11 Ways to Make Smart Use of Tech— Without Losing the Personal Touch
The High-Tech/High-Trust Balance:
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 people really need from us—especially in business. Yes, clients expect to connect with us in various high-tech ways, but they also crave the deep and meaningful connections that can only come from face-to-face (or at least voice-to-voice) connections. It can be tricky to walk the line.
Don’t let “faceless” and “voiceless” 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. And meaningful phone conversations can be great, too. It’s fine to use less powerful tech solutions like email, texting, and e-blasts to stay in close contact with your clients. These can enhance and strengthen a well-established relationship. But they should only be supplemental.
Skype important meetings if you can’t be there in person. Ideally, “in person” interactions are best for relationship building—especially with your top clients—but of course they can’t always happen. Video conferencing is second best. Make sure you’re using this tech tool often. It’s a great way to read body language and facial expressions—crucial for building trust and establishing positive and productive relationships.
Pick up the phone regularly. Many people dislike the phone. Conversations can be long and meandering, and we’re all busy. But you must 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. Schedule actual phone conversations with clients to catch up and find out how they are doing. Keep that human connection alive!
Pay attention to how the client communicates. If a client seems to prefer phone, text, or in-person communication, make a note of it and honor his or her preferred style while maintaining your own dedication to person-to-person contact. This shows them you care about and respect their preferences. Find a happy balance between the client’s style, yours, and the demands of the day.
Match the medium to the message. If you want to distinguish yourself and have something very important to say, write a letter! If you are trying to book an appointment with a busy person, figure out something complex, or discuss a potentially sensitive issue, pick up the phone. If you only want confirmation of a small piece of information and you’ve recently spoken with a client, feel free to use email. Let your instinct be your guide.
Be thoughtful and deliberate with social media. Your competition is taking advantage of these platforms and so should you. But make sure your online presence is well planned and executed. Your Facebook or LinkedIn posts should meaningfully connect back to your brand and mission and provide value to clients and other readers. Don’t bombard your followers with inane content. This negates your credibility. Post less and make sure your content is good.
Whenever possible, empower clients by putting information
at their fingertips.
Keep your website young and agile. Is your website in alignment with your business image and your mission? Make sure it’s as professional and sleek as your own personal appearance when meeting a client for the first time. Successful companies have streamlined, up-to-date websites with modern fonts, colors, and layouts. If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your design, your website is long overdue for a tune-up and a facelift.
Use email to send links to articles you think your client might enjoy. Trusting relationships thrive on frequent contact. To solidify your connection to clients (especially when you haven’t talked in a while), send them little links and articles you know they will enjoy.
Send e-newsletters to all your clients. This a good way to engage regularly with clients and stay on their minds. Create compelling content that connects with the various lines of services you are currently offering and craft interesting articles for your clients around related topics.
Personalize your high-tech communication. Sometimes e-blasts make sense, but whenever possible, include a small personal note at the top that lets clients see they matter to you.
Allow clients to login and access their information. Whenever possible, empower clients by putting information at their fingertips.
Paul G. Krasnow is the author of The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and Life. For more information, please visit www.paulgkrasnow.com.