The coronavirus pandemic has precipitated a new world order, where technology has enabled the majority in many countries to pivot to remote working and learning almost overnight. Whilst technology has helped business to continue, human behavior does not change as quickly – meaning our new normal has come with some challenges.
If you ever experienced “Zoom fatigue”, or felt drained after a lengthy video conference call, you are not alone. A study by global recruiter Robert Half found that nearly four in 10 workers have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic. That’s not surprising when research has shown that video conferencing requires more focus than face-to-face engagement, which means we are working harder in our meetings.
While communications using multi-channel platforms provides opportunities for social selling like never before, people now have a broad array of new digital channels to choose from – and to be targeted on. And the variety and velocity of communication can be daunting.
The question for businesses now is: how do you cut through the noise and fatigue for the most effective customer engagement?
1. Empower the customer with flexibility and choices
Not all relationships are created equal. At the outset, it’s helpful to acknowledge there are some differences between nurturing longstanding relationships compared with building new ones from scratch. Existing relationships already come with a degree of trust and credibility, which can form a communication ‘shorthand’ based on mutual understanding. New relationships have not had sufficient tenure for this to develop, and can be challenging to establish in the absence of face-to-face communication.
One approach I’ve found helpful with clients is discussing with them how to communicate, in what forum and when. By proactively creating an agreed schedule of meetings and people peering, we provide clarity in terms of time commitments and expected outcomes. This means creating a schedule of meetings which detail attendees from both sides, agreed time and date, agenda and meeting platform.
It’s important to be flexible and investigate what best suits the client. While we’ve successfully facilitated the majority of these meetings via Microsoft Teams, paying heed to the client’s preferred method for ad-hoc communication often increases your chance of getting a timely response. For example, some customers I know prefer to be contacted using instant messaging such as WhatsApp or SMS, over email for simple correspondence.
2. The three ‘T’s of customer engagement: Targeted, Tailored and Timely
We use social media platforms such as LinkedIn to target prospects with simple, clear and concise messaging. It’s important to research who you are targeting and clearly articulate the value you bring. If there’s interest, follow up quickly and set expectations to build credibility. This is a simple but effective way to get results. We’ve found success in proactively targeting customers who are known to be on a digitisation journey, by sharing our capabilities and experience relevant to their sector, and inviting them for further discussions.
3. The importance of human connection
It’s difficult to predict exactly how our post-Covid world will look, when business travel will resume and the appetite to take it up when it does. However, what’s clear from the past year is that while how we communicate might change, the ingredients for effective client engagement haven’t. Respectful, clear and tailored communication works in any language or culture.
In an increasingly digital world, human connection is more important than ever. The trick is for businesses to use digital tools to enhance our human connection, not diminish it.