In today’s world of Zoom, Slack, Jira, etc. (check The Most Common Online Collaboration Tools), it is easy to workshop with clients remotely as great tools are available. And you might start to think face-to-face sessions are no longer needed, or it’s a waste of time. But shall this make us abandon in-person workshops?
A QUICK DEFINITION OF CLIENT WORKSHOPS
Client workshops are meetings that bring together people from different teams involved in a particular project to engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject. They can take both in-house meetings and run remotely.
In this article, we will look into both workshop advantages separately and why both ways should be taken into consideration when it comes to the way of connecting with clients. Followed up by a short testimonial report by one person who has gained experience in all types of client meetings already.
HERE ARE THE PROS OF CONDUCTING WORKSHOPS FACE-TO-FACE
Face-to-face sessions are important for building a strong relationship with clients.
Meeting your customer in person, in the 21st-century - where the internet is dominating, the time is limited, and the new work world is full of online communication tools - does not only demonstrate that you value their time and business but also shows that they are important to you, and the topic to be discussed is worth your attention. Because face-to-face discussion is more personal, clients will be able to connect with you as a genuine person, which is uncommon in remote communication.
Face-to-face sessions are the best choice when building trust with clients.
Did you know that clients who have a strong emotional bond with a brand have a 90% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 35%? (Check the source).
Clients will trust people or a company they personally know. If we talked in person, and you would get to know another person online, who would you trust more? Sure, you will figure out what I am talking about from the answers you got. But the first impression you make during the encounter is a critical aspect in determining worthiness: In face-to-face sessions, a client can read everything from your tire to your tone of voice to the hardness of your handshake, all of these aspects give room for your client to know you.
Face-to-face workshops allow for more clearance communication, especially if your client’s primary language is different from yours. This will allow both sides to observe the facts and observe each other’s honest reactions, by reading gestures for example. It’s adding to your credibility when your client sees how words and actions match up, which is mostly misinterpreted in online sessions.
HERE ARE THE PROS OF CONDUCTING WORKSHOPS REMOTELY
People can join from around the world, bringing unique perspectives.
Virtual clients workshops are more affordable to everyone who will be involved in the project to be discussed, regardless of whether they are joining from their home or anywhere around the world. This enhances participation for those who may be unable to travel, due to a variety of factors such as illness, financial constraints, or physical limitations, and can be done more often. Well-planned remote workshops don't simply work, they can also produce a unique type of magic that you won't find in person.
People aren’t as shy as you think.
Big voices can drown out little ones in groups, which often limits a workshop’s potential. We’ve noticed that this is less of a problem in virtual collaborations. With the computer screen as a shield, people feel protected and more open to sharing ideas (just ask internet trolls). Check the source
WHY BOTH REMOTE AND FACE-TO-FACE CLIENTS WORKSHOPS SHOULD BE USED?
I am guessing that you read the above part well, if not you better do so - because there are all the answers to this question ;-). Both workshops are important and necessary for project success. Yes, we are in a remote world where you can’t meet clients any time, but after having understood the benefits of both, it is up to you to choose when and what kind of clients workshop you should use according to the situation, and the benefits you want to get out of it.
And now let’s share the personal experience of our Senior Backend Developer Regis when he met our client in Hamburg the very first time after having worked six months in a remote setup.
Regis is one of the Software Developers working for our entity in Rwanda. In October last year, he went to Germany joined by our freelancer Aaron, who took over the project lead for the client in March. Both spent intense two weeks in Hamburg together with the client, finalizing the prototype as well as further developing the overall project roadmap, and supporting the onboarding process of new software developers joining the client company in Hamburg.
Let’s learn more about Regis’ trip:
“On the first day hearing that we were going to have a face-to-face workshop with the client's IT team, in Hamburg, I couldn’t understand why we had to go there, while we can easily do it online by connecting with the team as usual.
But reaching there, I am happy that we did. I came to understand that, although the idea of arranging face-to-face workshops with clients might look time-consuming and demanding, the benefits from this session are also invaluable. Not only that they can contribute to more effective collaboration, but these sessions also have an important impact on the overall success of the project.
And as a developer supporting the onboarding process of new Software Developers joining the team, I found out that relationship building is an essential part of onboarding. I learned that there are a lot of reasons why face-to-face meetings are important. I'm not saying we shouldn't use tools like Meet or Zoom; in fact, I do. But, especially in the early phases of a relationship, when you're getting to know each other, I believe we should never fully abandon face-to-face meetings.”
Briefly, client workshops bring together people who represent different teams involved in a particular project. Whether run remotely or face-to-face, client workshops are necessary; not only for the project’s success itself but also for growing the sense of togetherness.
And as Regis said, “The true benefits of personal workshopping with clients are on the emotional side”, client workshops help establish the bonds required for successful collaboration over time.