Rethinking Customer Engagement During the Social-Distancing Era

The handshake has been a gesture of goodwill for centuries, with particular significance in business relationships. In fact, there is considerable research showing that a handshake is an essential element of deal-making, engendering increased levels of trust and cooperation. Many companies actually conduct handshake training for new employees.

That’s all changed, at least temporarily. COVID-19 has killed the handshake along with many other forms of face-to-face contact for the time being. With social distancing and remote work the new norm, we’re all looking for new ways to make personal connections with customers, potential customers and business associates.

As a result, companies are placing increased emphasis on a variety of digital engagement technologies. Social media platforms, virtual collaboration tools, video conferencing solutions, customer portals and cloud-based contact centers are among the digital touchpoints that companies are using to maintain relationships.

Digital engagement can be as simple as conducting regular text chats with customers or as complex as using advanced analytics to conduct customer journey mapping. The idea is to use a variety of digital tools to interact with customers, forging a connection that strengthens the relationship. Here are some of the tools you should consider:

  • Team collaboration platforms such as Mitel’s MiCollab allow you to engage customers in a multitude of ways, including voice, video, web conferencing, chat and screen sharing. With these tools, you can quickly spin up a virtual meeting space where you can talk, share files and brainstorm with clients.
  • Video conferencing solutions, whether standalone tools or part of a unified communications platform, provide a close substitute for face-to-face meetings by allowing participants to make eye contact and read body language, expressions and other non-verbal cues for a more personal experience.
  • Project management tools provide a great forum for maintaining regular contact with customers. These web-based platforms allow you to set up ongoing discussions, centralized calendars and to-do lists to keep customers informed and engaged.
  • Customer journey analytics help ensure you are providing a good customer experience. These tools gather data about customer interactions across all communication channels and contact points to create a chronological timeline of engagement. When sources of friction are identified, organizations can take corrective actions to improve the customer experience.
  • Sentiment analytic solutions use natural language processing, text analysis and other artificial intelligence disciplines to monitor and evaluate not only what customers are saying, but also the tone of their voice. They can also be used to extract subjective information from text records, survey responses and social media posts.
  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions allow you to run your contact center operations in the cloud, giving work-from-home agents the tools they need to help customers. The tightly integrated architecture ensures that calls, emails, web chats and social media interactions can be routed using a single queue so that agents can respond to customers faster and more consistently.

IPC has broad expertise with all of these technologies. Our Customer Experience Consulting practice was designed to help clients evaluate the full spectrum of digital engagement solutions. Our consultants can work with you to assess your needs and objectives and develop a strategy that leverages advanced communications, analytics and automated tools to improve outcomes for you and your customers.

Many conventional social norms and business etiquette practices have been upended due to the coronavirus, but that only makes it more important to establish a meaningful and trusting relationship with your customers. Digital engagement technologies may lack the intimacy of a good, old-fashioned handshake, but they can still help establish a personal connection.