How to make remote customer relationships less impersonal

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By Matt Doyle, Vice President and Co-Founder of Excel Buildersa truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.

With modern technology, very little communication needs to be done in person. However, relationships have always been a crucial factor in any business. A deal can easily fall apart in the face of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and other issues.

I often run into this problem in my custom home business. I may only see a client in person a few times between the planning meeting and the end of construction. Our relationship can be mostly distant, so I have to take steps to make sure the client always feels heard and respected.

Here are three strategies you can use, depending on customer preference, to nurture better remote relationships:

1. Choose a form of communication.

It’s good to give your customers more than one way to contact you. However, when communicating with customers simultaneously via email, chat apps, and SMS, it’s easy to miss important requests.

You can solve this problem by choosing a primary communication channel during the onboarding process. Ask your customers what form of communication they would prefer and make sure you stick to it as much as possible.

This may require some flexibility. Customers can request a form and then choose to ping you on other services. When this happens, follow their preferences, but try to guide them to a service to avoid confusion.

2. Establish early what is most important to them.

Previously, you had a lot more time to figure out what was most important to the customer. Now, with far fewer in-person meetings, it’s essential to get straight to the point as soon as possible.

Your first onboarding meeting with your client should cover their motivations and top priorities. For example, in my business, clients may care more about getting the house finished on time than keeping items that are running late.

Asking these questions during the first meeting helps you craft your email communications the right way for the rest of the relationship. Email messages that meet specific needs seem much less impersonal.

3. Make in-person meetings more interesting.

You may have few opportunities to meet your client while you are working together. These crucial opportunities to make a good impression should not be wasted. Consider moving your meetings to a more user-friendly setting than an office conference room.

For example, you could have your in-person meetings at restaurants, cafes, taverns, or recreational destinations (like golf courses). Where you meet should be highly dependent on your client’s needs.

Another option is to let the customer choose the meeting place. They may feel much more comfortable in a space they already know.

Conclusion

Remote communication with your customers doesn’t have to be impersonal. With a few minor changes to your policies, you can build stronger relationships in the time you have.

Choose a form of communication so that electronic conversations are well organized and accessible. Establish early what is most important to them so that future email messages can meet their needs. Finally, make the most of the limited possibilities you have for meetings. Make them entertaining and comforting occasions for your customers.

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