Tips for Running a Virtual Office
For so many, working from home and running a virtual office is a new reality. Here, we share our tips on making the transition a successful one.
Ensure you have Privacy. You need to keep the confidentiality of your clients and their financial and personal affairs safe. Speaking to your clients at the kitchen table with family members in earshot and leaving their portfolio reports on the coffee table for all to see isn’t acceptable.
Take notes and document all discussions on the phone or video calls in your CRM. Treat these calls and virtual meetings exactly as you would if you were seeing any client in person. You need to take notes and document your discussions. You can record calls on some programs as well but need to ask for client permission first.
Use various forms of communication to your clients. Email isn’t enough in times like these. Give them a call or schedule a virtual meeting. Make these virtual meetings more interactive by screen sharing to show projections, financial illustrations or even a simple PowerPoint presentation.
Mass email communications. Avoid this as your primary means of communication and remember that you need to go through compliance first before you send out these types of communications.
Have a contingency plan. What happens if you become ill? You need to have a back-up plan and be prepared to be asked that same question by a client.
Keep your distance from your assistants and associate advisors. Stagger the times you are physically in the same space and avoid them entirely if at all possible. You don’t want an entire team becoming ill, who will run the office?
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TEAM. We had to bold this one! Keep in constant contact with each other, offer support, ask each other how you are coping and schedule something fun like a virtual coffee hour or happy hour after work. Be sure to come up with strategies to communicate effectively with each other. As a leader, come up with ways to motivate your team.
Have team meetings and create an agenda to work from. Make the most of your meetings, sometimes it is easy to get off track or not have a solid plan when you aren’t sitting in a boardroom together with your pad and paper at the ready. Have a specific person run each meeting who has created the agenda based on information provided by each team member for outstanding actions and to-do’s. Develop a pre and post-meeting process to follow.
Invest some time and money in proper technology. Do you sound like you are talking out of a tin can on that virtual meeting with a client? They aren’t going to be as engaged if they can’t hear you! Look at options for headsets, microphones, and other helpful tools. Make sure you have a good internet connection, and your assistants are equipped with proper equipment as well. You are judged by your ability to use your tools, whether you think you are or not.
Pay attention to your background and appearance. The person on the other end can see that messy desk or counter of dirty dishes if it’s behind or beside you. You want to make sure you look professional as well.
Make sure clients are set up on their end before a virtual meeting. If you are sending documents ahead of time; make sure you do that well in advance so they can print them off if needed. Sending an agenda and any documents in advance in a secure format is very important. Add to the agenda some tips on doing a virtual meeting and ensure they have video, a built-in or separate speaker. How many of us have done a first Zoom meeting and, we can’t see or hear each other?
Avoid virtual meetings with clients who aren’t comfortable. Feel free to delay a meeting or have your assistant do a “test run” with a client to make them feel more at ease. Online meetings can be daunting for some clients. Offer a variety of platforms if possible, whether Zoom, FaceTime or phone.
Have a practical and secure, compliant way to deal with paperwork. There are many tools out there to send and receive documentation with clients.
Every company has specific compliance regulations and requirements, and we encourage you to verify those details before installing or using any new technology.
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