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Issue 36

Long distance relationships can really work!

Florin Roman
Delivery Manager @ Yonder
MANAGEMENT

Long distance relationships can be very successful. Especially in our line of business where companies from two different regions join and each brings a specific quality to the partnership. A relationship, whether personal or business, in-house or nearshore, takes a bit of effort. In order to create good long-lasting partnerships, we apply simple common sense to make sure that everybody is aligned and expectations are clear. Yet these common rules are quite often overlooked.

Communicate. One of the most important aspects in a long lasting relationship with your customer is communication. The better and more frequent the communication is between you and your client, the more honest and open the relationship will become. And it will be easier to keep your client happy and solve issues in a reasonable amount of time.

No hidden agendas. Hidden agendas will lead to misunderstanding and ultimately to mistrust and neither partner will benefit. Discuss each idea, no matter if it is good or bad. If it is good, it will be appreciated, otherwise it will help you to understand the aspects that you have not been aware of.

Be proactive. Keep your clients proactively informed on any updates. Avoid the situation where they have to ask for information. It assures all involved on the openness and collaborative nature of both parties.

Email etiquette. When you receive an email, it is a good practice to respond in a timely manner. And if you can't answer the request the same day, then acknowledge the receipt of the email and let the sender know when he or she can expect a full reply. Furthermore, email communication can be misconstrued especially during stressful periods if the sender and receiver do not know each other well. So pick up the phone from time to time and talk person to person.

Summarize and recap. No matter how trivial a meeting or a call seems, once you get out of a meeting there will be next steps. Summarize these so that you align with the other person. Even if there are no next steps, but just a recap of the discussion, it is good to email this so that everybody stays on the same page.  

Be your client. Get to know the client's business, understand how their business works, the dynamics of their market, and the challenges they face. You do not need to be an expert, but you do need to speak the same language and have an understanding of what keeps your client awake at night.

Be patient. Building relationships takes time. Listen to your client. Do not try to push all the ideas at once in the beginning, take small steps, discuss point by point and adapt your language and discussion according to the reactions and behavior of your respondent.

Have integrity. If you do what you say you will do, each and every time, then you will be top of the mind when the client is looking for new services. Do not be afraid to admit when you make a mistake, but instead apologize, learn, share how you plan to fix it and make sure that you do not repeat the same mistake twice. Not keeping commitments will lead to a lack of integrity and you will never develop a trusted relationship with your client. Instead, you might end up in losing that specific customer.

Focus on quality. To be good at what you do, you need to have the right people in the right place, proper processes and never settle for second best or 'just good enough'. Constantly aim to improve and bring your expertise to the next level. If you provide quality services, then your clients will come back to you. And, more importantly, they will recommend you in their own network, thus providing you with a good opportunity for business growth.

Partnership. Develop a partnership relation. This goes beyond the individual project development. If a client sees that you are in it for the long-haul and that you are truly motivated to help then they will start to see you as more than just a simple supplier. Of course becoming partners implies more than what is mentioned here, however, I will leave this subject for another time.

Be human. Meet face to face. Having long distance communication might not always prove that you indeed understand your client and can help him in his challenges. That is why it is important, especially at the beginning of the relationship, to meet each other face to face, lock yourself in a room and align the expectations. This is a good opportunity to better understand the client›s business, his challenges and goals for the coming period by which you can better serve his/her needs. However, business discussions will not always help in knowing what is on another person›s mind - we can admit that there are always things that not outspoken, especially in the beginning - and if you want to better understand your ‹audience› then have a coffee or a beer together in an informal setting, like a restaurant or a pub .

Long distance relationships can really be the best. Each partner brings their own skill set to the equation and the combination makes for a powerful partnership. And as there is a distance, in our case, nearshoring distance, people are very aware that these common principles are important. The nature of a type of relationship may vary, from personal to business, yet the same rules apply: never take the other for granted and communication is essential.

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