There’s a lot of value in face time with customers, whether exchanging contact information at a networking meeting, chatting about product advantages at a trade show or just grabbing a cup of coffee and talking shop. But when you can’t get together in person, knowing how to build business relationships virtually ensures customers know your company cares—even if you can’t be there. Here are some tips to help stay connected.
While staring at a screen all day, it can be easy to gloss over another email or get distracted during a virtual chat. Ensure contacts are getting your full attention by:
- Putting down the phone and focusing on the discussion, not other work obligations like email or an internal messaging system. This will help you catch vocal or physical cues that might otherwise be missed.
- Ask customers to go face-to-face virtually by going on camera. It’s much easier to stay focused and feel connected when you have eyes on each other.
Mark the calendar
Although in-person lunches, coffees or after-work beverages are out, mark time on the calendar for some virtual talk time with customers. Send them a tumbler along with a favourite coffee or tea, or a stemless wine glass and a favourite beverage and set a date—or a monthly invite—to catch up.
Surprise them with a small gift
Find small ways to show customers how much you appreciate them. Send them a thank-you note or offer a discount. Include a useful gift with their next order like a screen and keyboard cleaner to make their work life just a little easier. Send VIP customers a gift basket or bag with useful items like hand sanitizer, or something more fun like a stuffed dinosaur, just to make them smile.
Host a virtual event
Holding a virtual holiday gathering, anniversary party, educational event or networking meeting can be a great way to catch up. Set a time, invite customers and amp up the fun with business gifts. For instance, to mark a company anniversary, ask attendees to grab some cake and ice cream—and send them a mood spoon to memorialize the event. Or, if you’re hosting an online holiday party, a fireside hot chocolate kit makes a memorable gift.
Keep in touch
When you can’t get together in person, knowing how to build business relationships virtually shows them you care. And with every online coffee talk, networking event or business gift idea, you’ll keep that relationship strong until the next time you can shake hands.