l grew up in the ’70s watching The Jetsons, but I never thought you would be able to see someone when you talk to them on the telephone. One indication that that “future” technology is now here: We recently secured a project by meeting and being selected by our London-based client using Skype online video calling.
So what am I going to do differently with a remote client? Practically nothing. Here’s why. We’re still human beings. We need connection, compassion, and joy.
We try to keep these needs in mind during every interaction with a client. We call instead of sending an email. We hand-write notes to thank clients or we send an article of interest or wish them well in recovery. The project team meets on site weekly to check in, support, acknowledge, and ask questions. Technology has its place — we use it to write a spreadsheet or schedule — but we deliver information in person.
For this particular out-of-town client, we set the groundwork in all our digital correspondence by making sure our word selection, storytelling, format, and layout accurately captured our company. Spending time on this early outlay of information meant that the Skype interview served simply to confirm our company culture and personality fit.
Our continued communication during the project will require deeper intent in connecting and expressing compassion. Maybe I’ll take an extra minute to close out an email with a warm anecdote. We’ll set up the site office with a chair designated for the Skype camera as if the client were sitting in the room with us. We will photograph the site and write daily logs as always, but maybe we’ll throw in a picture of one of the trade partners on site that day to create a sense of connection and personality.
Technology won’t replace our desire to connect with our clients; in fact, it might make us more aware of new practices to put in place with those clients of ours who are right here in town. —Allison Iantosca is a partner at F.H. Perry Builder, a Boston-area custom builder focused on building trust, dreams, and relationships. firstname.lastname@example.org