Going Back to Basics: Connecting with Customers

By Phase 3
August 31, 2023



At the beginning of 2020, before the world turned upside down, we published a blog discussing what we believe was the secret to successfully connecting with customers. This "secret" seems so simple and obvious, but it is often forgotten in our world of multiple digital and traditional communication channels and the "noise" they cumulatively create. What was this secret? The simple act of listening.


Every marketing blog back then seemed to have recommendations on "how to cut through the noise.” While we certainly understood the importance of creating valuable content for our customers on all of the channels available, in that blog, we also wanted to know, "Does anyone remember how to listen?"

Here's what we had to say back then, "Everyone is so bombarded and inundated with opinions, thoughts, theories, and information in today's world, and it seems, in essence, that everyone has become scanners and skimmers, only paying attention to surface-level information and not spending enough time really listening - ourselves included."

Listening is Still the Secret    

That has not changed. If anything, digital noise has increased in the last three years, and our ability to listen has become even more crucial and challenging. As Seth S. Horowitz said in a New York Times article on The Art and Science of Listening, "Hearing, in short, is easy... But listening, really listening, is hard when potential distractions are leaping into your ears every fifty-thousandth of a second..." Active listening still helps us better assess problems, make stronger connections, and build trust with others. Listening is an art and a tool, and we should strive every day to invest in conversations with our customers and our co-workers.

The Difference is Separation Anxiety 

Today, our lives are very different at work and at home. Our relationships with customers are different. Our ability to connect is different. Between pandemic safety requirements, remote work environments, and the changing ideas of what clients need, the physical distance between us and our customers has grown. Yet, we connect on even more digital channels like Zoom and Slack. Also, there is so much more noise to overcome. We are bombarded by emails, texts, social media notifications, and more 24/7. It’s almost impossible to stay focused during digital meetings. Imagine checking email or surfing the web during an in-person client meeting. It would never happen. Yet, we’ve all given in to the distraction of our phones on video calls, so what is the difference?       

What isn't different is our desire to stay connected and serve our clients. This is an innate and necessary human need. We may be connected digitally, but we still feel disconnected because we are distracted by digital noise. Within the cacophony of dissonant work environments, we are experiencing separation anxiety.


Are You Suffering From Separation Anxiety?    

It's a Catch-22. We are all working harder to cut through the noise while creating more noise in the process. Still, there is this feeling that something is missing. You may feel like you are losing those personal connections with your customers and co-workers that used to fuel you. Suddenly, you start picturing your clients as their Teams avatar instead of their actual faces and you wonder if they are doing the same for you.       

This new virtual business environment, born out of necessity and fostered out of convenience, is causing many of us to lose touch with clients. We are spending more time being less productive for clients. Maybe you are wondering how to bridge the gap. Here's the answer.  It’s the virtual noise in the digital environment that is causing this separation anxiety.


Get Back to Basics 

We've got to get back to giving our clients and coworkers our full attention. 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. If we aren't providing excellent customer service by connecting with customers on their needs, goals, and pain points, we are also missing out on the soul-filling experience of meeting our customers where they are. Maybe it's time to get back to basics. It's time to remember the power of face-to-face conversations, even on video. It's time to stop creating more noise and really listen to what our customers and co-workers say. The best way to do that is to be completely present at that moment for that person.  

Here are some basic tips for staying present during digital meetings.

  1. Minimize Distractions: Choose a quiet and well-lit space. Turn off notifications on your devices to avoid email, text, or social media notifications.
  2. Active Listening: Pay close attention to the speaker. Nodding, smiling, and making eye contact by looking at the camera shows you're engaged.
  3. Participate: Contribute to the conversation by asking questions, sharing insights, and offering input.
  4. Turn on Your Video: Being visible on camera reminds you to be present and makes the conversation more engaging for both you and others.
  5. Take Notes: Jot down key points, action items, or ideas during the call. This not only helps you remember important details but also keeps you engaged and attentive.
  6. Limit Multi-Tasking: Make a rule to limit checking emails, browsing the internet, or working on other tasks during calls.
  7. Engage with Visual Aids: If the presenter shares slides or visuals, actively engage with them by asking questions or commenting on relevant points.
  8. Ask for Clarification: If you find yourself losing track of the conversation, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
  9. Encourage Interaction: If appropriate, encourage others to share their thoughts or provide feedback.
  10. Set Meeting Goals: Make sure you and others understand the purpose and objectives of the meeting beforehand. This helps you stay focused on the agenda and desired outcomes.

At the end of the day, both our teammates and clients want to feel that they are heard and understood. They want us to lean in and invest in what they have to say. Listening has always been a skill that takes time and effort to improve, but it's easier to demonstrate in person. It’s always worth the time and effort  to make those intentional and authentic conversations happen, especially when not in person . Don’t let the conveniences of digital innovations distract us from the power of simple human connection. With active listening and limited multi-tasking, interactions over video can be just as engaging as in-person meetings.

Phase 3 Marketing and Communications is an integrated marketing services company providing solutions from ideation to execution. Our mission is to simplify life for marketers by delivering the most-needed marketing services in-house, under one roof. For more information about our team, contact us today to schedule a discovery call.