Three Steps for Successful Client Engagement Moving Forward

7 months ago

Three Steps for Successful Client Engagement Moving Forward

By Will Smith, Chief Growth Officer, One Call  

When the pandemic forced businesses to pivot from in-person to virtual connection in March of 2020, no one expected Zoom meetings to become the norm. While COVID-19 was certainly concerning, at the time we couldn’t fully appreciate just how much it would affect our personal and professional lives. We figured it would get resolved and business would quickly – or worst-case scenario, eventually – return to “normal.”

After a year and a half of living in a predominantly virtual world, it is safe to say we are not returning to “normal,” or at least not the normal we once knew.

So where do we go from here? How do we successfully move forward as an industry that relied heavily on face-to-face interactions?  

Step 1: Recognize What We Had

It is important to recognize what we had prior to March 2020: everyday face-to-face interactions without concerns, questions, or hesitancy. For our team at One Call, that meant meeting in-person with clients on a regular basis, whether at conferences, in their offices for quarterly partnership reviews, or simply popping by an adjuster’s office to say hello.

The world has changed, and while we certainly don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on the past, it is important to look back to successfully move forward.

In the meantime …

Step 2: Embrace the Present

The way we communicate and engage with one another has forever changed. Today’s success is dependent upon our ability to adopt the new world of virtual interaction. Whether you love it or are starting to experience virtual fatigue, there are key benefits to virtual interactions that we more fully understand today.

Conciseness = Engagement

Even before COVID-19 made us dependent on virtual connections, we were living in a world of constant digital notifications and short-form content. In fact, Microsoft recently discovered that human attention span has dropped to just eight seconds. To keep client engagement high, it is more important than ever to keep meetings concise.

In-person meetings are often accompanied by a lot of catching up and small talk. While many of us greatly miss this interaction, its absence in a virtual setting makes virtual the perfect vehicle for delivering a concise, streamlined meeting.

Remove Geography as a Stumbling Block

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both recently stated that business travel remains about 60 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels. In addition, a recent Deloitte Insights research report showed business travel dropping by 90 percent in 2020.

Travel budgets will never be what they were before the pandemic. According to a recent survey by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, 10 percent of companies do not anticipate ever returning to pre-pandemic levels of travel and another 20 percent say it will take more than three years.

The good news is this – by adopting virtual meetings, you remove geography as a stumbling block for connecting with clients, relieve stress for colleagues who were always on the road or in the air, and shift time previously used for travel to time spent on client needs.

Step 3: Appreciate the Value of Face-to-Face Connections

We recognize what we once had, and we’ve embraced our current virtual environment. So, the question is: What do we do when we have the unencumbered option to meet again in person?  

I look to Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsch Bank, for the answer when he said, “A Facebook message will never be able to replace face-to-face interaction.”

Now that we’ve lived through both worlds, we better understand the importance, even necessity, of face-to-face connections. I believe our new normal will be a mix of both virtual and in-person, with one important change: in-person meetings will be considered highly valuable and much appreciated.

We will use our in-person time together more wisely – for collaboration on strategic initiatives, industry research, and charitable endeavors, for example. We will intently listen to one another, look to advance our companies, and collectively create a stronger, more resilient industry focused on helping people because this time around, we won’t take our time together for granted.

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