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4 tips for managing client relationships in a virtual world

With many businesses opting to rely on remote work technologies, channel partners need new strategies for managing client relationships.

Some would say the business world has started to transition out of COVID-19 safety protocols. Nevertheless, many clients continue to work remotely, using the video conference technology they have grown accustomed to, instead of resuming in-person meetings.

The persistence of video has led to a shift in how technology partners have typically managed client relationships in the past. Rather than use in-person engagements to create client bonds, partners must now foster relationships without meeting face to face.

Here are four ways partners can do so.

Increase communications

An important strategy for managing client relationships is to establish a more regular cadence of communications.

Communication with clients doesn't have to be a video conference every time. Phone calls are effective. Even just a quick email to check in and see how things are going can make a difference.

However, ensure these communications don't overlap with sales efforts. Partners should focus on letting clients know they are thinking about them and avoid sales pitches. Ask for feedback and what the clients' most critical efforts are at that point in time. It will help gain a clear sense of clients' priorities and ways to support them.

Reassess remote and hybrid technology implementations

At the beginning of the pandemic, most partners implemented technologies to transition their clients to remote or hybrid workforces. Perhaps those technologies were architected to remain solid until the end of time. Then again, maybe they weren't -- perhaps they were more like holding together the Hoover Dam with chewing gum and duct tape.

Now is a good time to go back and review the remote work technologies, security policies and standard practices put in place. Search for cracks in the armor. Partners might find an implementation worked fine as a temporary measure but doesn't make sense long term. If the review uncovers issues, develop a remediation plan.

Managing client relationships is not just about meeting in person. It's also about supporting clients when contact is limited.

By reexamining implementations, partners can show clients they do not rest on their laurels but instead take a proactive -- rather than reactive -- approach to IT.

Revisit end-user security awareness

Many partners do their best to protect their clients from security threats. With so much of the workforce now mobile, equipping end users with knowledge and awareness is a big part of that mission.

Partners can remotely provide educational resources to keep clients' employees focused on good security practices. Additionally, virtual resources can teach end users new tips and tricks on how to remain safe.

Security awareness isn't a "one and done" type of initiative, though. Communications must remain frequent. Otherwise, end users will eventually lose focus and slip back into bad habits.

Host a webinar

A great way for partners to encourage engagement is to host a live webinar for clients.

Make the webinar free and give plenty of advance notice.

Before deciding on which topics to include in the presentation, consider sending clients a short survey to uncover their top technology concerns. By focusing the webinar on a topic that clients care about, more people will likely sign up to attend. Additionally, clients will feel heard.

Managing client relationships is not just about meeting in person. It's also about supporting clients when contact is limited and even when everything is running fine. Regardless of what approach a partner takes, the main idea is to provide value, remain in regular communication and encourage interaction. In the end, it may not be the same as taking out a client to lunch, but it will help to fill the void while the business world remains largely virtual.

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