Tips For Managing Remote Clients

Thanks to Vietcetera for sharing the following article.

Social distancing measures have sent staff to work from home and all but eliminated face-to-face client contact. Businesses had little choice but to turn to video conferencing apps like Zoom to speak to clients. 

Many founders and managers are discovering that embracing the time-saving and cost-cutting technology has provided a silver lining. Remote meetings are helping to drive down costs by streamlining tasks, cutting down travel time and eliminating flashy client lunches. 

But once the “human touch” is removed from the daily interactions, sales teams and account managers might struggle to optimize trust, reassure clients and keep them informed during the pandemic. It is especially true for businesses dependent on face-to-face contact, such as branding agencies and business consultancies.

Vietcetera has reached out to leaders in client-facing roles to learn how client management is being shaped by the new work-from-home reality. Here’s the sharing from…

Chris Elkin, Founder, Doodle Brands

Since transitioning to WFH, how has the agency-client dynamic been affected?

My team and I at Doodle Brands work with a broad range of clients, in all kinds of industries, in Vietnam and the region. Many clients were initially in some form of ‘stand-still shock’, then ‘let’s wait-and-see’ and then ‘let’s wait until this passes’. My advice has been empathetic but honest. Adapt – don’t die. Don’t keep delaying. Don’t wait for things to change back. It’s time to innovate a way forward. Beyond the obvious ‘cost-cutting’ I ask, how might we re-frame these challenges together with your team?   

With the right mindset, methods and tools to empower change, BIG opportunities await those teams that are willing to look again, re-imagine and envision future possibilities to prosper with their clients.  

Other than video conferencing apps, what’s in your WFH toolbox?

A ‘WFH toolbox’ is only as good as the team that seek to extract value from it. The WFH toolbox we use at Doodle Brands 3 step innovation approach that’s leveraged to help our clients-teams in three key ways:

To ‘Look again’ – to uncover and make clear what customers really need in these fast-changing times.
Otter – This app works on a phone or web browser to record, review, search, play, edit, organize and share conversations, observations and first insights from your customer.

To ‘Understand’ – to help gain stakeholder inputs, swift alignment and a shared way forward together.
Post-it – My team and I train people and facilitate outcomes using Design Thinking methods to help our clients innovate every day. We collaborate very visually together. We facilitate remote and in-person workshops using a lot of ‘Post-it Notes’. This App has handwriting recognition and helps us to ‘digitize’ all our work and then make it available to all stakeholders to better understand the way forward together.

To ‘Do (doodle)’ – to make the desired future solution together.
Mural – This is a game-changing digital white-board/workspace. We use this every day to collaborate and co-create internally, with clients and our clients’ customers. We use it to plan, to brainstorm new ideas, to evaluate work, to help align and make better decisions and to capture customer empathy.

What is your WFH strategy in approaching new clients? In closing deals?

Well, we try to practice what we preach to our clients (as shared above). Some specific questions I have to guide us in closing deals are:  

  1. How do I add value today to my clients’ crisis?
  2. What ideas have we been working on recently ‘here’ that can be used ‘over here’ with this client when their ‘bounce-back’ comes?  
  3. What is their ‘new reality’ likely to look like?  (We keep track of ideas we can develop for that stage.)

Some fundamentals don’t change though. It’s all about people relationships, keeping our promises and building trust over the long-term. We’ve been fortunate to live and do business in Vietnam for nearly 15 years.  So a lot of our business comes from referrals initially.

How can companies ensure they continue to provide value during the pandemic?

We’ve got to remain connected more than ever. We can’t stop innovating, working together on problems and ideas – or even talking to customers – just because we can’t physically be together for the moment. While we may be ‘physically distant’ – we are NOT ‘emotionally distant’. There are some amazing things happening to help us. With the right mindset, methods, tools, bandwidth and access we can continue connecting. There are all kinds of ways to deliver new customer delight, by design.

The full article can be found here.

Please get in touch if you’d like to explore how to innovate your brands, products, services, experiences, and systems through Design Thinking.

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