November 16, 2016
Being from Ireland, I deal with time zones and the issues that they cause in my personal life, including talking with family and friends or watching sports from home. Since I have begun working at Hanapin, time zone issues have slowly crept into my work life. I am based in Spokane, WA which is on Pacific Time and I have clients spread across cities in 4 different time zones, including:
- San Francisco
There are many things that can go wrong or impact how things run smoothly. Examples include different daylight savings times, agreeing on the time in the right time zone, and remembering that “end of day” is different for each of those locations.
With the ability to work with clients all over the world, we now have new complexities in how we serve and manage our clientele and partners. We can overcome these obstacles by using simple techniques that will help you interact and deal with different stakeholders across time zones.
Whenever I introduce myself to a client, one of the first things I tell them is where I am based, and what my hours look like in their time zone. This sets the expectation from the start. By being upfront, it helps avoid any confusion as to when we should schedule calls, how early they should expect a response via email, or what is the latest they should expect a deliverable to be completed.
Schedule Your Day
Due to the vast range of time zones I deal with, I try to commit to a regular system of working with the sun. In other words, my furthest client away will usually get my attention first in the morning. For example, I begin work at 7am PST, for my client based in London, it is already 3pm. By checking their accounts and working on their project first, this allows me some time to reach out to the client if I need anything or have any questions from them. It also allows me time to respond quickly to any emails I received overnight. I slowly move my way back across the pond and through the states until I have completed everything I have needed to.
When dealing with multiple time zones, you try to set as many expectations that are physically possible, but sometimes it is important to be flexible and make sure that things such as calls and or deliverables can be made to fit into the client’s schedule. To use my London based client as an example, our weekly call is usually at 7AM every Tuesday, right when I get into my office. In order to a) be fully prepared and b) guarantee I am not late, I start work 30 mins earlier. Some client managers will work an extra hour the night before because of how early the call is, but the point is still the same. Make sure that you adjust your schedule and be flexible to the client’s needs without sacrificing quality.
When you think about your management of that national or international client, use these steps as a foundation for building strong and healthy client relationships to successfully grow their accounts.