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Are travel restrictions impacting our relationships with customers?

In today’s economic climate, where flat is considered the new growth, companies are taking aggressive steps to reduce the bottom line. One of the items being cut is travel related expenses. As a customer advocate it’s natural to wonder if these travel restrictions are impacting our strategic customer relationships.

If someone had asked me a couple years ago if we can build meaningful relationships virtually, my answer would have been something like, "Face-2-face interactions are key to establishing and building trust and trust is key to any meaningful relationship."

Fast forward to today and it’s hard not to notice all of the communication advancements, with social media tools like Facebook becoming mainstream and mobility keeping people connected at all times.

This simple two-by-two matrix from Seth Godin plots various communication tools on dimensions of time and the quality of exchange.

Notice how Cisco Telepresence (a virtual meeting and collaboration tool) is hovering around the only two in-person methods (one-on-one coach and live seminar). Another virtual tool that is missing is virtual worlds, which I’d place in a similar location as Cisco Telepresence.

The advancement of communication and technology tools has enabled us to connect without a shake of the hand. But, are they effective in building trust? Well, that is up to us and how we choose to use them.

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 8/11/2009.

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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