In today’s digital era, technology has widened what it’s possible for a single business to achieve. Companies can now have clients and customers from all over the world; they can have an impact on the other side of the globe. As wonderful as this is, it does require an internal shift when it comes to communication.
Humans are pretty good at talking to each other face to face—we tend to pick up on subtle cues that someone is not feeling great, and we offer so much additional context and meaning to our words with our posture, expression, hand gestures, and body language. Most methods of digital communication rely heavily on word choice and grammar to express our ideas.
The following will explore a few things that you can do to help improve your communication with clients, no matter how far away they are.
When Appropriate, Include Voice
Whenever it’s appropriate, you want to include your voice in your communication methods. Hearing another human’s voice and tone can radically alter how connected a client feels to the business that is working with them as it helps create a bond, a sense of connection, and a deeper understanding of the emotion behind the words being shared. If you have clients that are far away, maybe consider sip-trunking to help facilitate international phone calls. You don’t need to speak on the phone for every discussion, but putting in the effort to have your actual voice heard on occasion can help build a lasting relationship with a client. This is particularly important if you’re about to deliver positive news to your client.
Find A Hybrid System
No matter what software and services you employ to keep things running smoothly with your clients and other members of your virtual team, you want to be sure that you’re offering hybrid communication options; this means both face-to-face/voice call options and hyper efficient group chat/project management software options. This will allow people to be able to get the type of communication they need regardless of what stage the project is in.
For example, if someone has completed a task that allows other people to carry on with the project, a simple message to those people or the marking of a task completed on a project management software should be enough to convey that message. However, if there is a problem that requires some brainstorming and talking through of an issue, many people find a video call or a phone call to be more effective.
It’s also vital for everyone involved in a project to feel like they’re working with humans, not just machines. Having the occasional voice or video call can help people feel that connection.
Keep Your Meetings Short
Just like traditional meetings in the office, virtual meetings need to be kept short. There’s nothing more frustrating to a client or staff member than a forty-five-minute meeting that could have been a two-line email. Consistently, some of the top managers in the world cite keeping their meetings short and under control as a big factor in their success. You don’t want anyone involved in a project feeling bored, as this is going to negatively influence the energy and passion people put into the work at hand. You also don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time. It’s all too easy to feel like people have more time if they’re working from home, but this is often an unfair assumption.
Build In Time Zone Awareness
One feature that you absolutely need if you’re communicating with people all over the world is a constant reminder of what time it is locally for whomever you’re communicating with. Many applications offer this feature and include a local time beside each person’s name within the app. If one of your platforms or communication enhancing technologies doesn’t have this, find a way to incorporate it. It’s all too easy to miscalculate and send someone a message at 4 am their time. This can also help people have realistic expectations of when they should expect a response. If it’s 9 pm for someone else, they’re likely not going to be checking their messages until the following morning, meaning you could have a twelve-hour wait.
The above information should help you better manage your communication with clients around the world. Of course, every client is different, and this means you might want to speak to new clients about their preferred methods of communication. Some people aren’t able to answer calls during certain hours; others are on their email at every moment. Be willing to pivot to meet your client’s communication needs and preferences.