Many of us have been thrust into a challenging situation with COVID-19, both personally and professionally. Whether you're a business owner that now has to struggle with the work from home gig, with the partner, the kids AND the dog, or you're quickly trying to implement strategies for employees to work remotely AND find new ways to interact with clients or customers - it's all pretty bloody overwhelming.
It's not impossible though. Some coping strategies will help.
Reign in the overwhelm by putting in place ways to deal with your immediate issues:
- How to work remotely effectively by using better technology (for you and your team)
- How to implement technology to better engage with clients and prospects
How to work remotely effectively by using better technology (for you and your team)
Working from a home office is something I've done for years. However, it's not something everyone wants to do or can do well. However, you don't have many options at the moment, we need to make it work for you and your team. Some good strategies can help make it more effective, a little simpler and less overwhelming.
Let's address the non-techie parts first, which may sound like no-brainers, but are just as important:
- Start and finish at specific times: you will have scope creep into your personal life otherwise. You'll also need to set boundaries with family members as to when you can talk about 'home' stuff. Make sure your team do the same thing - we don't know how long this may last and you don't want them to burn out.
- Not a PJ's fan: you can wear what you like, but I'm the kind of person that needs to feel like I can get on a Zoom meeting and I have the right clothes on, plus hair and make-up done. For some, PJs might be an option, but if that isn't what you normally wear to work then maybe pick something you could run to the coffee shop in (if it were actually open). It's important that your team do the same, so have a rule for Zoom meetings - 'cameras on'. At least their top half will be camera ready!
- Have proper breaks: when you don't have the normal interruptions of phones ringing, coffee meetings, chats at desks, you may be surprised at how long you work before you realise it's been several hours. Schedule breaks by using your phone alarm, so that you make sure you walk around, stay hydrated and keep in touch with other humans. Tell your team to do the same - they may need your permission to feel like they can take a break from the madness.
Now let's get to the technology bits - all of which can help you stay efficient and connected with your team members:
- Zoom and Skype: many people already use these tools, so they may not be new to you. But make sure you have the camera on, because seeing other people will be really important when you're isolated (hence PJ's may not be the best option). You can also connect an iPad and use a drawing app when you need a whiteboard to get your point across. Both have recording options, so use it to allow people to engage, rather than take notes.
- Slack: a great way to keep conversations out of email, which can be hard to track and disruptive. You can have group conversations, private chats, upload documents and even have calls within the app. It can be integrated with many other project tools as well, so you can track conversations on all workflows.
- Asana: a great project management tool that allows you to easily track workflows. Assign tasks to team members, create recurring jobs, upload documents and check tasks off as they're done. An easy way to see what workload everyone has and see what deadlines are looming.
- Loom: a free video tool that allows you to be on camera, screenshare or both. It's a great way to explain an issue or concept to someone in your team, or use it as a teaching tool for clients. Create folders and share them with whoever needs access.
All of these tools are designed to make interacting online easier, when you don't have the luxury of accessing a file, or getting up to go chat with a team member.
How to implement technology to better engage with clients and prospects
Many businesses are feeling the pinch right now because they weren't prepared to go online. They were putting off that online program, or finding better ways to meet with clients, or maybe even getting an effective payment system on their website. All of that has come to a head quickly, when the other options to engage or create income, have stopped being viable.
So what are some quick ways to keep your clients engaged and still keep attracting new ones?
Let's run through some ways to keep your existing clients engaged:
- Facebook Group: this is a great way to keep your existing clients engaged and be in a position to answer any questions they might have. Go Live on a regular basis, do Q&A sessions, anything that might provide comfort and information will help with retention.
- Frequently asked questions: you might be gathering some regular questions from clients right now, so create a FAQ page on your website, or beef up your existing one. This information could provide a lot of comfort to clients at the moment, plus reduce your need to answer the same questions over and over.
- Zoom meetings: a great way to interact with clients, while you can't meet face to face. Whether you're going through documents (screenshare is a great option), whiteboarding a concept (connect your iPad) or taking them through a PT session, you can do it ALL on Zoom. If your meetings need to be recorded in some way, then make sure you start the Record function and then send it to Rev.com to be transcribed for yours and your client's records.
- Calendar tool: stop the to and fro of finding the right time to meet. Add a calendar tool like Calendly.com to your website and social channels, and allow your clients to find a time that suits them. It's easy to block out times in your calendar that are available and the tool will sync with your calendar tool. It's easy and it's efficient.
- Video in email: now is a great time to keep in front of your clients with personal messages. BombBomb.com is a great tool for that. You can record a video that actually sits in your email as a video and the client (or team member) can play it easily and quickly. An awesome way to stay in touch and add a human element.
- Chatbot: add one to your website and Facebook page and see how you can serve the needs of your existing clients better. Direct them to book a call with you (with your new calendar tool), direct them to FAQs, send them to an article you just wrote or a video you just recorded. It's a stand-in for you when you aren't available, or when your clients aren't inclined to reach out. Keep everyone feeling valued by providing guidance and information.
OK, so maybe you have a business that's still active in attracting new clients. Now is the time to start implementing strategies that you've been thinking about, but haven't done yet. Some ideas might be:
- Online course: can you take what you do online? Create a simple program using an off the shelf system, like Kajabi or Thinkific. Complement it with a Facebook group to keep people engaged with the people behind the business. It also helps to build a community and have a place for people to 'belong'.
- Create videos: Use platforms like YouTube, IGTV and Facebook to create videos educating about what you do. Create a YouTube channel and fill it up! Pre-record them or go Live straight to the platforms. This content is what helps create an audience for you, that you can interact with and potentially sell to at some stage.
- Tidy up your shop: if you have a website that sells shippable products, make sure your product pages are really tight - great images and videos, clear copywriting about your product, reviews from buyers - anything that helps make the visitor make a purchase. Now would be the time to offer free shipping, discounts or freebies where possible.
- Retarget: Use advertising to retarget people who visit your website. You can use Google advertising, as well as Facebook and Instagram to track and show these visitors the right ads. Yes, it's kind of like stalking, but it works. You want to keep them warm with lots of valuable content - the goal is to get them on your email list and sell to them there.
- Sell to your email list: it's much easier to sell to someone who has bought from you already, or who has taken the step to get on your email list - they already like you. Given them an incentive by being on your list, because everyone likes a deal. If you're in the referral business, ask them to refer a friend that might need your services - they are likely to refer someone just like themselves, which means they might just be your ideal client.
This period of challenge needs to be seen as a time to keep our clients close and prepare our businesses for the opportunities that come once life reverts to our new normal. So use this time wisely, implement anything that will add value to your existing clients and help to attract new ones - pick low hanging fruit first and then keep hitting the list above.
If I or my team can help you to get better traction with ways to connect better with clients, then please get in contact. We're very used to working remotely and would be happy to get you moving in the right direction.