Podcast, Remote Working

The Secret to Building Long-lasting Relationships Remotely – Jon Stern – Retention Rocket

In this episode of The human behind the screen we’ll have the opportunity to meet Jon Stern; who is the VP of client experience at Retention Rocket and has over 20 years of experience as a technology executive. He will be sharing with us everything he’s learned throughout years in the process of adaptation that comes when we decide to change lifestyles from working on a physical business office to a remote work environment and the benefits and challenges that will arise with said changes. 

Jon Stern was born in Michigan and grew up working in technology. His father had an IT consulting company, where he worked as an IT guy for many years, before starting his own IT consulting company when he moved out to San Diego, California. From there, he jumped to a few different technology startups, where he got into more sales and operations, leadership roles, but always had some sort of technology component to it. He had actually started at Retention Rocket a few months after they had kicked off. “I began as a consultant, just kind of meet the team and see you know, that they shared the vision and all that type of stuff.” - Recalls Jon. 

He shares with us a personal experience about how the remote tools of communication, like zoom and others virtual meeting platforms, allowed him to communicate with his now-wife when she was living in another country while they were getting to know each other

Adjusting to Remote Work Environments

For Jon, it was actually a pretty natural adjustment. He believes that a lot of the work that can be done offline can also be done online now with the right tools at hand. Jon would often try to set up Zoom calls with clients, to create a friendlier and warmer first impression, which “ allowed us to really build a little bit better connection that you could have just over the phone or over email or text...”. He recommends always reaching out to encourage customers to join on a video call. “So we can see each other, and maybe share a laugh, and just kind of take some of the stuff that you can do offline, online now, because the tools are so much better”. 

There are definitely some challenges in the transition from an office to a more flexible remote environment and working only office when it's strictly required. One of the biggest challenges lies on setting those boundaries “...in a startup, we're all working so hard - you could work a little bit too much and burnout and not give your family the time that they deserve because you're working on a big project or have a tight deadline or something like that, so it's a challenge to set the real boundaries and make sure that you are really present with your family when you're with them, and that you're concentrating on your work when you're not.” According to Jon, the biggest hurdle is being able to balance family time and the work time and making sure that even though we work all the time our work doesn't negatively impact our family life in a detrimental way.

Educating Clients for Remote Tools and Relations 

Setting the expectations and boundaries in any remote relationship is really important. Availability, ease of access and readiness are double-edged factors that require a lot of day-to-day micromanagement. Building the right expectations for your remote relations requires a lot of focus and balance, “But basically, my customers understand that they're going to be able to get a hold of me in a pinch. So if I have something else going on in my life, I'm going to get back to them as soon as possible. And really, it's just, you kind of set those expectations by doing the work and like showing them, Hey, you know, maybe John's not going to be here in our office, but he's always going to be there for us if we need him to be”.

Keeping your Online Presence Consistent

We talk about the importance to introduce our personal life if we decide to integrate it as a part of our strategy, to make genuine bonds with our clients and to keep the transparency intact and own the trust of our customers, “...I'm not trying to hide that I'm working from home or get all dressed up in the zoom if I'm not going to be doing that for an office or something like that. But I think that you can really if the customer knows what's going on with your life, and you really build a good connection that you can end up having a very strong bond over tools online without ever meeting in person”. 

It's difficult to build trust online and in person, and the best way to build that trust is to be consistent with what is being said and what is being done. For example; If our job constantly requires approval or meeting deadlines for our clients - it’s imperative to make sure we meet our word with results and actions, and if mistakes are made be as upfront and clean in communicating it as possible. A nice way to connect with a client would be to order them a delivery meal, while you have a zoom meeting and in that way share a brunch, lunch and even dinner together, which you can do if you were in person. This trick really helps to break the ice with people and share a laugh or share a drink or a meal or whatever it might be. And that really helps build the relationship.

Listen to the Podcast Here!