7 ways to build an effective customer retention plan

As the world copes with the Coronavirus pandemic, our thoughts are with the medical professionals who are working around the clock to help those affected.

We know that the sudden setup of virtual offices and the ability to work from home has led to a change in the attitudes around how and where people should work, and started a debate on whether or not sticking to the traditional nine-to-five office hours influences higher productivity.

Here are a few interesting statistics on remote working:

  • 84% of professionals prefer coffee shops and cafes as the second most preferred location to work from.[Buffer]
  • 40% of global companies are hybrid, meaning they offer the choice of working in the office and remotely to their employees. [OwlLabs]
  • The remote workforce has increased by 140% since 2005. [Google Workplace Analytics]

Until the COVID-19 outbreak, working remotely was an alien concept for many companies. Today, they are changing the way they function. Honestly, by setting up a remote team, companies can not only gain talented professionals across geographies but also save on office overhead expenses.

However, being concerned about having less control over how their remote employees work is inevitable, especially for those who are completely new to the idea of going remote.

It doesn’t have to be like that. All it really requires is a change of mindset; a focus on what is being accomplished within a given timescale as opposed to between 9am and 5.30pm. The modus operandi of the remote staff should be secondary.

At least, that is how TLBM functions, and it works! If you are currently struggling with the ‘work from home’ concept, here are seven tips for working remotely that you and your staff should follow:

1. Set up a remote work policy

A 2018 Upwork report states 57% of managers don’t have the necessary policies in place for remote workers, which is a bummer because that affects the output in the long run. Also, often companies fall into the trap of thinking that staff working remotely is not always working.

Therefore, it is imperative to outline expectations and responsibilities beforehand so that you and your staff are on the same page – irrespective of how you work. Here are two instances:

  • Specify how a staff member’s productivity levels will be measured, which could be on the basis of the time spent on a project, number of client interactions, amount of monthly billings, and more.
  • When it comes to taking breaks, clarify your expectations. For example: implement a specific rule on response time.

If you work with a huge number of people, make sure you apply the policy for everyone. It will help you in managing them better from home.

2. Start with smaller tasks and build up

One way to ease the process of working from home for your staff is by delegating smaller tasks to them at first. For instance, if you have a copywriter in your team, you can start by assigning them small website blurbs or social media captions. Gradually, you can assign longer pieces of content and then ultimately hand over the whole content creation process to them.

The same tactic can be applied for your accounting staff. Get them to divide the complicated jobs into smaller tasks. Maybe assign them to finish updating books for ABC clients first? It is important for everyone to ease into the process of working from home. So, start small.

3. Treat your remote staff normally

Because your staff members are not physically around, this makes it all the more important for you to ensure they behave very much like a team!

Therefore, have one-on-one phone calls or video chats with them to discuss their schedule, resolve any queries they may have and listen to their suggestions. You decide the frequency: bi-weekly works fine in most cases. But you could also have a daily scrum meeting if you want.

4. Stay in touch via video conference

Times are tough, and it is natural for your team to feel isolated and alone because they don’t get to be around their colleagues. You can remedy this by having video conferences at least once a week to keep things more personal.

Choose a mutually suitable time for this and use the opportunity to clarify any doubts your staff may have or to discuss any project that requires both of you to collaborate closely.

If you plan to make an announcement (regarding a project or client), connect with your staff on Skype, Slack or Zoom. At TLBM, we have weekly calls on Thursday mornings, and we all look forward to them.

5. Trust your remote team

Managers often make the mistake of supervising their remote teams too much. Since you have hired your staff for their experience and expertise, you need to trust them to do their job without heavy monitoring. That way, they will trust you back.

Don’t micromanage their work. Don’t message or call them every hour asking them what they are doing. Let them do their job – just how they would do in office.

6. Establish a personal rapport

Ensure that your conversations with your staff are not just about work. Ask after their own lives, how they are coping with self-quarantine, and send best wishes to them on important days like birthdays and festivals. You could also try to connect on a common ground such as a shared hobby or mutual friends.

At least once a week, have virtual meet-ups where everyone logs into Skype and connects with the others. Try to keep such meet-ups informal and use it as an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other better.

Initiatives like these will help you and your team form genuine bonds regardless of where you are physically located. By taking your conversations outside the purely professional space, you and your staff can feel more connected and work together more comfortably.

7. Recognise wherever deserved

It is essential that you publicly appreciate your staff for the excellent work they are doing in times like these. Share shout-outs on public Slack channels or send a congratulatory email to everyone mentioning your team member by name. You can also send them gifts online to show your appreciation. Spread positivity whenever you can.

Over to you

Although many people are being forced to work from home today, the benefits of working remotely are far too many, especially for business owners. For starters, you get to avoid the costs of maintaining an office space.

Your staff can finish off more tasks, promptly and utilise the extra time on high-end jobs (such as strategy-making) or have virtual brainstorming sessions with their colleagues. More importantly, by working remotely, everyone stays safe.

So, how are you managing your staff from home? We would love to hear your best advice on working from home.