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Building customer relations with less time and money

01 Nov 08

You need only glance at the front few pages of major newspapers to know the global financial sector is in crisis. In reaction to this, and falling stock markets everywhere, companies are scrambling for ways to tighten their collective belts.

Strategies including the limiting of expense accounts, cutting back on corporate travel, and discontinuing participation in industry trade shows and exhibitions are all being used to protect profit margins.

But if they axe these important ways of building and maintaining client and channel relationships, organisations may just be shooting their financial futures in the foot. 

Given how expensive it can be to create new relationships, your organisation’s revenue stream depends enormously on the strength of good relationships with existing customers and channel partners. Although your products may remain strong, your company will begin to lose those important points of differentiation unique to the relationships you have worked hard to build if your brand begins to recede from people’s minds.  As a result, your clients and partners may lose their sense of loyalty to your brand and products.

So, if simply cutting costs associated with client/channel relationship building isn’t the way to go, perhaps the key to weathering the current economic turmoil is to work and spend smarter.

One inexpensive tool that can become a major element of your relationship-building strategy is online or web conferencing. To date, it has been relatively under-utilised.

Web conferencing can be extended from its present usages to supplement a variety of client-contact scenarios.  It can deliver valuable productivity gains by reducing unproductive and costly travel time to and from meetings and conferences. Web conferencing allows your organisation to host everything from daily or weekly management meetings, and formal events such as new product launches, media conferences or training sessions, and for your staff to collaborate online on group presentations.  The ability to record and replay meetings provides a valuable reference for parties who missed the initial event, allowing them to catch up and be briefed in their own time.

Being able to hold work group meetings using the internet allows management direction and advice to be delivered faster and more consistently. Not only does the organisation save on time and costs related to travel, it also reduces its carbon footprint.

Project management meetings

Project management meetings between your organisation and your client/channel partners’ project teams can easily be co-ordinated online, without the need for time intensive travel, meeting room set up and minute taking.

Decisions can be exchanged quickly and consistently, resulting in higher productivity. No matter where they are located, colleagues, clients and partners can collectively share, clarify and execute management direction and ideas on the spot. This helps reduce work errors arising from communication gaps, and helps you to exceed clients’ project-delivery expectations. 

Training sessions

The need to bring many individuals together at the one time and location, with the right access to computers and software, can make onsite training costly and difficult to arrange.  Running these sessions online, through web-conferencing software, can allow trainers to be far more efficient and effective. They can provide on-screen presentations, product demonstrations, and allow for questions to be recorded and answered – all while participants sit in front of their own computers.

Also, session sizes are no longer limited by your training room’s capacity. Those participants unable to attend at the specified date or time can login when it’s more convenient and replay the session.

These are just some examples of the type of relationship-building activities that can be undertaken using web-conferencing solutions – and there’s a wide variety of solutions currently available.  Many have been customised specifically for the business needs and activities of different disciplines within an organisation.

If your organisation isn’t already using this cost-saving, increasingly efficient technology to improve your relationships with clients and partners, and to deliver internal services and messaging, get your team together to consider the productivity, financial and environmental benefits you may be missing out on.  

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