Hybrid Customer Closeness – Zero effort ways to keep close to customers
It’s been just over two years since the government recommended a gradual return to office working, yet in that two years the number of people working from home has continued to rise. The Office for National Statistics reports that almost 10 million of us Brits now choose to work in a hybrid capacity – so as our separate home and work bubbles merge in a way they never have before, how do we stay connected to the world: colleagues, customers and changing trends?
Since the pandemic businesses have been operating in an arguably more ‘hybrid’ way than ever before – stores, branches and offices have closed and more often than not the first point of contact for customers is a chat-‘bot’ on the business’ website, rather than making a journey to speak to someone in person. So, as the people inside businesses seem to be separating themselves further from customers, it’s up to them to ensure that customers' needs and wants are still top of mind.
At TCCC, we adapted to the sudden constraints of the Covid era by continuing our consumer projects; running them over Zoom as opposed to in-person. It soon became clear that this wasn’t just a ‘plan B’ approach to Closeness, but rather the key to unlocking wider-reaching insight. Instead of talking to a group of customers from the same area, we now had the ability to speak to customers from Plymouth to Perth, without anybody having to go anywhere. With lockdown long gone, we are still running many Closeness sessions on a hybrid basis.
Why the enduring popularity? They fit into colleagues’ scheduled hybrid working – whether they are at their head office or their home office, they can still tune in to that week’s Customer Closeness event, and don’t have to miss out on crucial insight. We’ve hosted events with up to 300 colleagues in attendance – prior to Covid, gathering 300 colleagues to have a shared customer experience would have been an annual event, but now it can happen on a Wednesday morning from the comfort of their home desk! Studies on hybrid working show that it can loosen bonds between colleagues and their company’s culture. Online Closeness events are a great example of how colleagues can work hybrid, but still share experiences which bring to life strategic priorities and their relevance to customers’ lives.
In terms of customers, we have found that they love taking part over Zoom. It’s easier for them to feel comfortable sharing their personal, real-life experiences (especially if they’re joining from their sofa, still in their pyjamas!), and seeing 300 colleague names on a ‘Zoom attendee list’ is far less daunting than seeing 300 blurry faces in an auditorium. It also gives us the opportunity to speak to customers in their own environment -– a depth interview with the MD of a building company recently saw him joining from his van – it doesn’t get more real than that!
We know that there’s nothing quite like meeting customers face to face and hearing from them all in one room, and we are so pleased that businesses are once again meeting customers in person, but if you love the benefits of a hybrid approach to working, then you’ll love the benefits of a hybrid approach to Customer Closeness!
Get in touch to find out more…