Out of Scope

Preview image
Written by

Hirsch Leatherwood

Out of Scope

Client Relations in a Hybrid, Always-Online World

Whether it’s a quick exchange on Telegram, a standing phone call, or an in-person coffee meet-up, client relations tactics can take many forms—often within the same day.

The diversity of these interactions has become more pronounced in today's hybrid work environment. With teams dispersed across various locations and workstyles, maintaining and nurturing relationships with clients demands a nuanced approach.

As a significant portion of business moves online, digital communication is the lifeblood of successful client relations. The days of standing weekly phone calls on speaker phones or relying solely on a single channel, like email or Zoom, are long gone. Today, effective client management involves seamlessly pivoting between communication methods based on the needs of the situation and the preferences of the client.

The cornerstone of successful client relations in the hybrid work era is adaptability. Each client is unique and, more likely than not, so are their communication preferences. Some may prefer the efficiency and security of a Telegram chat, while others may find comfort in a calendared phone call. Recognizing and respecting these preferences is crucial for building rapport and ensuring a positive client experience. It’s also important to understand that those preferred methods are subject to change. Being adaptable enough to pivot with clients from one mode of communication to another demonstrates a commitment to meeting clients where they are—and maintaining client-centricity.

Constant management is another important facet of successful client relations—one that actually predates the pandemic. The notable difference in today’s world is that constant client management can take on modern, new, or different forms. In addition to schedules varying and time zones posing challenges, people are likely joining conversations from different places—whether they’re in the same city or halfway across the globe. That’s why it's essential to keep a proactive stance in managing client interactions.

What does this look like in the real world? Regular check-ins, standing phone calls, and periodic face-to-face meetings, whether virtual or in-person, all contribute to a sense of continuity and reliability. Taking a consistently proactive approach not only strengthens the client relationship but also provides opportunities to address any concerns, share updates, and align on goals in real time.

In the absence of guaranteed physical proximity, the onus is on clear and open communication to promote transparency and create trust. Keeping clients informed about project progress, potential challenges, and any shifts in strategy helps build credibility. Transparency also extends to setting realistic expectations and being candid about timelines, potential roadblocks, and anticipated outcomes – even when those conversations might feel initially uncomfortable. And the benefit goes both ways: you can maintain proactivity, and your client can make informed decisions based on a complete picture of the work and how it’s being executed.

Beyond the confines of work-related discussions, leaving room for casual, non-work chatter is equally important. Counterintuitively, this can be the most complex element of hybrid client relations – creating water cooler chat without a water cooler. The important thing to remember is that we’re all human. It may sound simple, but peppering in personal anecdotes, chatter about the weather, and upcoming weekend plans can go a long way in deepening the bond between consultant and client.

To sum it all up: effective client relations in the hybrid work era hinges on constant communication, adaptability, and transparency. Taking stock of client communication preferences, embracing a proactive approach to relationship management, and incorporating a personal touch all contribute to building strong and enduring connections. The environment around work will continue to evolve and change. Keep client communications vibrant, varied, and trust-inspiring to stay ahead of the curve.