Building trust and personal connections in the Low Touch Economy

The last few months were not easy for any professional who, in normal times, relies on being close with their customer. E.g. Sales representatives, fundraisers, recruiters... and still are, reinventing how to do business. We collected plenty of feedback from different industries. The following list can give some inspiration on how to create more valuable interactions.

The biggest problem at a glance.

In normal times, businesses rely on high-touch interactions with clients in order to create high-value. Due to the crisis and health restrictions that are swinging up and down, this isn’t possible for a while.

After being thrown in the bottom left corner, many businesses found some kind of workaround to restart their activities, although there is an upper limit on how close new interaction can be. For some this new way of working doesn’t create enough value.

These organizations are now gradually re-designing their business model. Shifting to mostly digital and remote operating models is often the way out. A new low-touch offering is needed to create new high-value interactions.

Instead of sticking to an abstract framework, let’s offer a couple of hands-on practical tips to go forward in the next few months.

How to (re)build trust?

Personalised messaging, at scale.

The list of tools to help you communicate in a digital era is infinite. But focus on those that don’t settle for an anonymous chatbot. We’re not 2018 anymore. Go for a mixed approach, human & machine.

MeetAlfred helps to set up Linkedin communication campaigns for those active in a B2B environment. A tool like this will automatically invite people to join your network. Based on certain triggers, semi-personalized messages can be sent a couple of days later. At any time, a real person can step in and take over the messaging flow.

(Scary) Personalised visuals.

In your campaigns, you want to use photos of people that relate to the target audience. Instead of turning to an extensive photo database, you could approach this challenge in a new way.

Recent tech makes it possible to use virtual models that can be tweaked to your wishes. Alternatively, models can be generated on the fly. Deepfake technology can generate endless uniques faces. Very soon these services will be built in the regular communication tools.

thispersondoesnotexist.com generates a new face for every refresh, to demonstrate the potential of this new technology. Rosebud.ai goes one step further. This is one of the first companies who turned this tech into a commercial offering.

Be at least as professional as the average teenager.

Budget is limited today, but that’s no excuse to stick to a low-quality communication format. Just look at what some teenagers are able to pull off on TikTok or streaming platforms like Twitch. While some of you are still relying on chin-framed zoom calls and PPT-attachments, the next-generation community builders have built their mini-home-studios. Decent webcams, light setups, and video/audio mixing tools are quickly setting the bar for others.

We can debate about the brand name, but mmhmm.app is onto something. The service uses a virtual cam that connects with Skype, Zoom, or any other conferencing tool. Instantly you can merge slideshow with your video stream, change scenes, and so on. Expect a lot more similar tools in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, traditional video editing tools are being challenged by new entrants. Descript is a noticeable example. It pulls an audio transcript from your video. As a user, you can just edit this text as a word document to remove specific words and even change the sequence of paragraphs. Auto-magically, the original video will be edited to follow your text edit. The audio-only version even replicates your voice so you can add or replace words you never said in the original recording.

Be extra-open and transparent

If you want to be seen as trustworthy, try to be transparent about your internal operations. Face-to-face interactions might be difficult, so there is a risk of losing that personal connection. What you share is up to you. Some may even provide an inside view into their private lives. Working-from-home with video and kids walking around is a good start. Others will prefer to share more details about their own business models.

Buffer.com remains one of the leading examples here. With a public salary dashboard and realtime tracking of revenue numbers, they show what can be done. Other services like Kiva are creating reports to show the failed and successful loan repayments.

Conclusion

Not everything can be replaced via digital channels. (E.g. Virtual conferences are rarely a decent substitute for offline networking.) Conducting a sales meeting via video is efficient, but to your customer, it’s just not the same as waking up extra early and spending a day in traffic to meet in-person. There is value in this physical investment of time and “sacrifice” that can mean the difference between a lost sale or a fruitful, long-standing business relationship.

There is good news, however. Globally, businesses are experimenting with new formats to build trust and create meaningful remote connections. The best experiments will be copied between industries, businesses will adapt new ways to create high value interactions, and these changes may have a meaningful impact on future business models well beyond this unforeseen period of crisis.

We hope this outlined some key points of consideration, and will help you refine the way your industry merges virtual world tech, while keeping that “personal” connection. Let us know what worked for you!

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