phone and email are obviously common, but especially with long term customers, don’t hesitate to provide your cell number as well. Take a multi-channel approach with your communication. If you’re hesitant to do this, it’s OK to set boundaries with customers. Let them know texting your cell is OK, but to only call when there’s an emergency.
- Communicate how the customer wants to communicate – When a customer reaches out to you, acknowledge not only what they’re saying but how they say it. Are they reaching out via phone? Live chat? Video call? Email? The way a customer communicates with you says a lot about what they expect from your relationship. A customer insistent on email may appreciate more transactional dialogue, while a frequent video chatter may be desiring a more human connection. Meet them where they want to communicate to maintain a strong relationship and reduce churn.
- Be reliable and consistent with communication – When you first start working with a customer, you establish a cadence of communication. Maybe, as a customer success professional, you tell them you respond to emails within 24 hours or you’ll have a weekly “touch base” call with them. However, over time this communication structure can fluctuate as responsibilities and work environments change. It’s important to either maintain the communication patterns you’ve established or be direct and revisit your communication frequency. Establishing and tracking Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can make a big difference here in staying on top of your communication and aligning customer expectations.
- Offer to provide real-time collaboration on projects – On-site customer meetings just aren’t as common in a remote work environment, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the alternatives. When a customer has a big project they’re working on, offer to provide a remote working session with them to help. You can set up a video conference and screen share to accomplish what you need to in a small window of time without trading a lot of emails.
- Share relevant content to show you’re thinking about the customer – A mix of both work and non-work related conversations are great for maintaining relationships with different customers, especially if you know them well. One of the key traits of an excellent customer success professional is listening, which is also essential to learning customer preferences and interests. When you find online a video or article that you know for sure hits a customer’s interest – be it technology, television, entrepreneurship, or sports because every customer is different – go ahead and share it with them if it makes sense. Don’t flood their inbox daily, but a nice piece of relevant content sporadically can be a great informal reminder that you’re still there to help with whatever they need.
To summarize, maintaining strong B2B customer relationships without face-to-face interaction requires a mixture of structure and creativity. Be open to communicating on different channels, set communication cadences you can realistically meet (and hopefully exceed), and find new ways to stay top-of-mind with your customers. Sure, nothing is the same as a face-to-face meeting, but you can still have strong customer relationships without them!