We’ve talked about managing a remote team given our current situation and offered our best remote management tips based on our many years of experience. But what about the client experience? How can you be agile with your client relationships without compromising integrity at such an unusual time in the work world? Managing client expectations while performing remote work is entirely possible as long as you consider some very important factors.
Probably the most important rule of thumb when working with clients--whether remotely or not--is you’re unlikely to ever communicate too much. Communication is the driving force in any good relationship. When you’re working with a client, especially in a remote situation, you’ll want to establish trust and reliability. Using frequent communication via email and various messaging platforms will ensure you and your client are on the same page, and they will likely be grateful for the clear and reliable messaging. But, you can also have an open discussion on frequency of communication to ensure a good flow.
This is especially important as you take on new clients. Setting the expectations up front in regards to frequency and modes of communication is key to managing workflow. Also, establishing a point of contact, like a project manager or chief of staff, will further improve efficiency in communications. All of these elements of communication can be configured into a contract, which we will address next.
Another aspect that involves clear, direct communication, setting up a detailed and comprehensive contract before you begin working with any new clients or on new projects will lessen the likelihood of conflict and additional work in the long run. Map out expected work and projects with as much detail as possible, like a list of deliverables and deadlines. Get clear on revision caps and how many you’re willing to work with. Confirm communication details like point of contact, mode of messaging and frequency of communications. Last, but not least, be very specific with payment terms.
Use Your Resources
Our world is full of apps and other tech resources that are made for managing remote work. The key is knowing which tools work best for both you and your clients.
Project management tools like Basecamp, Asana, Trello, and Wrike allow you to break down and organize deliverables, create roadmaps, and include daily updates to various tasks. Clients with high or demanding expectations about the status of tasks can easily access the project management dashboard to check on status. The transparency offered by these team-based software programs builds greater trust and loyalty within the client relationship. In fact, a study by Wrike found that 87 percent of high-performing companies utilize project management software. There’s no time like the present to get on board.
You may also want to get in the habit of using time-adjusted automated calendars, especially if you have international clients or clients on different time zones. Easily accessible and free tools like Apple’s Clock application can allow you to compare multiple time zones. Fully automated calendar products, such as Calendly, allow you to send a link to your meeting participants that lets them book a time slot available in your calendar and adjusts for time zone settings. These programs also send automated reminders via email prior to a meeting.
Also, since much of remote work involves video or web-based programs, make sure all of your technology is as up to date as you need it to be. Now is the time to upgrade your internet service and devices. It will pay off in the long run and make your client relationships that much stronger.
Flexibility is Key
During this strange and unusual time, probably the most important consideration to remember is to maintain flexibility. In the face of adversity, this can be a lifesaver. There are always workarounds and other ways to get tasks done. Sometimes you may need to think outside the box or take a mental break from your work zone. Head outside for fresh air and find some inspiration when you need to.
Work with your clients’ various needs as best you can, maintain a positive attitude and give them (and yourself!) grace. Ask them to do the same for you. If you find you are disagreeing too often over expectations, this relationship may not be the best fit. And that’s okay. It’s nobody’s fault, but it is definitely imperative that you end a client relationship when ideals and values just won’t line up.