“The one thing I’ve personally learned is you’ve got to get ahead of the curve, don’t try to deny it or put your head in the sand, and wish for the best. These are the times when a culture and an organization gets tested.” – Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage
We’re social animals, and we crave person-to-person contact. That’s just one reason why this new world of video calls and virtual conferences feels so alien. But now that we’re here, let’s talk about how to make the most of it.
The paradox of 2020 is that it has distanced us from each other when we need each other most. The businesses that figure out how to keep meaningful connections with their customers will come out on top.
Drop the introductory small talk of “How are things?” For many people, things are not “fine,” and they are not “well.”
If you ask how your customer is doing, mean it. I’ve seen many people ending their emails with “Stay safe,” or “Hang in there.” You’ll be tailoring your approach to your own customers’ experiences, but shift from expecting a certain level of “fine” to expecting a baseline of low-level anxiety.
When was the last time you checked in with your customers? I’m not referring to payment reminders, product or service announcements, or general newsletters. When was the last time you checked in with one of them just to see how things were going?
Your business relationships should be professional but they should never be “just” business. You perform a service for your customer, but you’re both people. Treat them accordingly.
Send them an email asking how they’re doing in the context of the service you provide. Avoid the temptation to cut and paste; keep it personalized.
Now is the time to talk to our customers like people. If they only hear from you when there’s an invoice to pay or when you want to sell them something, you’re in danger of becoming another line item to cut from their list of expenses.
Navigating video calls, especially with a lot of people, is an art form. Here are the dos and don’ts for painless video conferencing:
COVID-19 has imposed a whole new way of working and, as we acclimate, we need to master a whole new approach to workplace etiquette and interaction. Learning to manage the social distance is key, and this challenge might just be the opportunity we needed to deepen connections with our teams and our customers.