This time it’s personal
The enforced lockdown caused by Covid-19 has changed how we interact with clients – for the better
The pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives, from how we live and interact with friends and family, to how we work. We’ve covered in previous blogs how businesses can help employees adapt to the new hybrid way of working – primarily by remembering that every member of staff is an individual with their own needs. This approach applies to clients too.
Pre-pandemic, client interaction was typically in a meeting room or a restaurant. While meeting face-to-face is undoubtedly the best way to build relationships, it’s a one-dimensional view of our clients.
Love or hate virtual meetings, their advantage is that they allow us an insight into our customer’s homes, which inevitably gives a broader, more personal, picture of who they are. Be it a glimpse of their books on the shelves behind them, a partner or child wandering past, a cat jumping on their desk or a cat filter on their screen*. All of these personal elements reveal a person. Not a statistic or a sales figure, but a fellow human being with their own needs.
(*If you haven’t seen the YouTube clip of a US attorney taking part in an online call disguised as a cat, take a look!)
A recent article written by Pitney Bowes’ Vice President UK/ROI country leader Ryan Higginson, gives a great account of how the lines between B2B and B2C connections are blurring.
Using the findings in a Salesforce study, Higginson says that 80 per cent of customers state that the experience they receive is as important as the company’s products and services. He urges organisations to rethink the B2B customer experience to ensure they meet clients’ expectations in a relevant, thoughtful way.
Just as you’d expect to personalise a consumer experience, apply the same practice to business transactions. Avoid a generic multi-purpose approach and instead use your data and client history to create an interaction that’s personal and relatable.
Higginson also quotes Salesforce’s findings that 65 per cent of respondents prefer to carry out simple transactions themselves online using digital tools. Indeed, Pitney Bowes has seen an increase in the number of clients using its web self-service tools.
Offering customers a self-serve option helps enhance the B2B customer package. And leadership consultancy firm McKinsey advises that 97 per cent of B2B buyers claim they’re very comfortable using a digital self-serve model to make large purchases online.
Interaction through social media has also soared during the pandemic and Higginson feels that this is here to stay. Referencing the LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020, he notes that 75 per cent of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media and 84 per cent of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions.
Social media has a dual purpose. Not only is it a perfect platform for updating clients on your services, it’s an ideal place to find out what they’re doing too. You can then use this information to tailor the experience you give them to make it more relevant to them.
It looks as though virtual meetings are here to stay. It’s a quick, cost-effective way to get a group of decision makers together, especially if overseas travel would previously be needed.
Higginson notes from the McKinsey study that 90 per cent of B2B decision makers expect the remote and digital model to remain. It’s anticipated that post-pandemic, the B2B customer experience will be a combination of face-to-face and remote interactions.
All conferences and events had to be cancelled or postponed as of March 2020. Quick thinking organisers soon realised that these could be held online.
It’s hoped that in-person B2B events will resume soon, as they’re invaluable for creating brand awareness, networking and product demos. However, hosting events online opens them up to new audiences who couldn’t otherwise attend for physical or personal reasons.
Higginson predicts that, for now, smaller in-person sessions will be supplemented with personalised virtual product demos showcasing how clients can use products and services within their own businesses.
The pandemic has impacted everyone in a different way, and it’s imperative we treat both employees and clients with sensitivity and empathy.
In the Salesforce report, 56 per cent of B2B buyers state that they’d pay more for a better customer experience but wouldn’t buy from the same company again if their experience was below expectations.
As we navigate our way out of the pandemic, the clear message is to deliver your services with a human touch and personalise the customer experience as much as possible, be it in person or online. Just remember to switch your cat filter off first!
How we can help
Here at Cognition24 we can help transform your business objectives and implement new processes that maximise your client relationships. Communication with your staff is key and it is important to adapt new ways of working that benefit the whole workforce, prioritising well being and productivity.
Contact us today and find out how our solutions can guide your business through the challenges caused by COVID-19.