Technology does a lot but it can’t do everything. Sometimes we forget that. We can get so dependent on email and social media that we lose sight of what clients really need. Customers expect to connect with brands in a multitude of high-tech ways, but they also crave deep and meaningful connections. It can be tricky to walk the line.
“Too little tech and you’ll seem out of touch, too much and you’ll lose the personal touch that keeps customers loyal and engaged,” says Paul G. Krasnow, author of The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and Life. “As you’re trying to find the right balance, just remember: Your client relationships are built on emotions and trust, so use technology only in a way that maintains, enhances, and propels those relationships to the next level.”
“Human needs don’t change,” adds Krasnow. “Relationships mattered in the days of pencil, paper, and snail mail, and they still matter in the days of Facebook and Skype.” Technology can enhance a strong, trust-based client relationship, but it’s no substitution for face-to-face time.
Here are 8 tips that will help you use tech tools in a smart and meaningful way.
1. Don’t let technology become your primary communication tool
Nothing can replace the effectiveness of a face-to-face encounter (even if it’s by Skype), especially in the early phases of your client relationship. Phone conversations can be great too. It’s fine to use email, texting, and email blasts to stay in touch with clients. These tools can enhance and strengthen a well-established relationship. But they should be supplemental.
2. Skype important meetings if you can’t be there in person
Ideally, in-person interactions are best for relationship building—especially with top clients—but of course they can’t always happen. Video conferencing is second best. It’s a great way to read body language and facial expressions—crucial for building trust and establishing positive and productive relationships.
3. Pick up the phone regularly
Many people dislike the phone. Conversations can be long-winded, and we’re all scheduled to the hilt. But it’s time to overcome your phone phobia. In terms of relationship building (not to mention problem solving), there is no substitute for the give and take that happens voice-to-voice.
4. Pay attention to client communication preferences
If a client seems to prefer phone, text, or in-person communication, make a note of it and honor their preferred style while maintaining your own dedication to person-to-person contact. This shows you care about and respect their preferences. Find a happy balance between the client’s style, yours, and the demands of the day.
5. Be thoughtful and deliberate with social media
Is your online presence well-planned and executed? Your Facebook or LinkedIn posts should meaningfully connect back to your brand and mission. Your tweets should provide value to clients and your audience. Don’t bombard followers with inane content. This negates your credibility. Post less and make sure your content is good.
6. Keep your website fresh and agile
Is your website in alignment with your brand image and your mission? Make sure it’s as professional and sleek as your own personal appearance when you meet a client for the first time. Successful companies present streamlined, up-to-date websites with modern fonts, colors, and layouts. If it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed your web design, your website is long overdue for a tune-up and a facelift.
7. Use email to share relevant and compelling content with clients
High trust relationships thrive on frequent contact. To solidify your connections (especially when you haven’t talked in a while), share articles and content you know they will enjoy. This gesture shows you are thinking about them and know their interests. Just keep these communications in balance. Bombarding clients with spammy links may actually weaken and undermine the value of your relationship.
8. Provide client login and access to their information
Whenever possible, empower clients and put their information at their fingertips. This not only saves time for clients when they need access, but it also goes a long way toward building mutual trust.
“If you harness the power of technology correctly, it can do wonderful things for your business,” concludes Krasnow. “But remember that it is only one tool in your toolbox. Use technology to enhance business, but don’t let it overshadow your mission to keep trust-based client relationships at the center of everything you do.”
Paul G. Krasnow is the author of The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and Life. He is a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he has been a top producer for 40 years. Early in his career, Paul suf¬fered a financially devastating bankruptcy with a line of clothing stores he owned, but went on to join Northwest¬ern Mutual, where he has created an impressive financial portfolio and a strong network of clients, many of whom have become lifelong friends. Paul regularly speaks for multiple life associations in the U.S. and has given seminars for law firms and CPA firms in the Southern California area.