Play: Serve clients online

In this play:

This play was written by Single Stop, one of the partners in the Social Tech Collaborative

Have you moved the work your organization usually does in-person online? Are you meeting with your clients over video conference platforms? This play focuses on tips and tricks for successfully working with your clients one-on-one virtually to deliver the supports and services you usually provide in person. Touching on areas such as choosing the right tools to use, addressing common client challenges with technology, rapport-building, sharing information and resources, and maintaining client privacy, this play is designed to support any professional holding meetings with clients online.

Best practices for this play

  • Select an appropriate platform to use consistently with clients. Whenever possible use the same platform every time you meet with a client.
  • Communicate to current and new clients that meetings will occur online.
  • Provide clients with clear instructions on how to access the platform along with the basics on how to use it successfully. Remember that many clients may not be tech-savvy and will need additional help.
  • Prepare yourself and your team to teach the use of the tool when meeting with clients.
  • Plan for a backup in case the platform does not work or the client does not have internet access.
  • Prepare your space to create a comfortable and distraction-free environment for the client.
  • Open any websites, documents, or other visuals you might use in your browser in advance of the session.
  • Ensure you are prepared to address accessibility issues. Zoom offers closed captioning, for example, to better support deaf and hard of hearing clients.
During the meeting
  • Build rapport as closely to the same way you do in-person. Your tone and body language are useful things to communicate comfort and safety to a client. For sighted clients, place your camera where you can make it appear you are looking them in the eye.
  • Utilize the same listening and communication techniques you would use in your in-person meetings. Reflective listening, motivational interviewing, and other techniques are no different over video. This helps clients you used to meet with in person feel like the only thing that has changed is the venue.
  • Screen share the notes you are taking or the form you are filling out (if applicable) to show the client you are understanding what they are saying. This can increase trust and allows the client to correct any reflections or thoughts you might be taking down.
  • Screen share any forms you are helping the client complete.
  • Allow the client to record the meeting if that is helpful to them, or record it and send the recording afterward.
  • Schedule any follow-ups with the client before you sign off. Confirm they got any meeting invites you send. Turn off screen sharing before you open your calendar to protect the privacy of other clients.
Regarding privacy
  • Show client know your conversation is private, use your camera to give a quick span of the space to show them no one is listening off-camera.
  • If you require consent for any portion of the meeting you can use a record function to get it verbally, or you could use a platform such as DocuSign to obtain consent. Online survey tools could also be used if it is made clear that by submitting the answers to the survey are an indication of consent.
  • Close out any items related to other clients before screen sharing to ensure you don’t show someone else’s information accidentally.
  • Encrypt emails sent to a client that include any forms, recordings, documents, or other items.


Related categories

Remote Interviews Virtual assistance


We encourage feedback, comments, and contributions to the Social Tech Playbook. Do you have experience with this play that you can share with your colleagues in the social services sector? We’d love to hear from you.

How to provide feedback