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Some questions about building virtual relationships

There are two things happening next week that I’m really excited about. Walker is hosting several of our clients for our Walker Fall Forum. And, we are offering this event live via streaming video to clients who are unable to attend in-person.

As we prepare for this in-person and virtual event, it is clear that there are numerous tools for sharing content virtually. In fact, I’m hard pressed to come up with a reason why someone would need to meet in-person to simply share content. If you can think of one, please let us know.

The real challenge with conducting business virtually isn’t content sharing. It is building relationships. How do you replicate the small talk that occurs while sitting next to someone at a conference or the more intimate conversation that takes place over dinner?

In an earlier blog titled, "Are travel restrictions impacting our relationships with customers?" I talk about how tools like Cisco Telepresence and Virtual Worlds help professionals connect with each other virtually. I suggest that the tools are available to build relationships virtually, but it is our challenge to use them effectively.

I truly believe this and stats like "1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media," make it hard to refute.

But, after spending several weeks preparing for Walker’s in-person and virtual event, I have some questions that I hope to explore:

1- Does it take longer to build relationships virtually? If so, what implications does this have on our customer, colleague, vendor, and partner relationships?
2- When putting on an event that is both in-person and virtual, is it possible to build relationships with the virtual audience too? If so, how?

As business activities continue to become more remote and travel restrictions stay in-tact, we owe it to our customers to try these new tools for not only sharing content, but also building strong and trustworthy relationships.

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 9/24/2009.

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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