Making it personal: How to uphold relationships in a virtual world

The world’s workforce is facing a range of scenarios as leaders try to decide which type of setup is right for their employees. Has everyone already returned to an office, or will some remain virtual forever? Are some companies taking the hybrid approach, while others are still undecided entirely? There is no shortage of questions as the state of in-person work remains in flux. One business principle remains true – no matter what your office situation looks like at the moment, customer relationships can’t be forsaken. So how do you uphold those relationships and ensure human interaction takes place when it’s critical for your business? Here are three tips:

  1. Strengthen customer service by re-training employees and providing them with updated key messages, complete with the autonomy to address customer needs with the highest level of service. Just like we say a website is a company’s digital front door, frontline employees are the people who can make customers feel like they are No. 1 through any kind of interaction. If all virtual, ensure your team is prepared and able to handle customer interactions in such a way that makes them feel there is a caring person on the other end who wants to help. Allow employees to write their own correspondence but with approved key messages and add personal identifiers, such as a first name or even a photo of your team member, to emails or website chat widgets. It’s time to do away with the generic “info@email” where the response appears robotic and a customer can’t tell who they are communicating with!
  2. As mentioned above, imagery is a great way to add a personal touch that adds human connection to your communication pieces. If you haven’t delved into updating photos of your team or creating video content, now is the time. More often, consumers want to know and see who is behind the brand. It’s not exactly a new practice either. But if you mostly operated in person prior to 2020 and recently decided to remain virtual, longtime customers are going to begin wondering when they are going to see their favorite rep in person again. Be sure to be clear about your new setup and spell out how you will uphold the relationship virtually. Throughout these communication efforts, adding recent photos and tidbits on what your team has been up to while virtual will help.
  3. Finally, while this isn’t a new practice either, audience segmentation is important in a virtual world. Oftentimes, email or mailing lists aren’t segmented and companies take a blind and blanket approach to communication tactics. While this might work in some sectors where direct mail performs well, blasting irrelevant messages to customers is a turnoff. When you tailor your communication to a specific audience and add in those tips mentioned above, you are telling a customer that you know them and are drawing a human connection. Use your mailing list to your advantage.   

If your company is still on the fence about returning in person, don’t delay in bringing your communication strategy up to the standards consumers expect today. These three tips will stand the test of time no matter where employees ultimately land – virtual or in person.