One of the many things we enjoy at CookiesHQ is working with awesome local clients, but also with those in all different countries and cities. We’re lucky to have this flexibility – we can work with people all over the world; including London, Newcastle, the USA and even Lebanon! Collaborating with our clients we have never met face-to-face has actually become quite normal for us. In fact, we embrace it!
Committing to long-distance does mean there’s another layer to our client-agency relationship. It can be harder to establish and maintain solid relationships with those that we can’t physically meet face-to-face. Fortunately, we’ve never had any issues and can say that many of our remote clients have become some of our most valued.
So what’s the secret? Well, there isn’t one. However, we always follow certain processes across all our projects – whether the clients are just around the corner, or halfway across the world. This process has proved invaluable in working with people we have never met in person before.
Many of our clients know a little about us before agreeing to work together; whether it’s from reading our website and blog or through word-of-mouth. But we believe it’s important to put a name to a face. Whenever we kick off a project, we always start with a meeting to introduce the team. If the client isn’t too far from the office, we usually we do this round the table with a cup of coffee and some biscuits.
However, for those located further afield, this can be a bit of a challenge. The lack of physical interaction can pose some serious doubts for remote clients, so establishing trust is more important than ever for them. We take the steps to overcome this barrier immediately by arranging a video call to show what we all look like right from the start. This eases everyone’s concerns and makes our clients feel like they’re working with a real team made up of real people.
Be flexible & understand cultural differences
Learning to deal with cultural differences is a big challenge when collaborating with remote clients located in other countries. There are innate communication challenges of dealing through email and potential language barriers so miscommunication can be a real threat. We always take some time to learn about the cultural differences between our respective countries, being careful not to fall into the trap of stereotypes.
Whether our client is in the Middle East, New York or other time zones in between, finding the time to talk when we’re both at the office can also be challenging. We know it’s important to be flexible and adaptable with our schedule. Although it’s not always convenient for us to work late to get what our clients need on their time, it’s really appreciated when we do.
Keep everything organised & accessible
When working with remote clients, we make sure that we get them involved at all points of the process. Yes, they’re hiring us for our expertise, but they have plenty of their own. Setting up a space online where we can show them work in progress, ask for feedback, listen to their suggestions and assign tasks is imperative.
Upon project start, we create a Basecamp project for this exact reason. Having a central point to keep all files accessible at any point in time and is updated regularly, guarantees visibility for everyone involved. When our clients actually feels part of the project, their anxieties and fears are replaced by excitement and anticipation.
With remote clients, it’s important to keep them involved and updated on project progress regularly, perhaps even more so than local ones. We alway show them our work, and often. This is the best way to chip away at any client’s natural situational anxiety. We live in an age where communication is possible through dozens of different mediums, from phone calls and text messages to social media interactions and live video streaming. Each medium offers unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s tough to achieve everything we need with only one channel.
We like to vary our communication strategies. Email and Basecamp messages work well to send updates and information. Weekly video calls are arranged for back-and-forth conversations, especially since they allow for the conveyance of tone and ongoing responses. Whatever medium used, it’s important that our clients don’t felt neglected. When they see the results of our efforts, everyone inevitably feels a lot better about the relationship.
Establishing and maintaining a remote client-agency relationship can be difficult for some. At CookiesHQ, we make sure that our process suits everyone, whether they’re 3 miles away in Bristol or over the other side of the world. We never let different timezones or geographic locations get in the way of us working on some amazing projects with wonderful clients.