5 Great Ways to Virtually Interact with Your Clients
During the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone works from home. Remote working is a precaution to stay safe, but it poses a problem for those of us who still need to make progress on client projects.
You will probably agree that retaining existing clients is essential to maintaining a successful business. Clients stick with you when you interact with them frequently and keep them happy. Loyal clients are more open to change if you ever need to change how you work, and they are more understanding of inevitable delays and errors. Also, your existing clients have a hand in giving you a good reputation.
So, knowing how to maintain existing client relationships virtually is crucial.
What about new client relationships? You might be working from home for an extended period. Your usual way of meeting new clients might no longer be possible, so you will need to explore ways of building strong relationships with new clients – at a time when you need them the most.
Nothing beats in-person interactions with clients, but so much can now be done virtually.
Here are five of the best virtual client interactions for you to try when working with clients remotely – and some suggestions of virtual tools to help make them happen.
1. One-On-One Video Calling
Obviously the ideal situation is to meet in person with a client for anything from project proposals to discussing edits. However, that’s not exactly possible in the current climate.
The closes thing to an in-person meeting is a video call. Sure, you can always just talk to your client over the phone. However, things can get lost without visual communication. You also might need to show them something on your computer or otherwise.
There are several free or low-cost video-calling tools out there, such as GoogleMeet or Zoom. When choosing a video-calling service you will likely want one that allows you to share screens, have multiple participants, a chat function, and more.
2. Online Invoicing
One of the less glamorous, but necessary, client interactions is asking for payment.
While online invoicing was widespread before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now essential for any business that was previously relying on paper or Word document invoicing.
Luckily, there are many reliable and easy-to-use online invoicing tools on the market for freelancers and small businesses alike. Clearly not all online invoicing software is created equally. It important to choose one that has all the features your business needs.
If you’re looking for something that provides full-service accounting in addition to simply invoicing, Quickbooks is a highly recommended tool. With Quickbooks you can create custom branded invoices and quotes, track payments, view reports on your cash flow, and more.
Another popular tool is Freshbooks. Like Quickbooks, it has full invoicing and payment tracking features. They offer three levels of plans to serve whatever size business you might have.
Sometimes, you just want to remind your clients that you still exist. Live streaming is a great way to do this. A phone call might be too intrusive, but getting a notification that you have started live streaming gives them the option to engage with you.
Live streaming is where you broadcast your device’s camera, typically pointed at your face, to your entire social media following. Your clients can get a notification whenever you “go live” on Facebook, YouTube, or on some other network that supports live streaming.
You can build credibility and rapport with your clients in your live streams by talking about topics related to the work that you do for them. And you can keep your streams engaging by telling relevant stories.
With any luck, your clients will enjoy hearing from you and might even send in messages to your live stream, which you can respond to in real-time.
4. Satisfaction Survey
Economic uncertainty is causing people to hold on to their cash. Clients are less willing to spend money and are looking for ways to reduce spending.
Equally, you need to keep money coming in, so you need to retain your clients.
People subconsciously send money on what they want, rather than on what they need. So, you need to make sure that you are something that your client wants by providing an excellent customer experience.
But how can you know if your clients are happy with your service when you cannot see their facial expressions or social cues?
Create a customer satisfaction survey to send to your clients, using a questionnaire builder like Typeform or SurveyMonkey. Here is an excellent set of examples of customer satisfaction surveys to get you started.
Make improvements to your service based on the feedback that you receive.
5. Referral Program
Your existing clients are reasonably happy with the service that you currently provide them – if they were not, they would be your ex-clients. So, why not incentivize your clients to recommend you to others?
According to the U.S. data and measurement company, Nielson, your potential clients are four times more likely to try your services when referred to you by a friend.
A referral program is a great way to engage with your clients. Your clients will be happy to know that their future work with you will be discounted, and the thought of a reward will keep you on their mind.
Use an online referral tool, like GrowSurf or ReferralCandy, to handle your referrals online. These tools let you see detailed analytics, like which existing client referred each new client to you, and how much discounted service each client is owed.
You will have more success in getting your existing clients to join your referral program when you ask them to join it shortly after completing some work for them. You will have done something to help them out and, despite getting paid for it, they will feel like they owe you a favor.
A client relationship can disappear without frequent communication and engagement, especially during this long period of social separation. Lucky for you, you now know how to interact with clients remotely, using virtual tools like video calling, online invoicing, asking for their feedback and more. It might take a little time to determine what works best for your business, but with some experimenting and outreach to your client, your business will be running on a “new normal” in no time.
If you’re trying to get started with accounting or invoicing software quickly, check out our article How to Choose Accounting Software for Your Small Business.