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  • Jerry Phillips

The Future Looks Different Than The Past, Of Course

As a business leader you know that the future looks different than the past. Some hold on to the hope we return to the way we were doing things prior to the pandemic. I am not sure that is going to be true.

I have been talking to executives over the past couple of weeks asking questions about what they see for the future, near term and longer term. There is a consensus that email, telephone, and video conferencing will be the way we communicate with our customers as we work out of the lockdown. The way those work with the customer is still an unknown.

My focus has been to listen, ask questions, and gather thoughts. It has been a great exercise. I have two schools of thought that I want to share.

  1. What needs to happen internally?

  2. What needs to happen externally?

Video conferencing is new and not always intuitive. I was talking to my daughter who sells software for Cisco. They have done extensive training on video conferencing. If this is a mode of communication that you will use, spend the time to train your team on how to mute themselves, how to turn the video on and off, and how to recognize what is in the background of the video.

The background is important. I am not referring to some type of green screen background. I’m referring to what you have in the background such as a white board with confidential information written on it, or a bookcase that is a mess. I’ve participated in several videos recently where there are dogs barking and kids screaming. We need to be patient and forgiving as we all adjust but muting your sound when you are not speaking is a good idea. It’s also difficult to hear if the only microphone is on your computer, so an investment in a headset or a good external microphone is helpful. Moving in and out of the frame is distracting. If you need to move, stop your video. Also, looking at your smartphone and picking up text messages during a video conference, whether you are the main person speaking or not, is rude. Don’t do it.

Again, most executives believe that communication will be at a distance now more than ever before. If your team is used to making visits in person, think through what they intuitively do on those visits. That sounds simple but I believe there are things that we do in person without thinking about them. Working digitally will limit those actions. Write down what those actions are, and work to be able to compensate through great questioning skills to accomplish them intentionally. Most see multiple people on an in person visit. How do you do that via telephone or video?

Just as importantly, how does your customer want to engage? Do they enjoy telephone, email, or video? If so, how do you make your conversations impactful? It can be a great time saver for the customer and your team if you don’t need to travel. What does the customer value about your in-person meetings? How do you replicate that in a digital format?

Now is the time to accept the changes that are happening and build a strategy and a process to function in the near term and in the long term. If you would like to discuss strategy with us, please reach out and we will schedule time to speak.

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