6 Surprising Ways to Build Trust with Customers in a Remote First World
Whether we’re talking about work relationships or our personal lives, our best relationships are those that have a deep level of trust. In the business world, building trust with customers is one of the most important things you can focus on to ensure long-term success. If you take steps to build trust—if you prove time and time again that even more faith can be placed in you—the relationship’s foundation is only made stronger. Think of every small thing you do towards building trust with a customer as laying another brick on that foundation. You’re a “trust mason,” building a rock-solid base. You’re making the bedrock stronger each time your client’s faith is rewarded.
With a firm foundation of trust, you can withstand nearly anything. If someone tries to poach your client, they’re not leaving. If there’s a miscommunication, the fault is shared. If something goes wrong, it’s easily forgiven. Obviously, minimizing mistakes and miscommunications will help to establish trust in the first place. But, once the trust is built and the foundation is ironclad—it makes a client relationship 10x more durable.
Overdelivering is an obvious way to establish and build trust, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Let’s take a look at 6 more surprising ways to build trust with customers in a remote-first world. “Eye contact and a firm grip” can no longer be the go-to first step to building a relationship. Let’s look towards the future of work and break down some more modern ways to build trust virtually.
1. Bring a notepad to calls
“Notepad” probably isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to the word “modern,” but you might be surprised. Get some good old-fashioned paper and pen, and bring it to your next virtual client call. Think back to the last time you were on a call and someone had a pen and paper, taking analog notes as the meeting transpired. Odds are, it gave you a very good impression. There are a few assumptions being made when this happens. First is that what is being shared is important, or in other words—worth writing down. The second is that what is being shared will not be forgotten. It’s being recorded by pen and paper right before your very eyes.
Giving your clients the confidence that their words, and that your conversations with them, are deeply important —that’s powerful. It might seem like a small thing, but next time you’re on a call where someone is taking physical notes, check in on yourself and gauge your reaction to that behavior. I’m willing to bet you might be inspired to dust off your own notepad and add this old-school analog tool to your “remote work set up.”
2. Place value on wellbeing and mental health
Mental health seemed like a taboo topic less than ten years ago, but thanks to the newest generation entering the workforce, it’s not only fine to discuss—it’s encouraged! Thanks to Gen Z’s willingness to plainly discuss mental health has irrevocably changed workplace culture. According to a recent Harris Poll, “While all generations have started to prioritize mental health during the pandemic, Gen Z was the vanguard generation of this movement, launching taboo mental health issues into the zeitgeist while championing mental health transparency.”
What this means for your relationships with your customers is allowing your conversations to broaden to this topic. For example, when establishing a communications cadence, discuss the potential for burnout and overall well-being as a part of your planning to open the door. Allow your clients to dictate the depth you go when discussing these sensitive issues, but when you gain the awareness that these conversations will only serve to strengthen the relationship—you’ll certainly see opportunities present themselves. Allowing conversations about mental health to be had when they organically arise, will definitely strengthen the bond between both parties. These sort of meaningful exchanges will add huge “bricks of trust” to the foundation of the relationship.
3. Communicate with clients how they prefer—not how you prefer
If you love Slack but your customer prefers email, guess which platform is best? It’s not going to serve the relationship to fully dictate the manner in which the relationship is held. Remote work and leadership expert Kevin Eikenberry is quoted in an article in Financial Management, as stating “We need to use the right tool for the right communication task, which means selecting the medium that has the best chance of getting my message received, not the one I like the most.”
“The best chance of getting the message received”—that’s the key piece. You might love sending voice notes on WhatsApp, but if your client wants to sticks to emails to ensure nothing gets lost, you should too. However, if things are getting lost in a never-ending email thread, then maybe suggest other means. But, let your client take the lead. Showing that you’re willing to meet them where they are when it comes to communication will certainly help establish deeper levels of trust. It will show them that you are here for them. You’re here to make the relationship as seamless and stress-free as possible.
4. Video over voice—whenever possible
According to a blog by the Adobe team, “seeing your client during video conferences provides personal interaction for both parties and may establish trust better than just voices over a telephone.” Communications experts have been trying to convince us for years that we do the majority of our communication via means beyond words. It’s not what we say, but how we say it. Basically, this means that so much more is perceived when you can see the person communicating to you. In the remote working future, building strong relationships with clients will involve a great deal of video communication, but there is a concern.
Zoom fatigue, or being “zoomed out,” is already a well-established phenomenon. There is a bevy of research and countless articles out there on the subject. The basic idea is that communicating over live video is far more exhausting than communicating with a colleague, client, or team in person. We feel like we’re performing when on video calls, while at the same time stuck in a particular chair for long blocks of time. It’s incredibly draining. One creative solution for building trust in the future of work is to use new technology that harnesses the trust-building power of video, without adding more video calls to the relationship.
Voodle is an asynchronous video communications tool, where you can exchange 60-second videos, organized and archived in threads. With this powerful new platform, you can build trust and show real human emotion, while participating when you want, alleviating zoom fatigue.
On one hand, allow your clients to select preferred communication styles and platforms. On the other, point out the benefits of both video and asynchronous platforms. Video helps us to really connect and feel the other person’s sentiment. Asynchronous communication allows us to dive into work when we feel most energized and inspired. Both of these benefits are massive. If for example, you have a client who prefers everything to happen over phone calls, that’s okay and you can meet them where they’re at. Just don’t be afraid to point out these incredible benefits and encourage a bit of experimentation. Who knows, maybe they’ll enjoy the upside, and you’ll reach greater levels of trust.
5. Pre- and post-meeting comms (agenda and recap)
Although a new tool like Voodle can be a powerful addition to your tech stack and help you minimize the number of video calls needed per week—you’ll always have some. Video calls are certainly here to stay and will be an integral part of all remote communication strategies going forward. Internal and external communications will both lean heavily on video calls. For your external communications with clients, one way to build more trust in the relationship is to send an asynchronous communication both before and after every call.
Doing this both demonstrates the importance of the relationship and specific call being referenced while helping to keep aligned on the next steps and overall progress. Including async pre- and post-call comms will also make each call more impactful. Rather than jumping on and starting with “So, where were we last time…” everyone on the call will know exactly where they left off and what’s on the agenda for the day. Lastly, you can utilize the power of video for these communications with a platform like Voodle.
Imagine getting a 60-second video a few hours before a big team call that lays out the precise purpose of the call with a brief agenda. Now, imagine a different 60-second video after an hour-long call with a succinct recap and clear next steps. If either of those communications came in email form, they would be helpful. In video form they’re helpful, they build trust, and they connect everyone involved on a deeper level. As this Adobe blog points out, “Even the most professionally conducted virtual meetings can feel a touch impersonal, and other forms of online communication can seem isolating. To foster strong client relationships, encourage communication that’s personal and fun.” Using a platform like Voodle for pre- and post-meeting communications will certainly be more fun and personal than anything in writting.
6. Be a huge fan of theirs
Being a fan can look like a lot of things, and don’t be afraid to do them all. There are a lot of actions you can take to show overall support. First, be an online cheerleader. Follow all of their social media accounts and give encouraging comments when you catch their posts. Second, sign up for everything. Subscribe to their youtube channel or podcast, and basically raise your hand for everything they’re offering to the general public. Show them that you’re keeping track and always in support, even between projects.
Other suggestions according to an Adobe blog are: Sign up for your client’s newsletters, keep tabs on changes they make to products and services, know their marketing campaigns. The article goes on to say, “Clients will trust you most when they see how you take time outside of your direct interactions to keep track of the latest with their business.” Everyone, including your clients, likes to be cheered for. We all like to be flattered. Taking these steps to show real support to the client, above and beyond your working relationship, will only strengthen the relationship. Every like on Instagram and every newsletter you reply to is another “brick of trust” stacked onto an already sturdy foundation.
To get more insights and tips on building trust in a remote-first world, download Voodle’s free white paper – Trust @ Work 2022.