The way we work has changed irrevocably. In-person engagement with clients has been curtailed by the pandemic, and the majority of businesses have had to manage the transition to a remote world. At Ensono, we’ve historically focused on face-to-face engagement, as we found it more beneficial in establishing long-term relationships with clients. With this no longer possible, and the future looking likely to consist of a hybrid way of working, how can we minimize the effects of this change and make it successful?
The situation presents unique challenges. At Ensono we were well-placed internally to successfully manage the technological transition to hybrid and remote working last year. However, the process was not always as straightforward for the clients we work with. The onus is on us to ensure we are still able to communicate and collaborate as effectively in a remote setting as we were able to face-to-face. This requires a change in approach, both for how we engage with existing clients and our proposal process with potential ones. We need to be able to empathize with a client’s situation, take extra steps to make up for the lack of in-person interaction, and to ensure the transition is consistently driven by our own core values.
Empathy with current clients
The disruption caused by the pandemic has highlighted the importance of ensuring your existing client relationships are strong and secure.
The key to achieving this is empathy. A remote world means different changes for different businesses, and to cement relationships we need to be able to understand the unique challenges our clients are facing. One of our clients, a US-based beverage company, experienced radical change to its core business model almost overnight. Lockdown resulted in demand from many of its large customers drying up. However, this was mirrored by an equally sharp uptake in demand for hand sanitizer, prompting a complete change in production. Thanks to our close relationship with the client, and a deep understanding of the industry, we were able to work quickly with them to understand the problem and ensure its technology was primed to adapt to this situation.
It wasn’t just the private sector that experienced rapid change. The demands on certain elements of the public sector skyrocketed at the onset of the pandemic. One Ensono public sector client saw demand for their unemployment platform increase from 600 inquiries per month to an astonishing 70,000 per day. It was our responsibility to help the client modernize and optimize its system in order to cater for this spike in demand. The consequences of failure here could not have been higher; if the system buckled constituents could have been left even more financially vulnerable, unable to pay their bills, and potentially not able to put food on the table. At a time of intense disruption, solidifying our relationship with existing clients was essential for all involved.
New partnerships in a remote world
Engaging with prospective clients in a remote world is more about renewed focus and preparation than a revolutionary new approach. The lack of in-person meetings means we lose an important aspect of forging relationships with new clients, so this needs to be compensated for with extra effort elsewhere.
It starts from the prospect identification process. There’s little point going the extra mile if the partnership is a bad fit for all involved. Once this is established, we need a way of recreating the traditional door-opener of a face-to-face meeting in a virtual setting. Meeting remotely introduces new factors that can hinder your ability to make a great impression. In response, we need to be incredibly deliberate in our approach and meticulous in our research. Something as simple as using the correct logo in a presentation can be the incremental gain that helps establish a great working relationship. Think carefully about how you present yourself on the screen, and the way the team delivers the messaging to the prospect.
When these steps are followed, remote conversations can actually accelerate discussions with potential new partners. Chatting with someone (albeit virtually) in their own home lends a natural familiarity to the conversation, overcoming barriers and allowing us to drive home how our value proposition can help the future of their business.
For Ensono, this process is not a sales program. It is a company program that necessitates participation from the entire business. It’s this end-to-end approach that allows us to provide the requisite detail that helps forge new working relationships. You can still make a great impression remotely; it just requires greater effort and preparation in order to mitigate against the lack of in-person meetings.
Driven by values
Amongst all the change and disruption we’ve experienced over the past year, one fundamental has not changed: client engagement must always be driven by your values as a business. There is little point managing the transition to a remote world if it comes at the expense of the foundations that underpin your organization. At Ensono, the company was purpose built with long term relationships in mind. Our focus is on being more intimate, and ensuring that we deliver high quality, personalized service to every client.
Few can predict what the next source of global disruption will be, and in what way it will affect a business. The challenge of remote working we face today will likely be replaced by a new and equally as unexpected problem in the near future. I am proud of Ensono’s success over the last year, understanding our clients’ needs at a difficult time and every step of the way living our purpose as an organization. I believe such an approach leaves us well placed to tackle future challenges, whatever they may be.