There’s no question that technology has changed how most businesses conduct everyday procedures. holding a transcontinental meeting no longer requires a lengthy trip to distance locations because participants can simply use video conferencing software to speak with each other. However, there is concern that recent innovations are not helping business relationships. Some executives and consumers believe that the increasing dependence on technology is hurting many partnerships.
There are conflicting points of view on this issue. Below is a look at how technology both helps and hurts communication between businesses and clients.
Some professionals believe that there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. According to a survey conducted by Embassy Suites, 97 percent of respondents believe direct interactions are critical for maintaining and cultivating relationships. Joel Widzer, a business travel strategist, believes that people can become closer by coming together instead of being in separate locations.
“We connect with our clients better when we are able to meet in person, which certainly makes it worth taking that business trip on a regular basis,” Widzer said in a statement.
There are advantages to face-to-face meetings. Embassy Suites found that it would take multiple video conferences and long email chains to replace a single in-person discussion. When clients and workers are in the same room, they can quickly communicate thoughts and feelings that are difficult to share through digital channels.
Additionally, it’s easier to form a personal connection by meeting face to face with a client or partner. Email and other options can be impersonal and make a business seem like a faceless organization. By putting representatives in the same rooms as customers, you can show that your enterprise can use a personal touch for any situation.
Alternatively, technology can help businesses stay in contact with far-flung clients and partners. Some companies don’t have the resources or staff to undertake dozens of trips every year for face-to-face meetings. Traveling expenses can quickly eat into a business’ budget, and video conferencing software is a cost-effective alternative.
Technology also allows companies to overcome logistical hurdles when dealing with clients. For instance, Alena Tsimis, a managing partner of I Imagine Studios, uses a web program called Basecamp to submit work to clients in different time zones.
“Our clients know this and it can work to their advantage. We can submit a project into Basecamp at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and the job can be done by the next morning,” Tsimis told the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
A happy medium
There will always be a place for face-to-face meetings, but technology has proven it can be effective when used in moderation. Companies should ensure that they’re using every available resource to strengthen relationships with their clients.
Using in-person conferences and digital tools can help you improve communication with customers and partners. If you want to help employees improve their client relations skills, consider offering onsite training. During advanced courses, staff members will learn how to handle sensitive issues through every channel to ensure that customers are always satisfied.
Scott Murray is the Social Learning Evangelist for TrainUp.com, the web’s largest career marketplace. He is also a contributor to the Training Insights Blog, a series of blogs dedicated to career and professional development.