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Client communication in the New Normal: experiences of a digital agency

Lisa works at as Executive Officer & Project Manager and is involved in various cross-departmental initiatives in her role as a consultant to the management. Although the crisis is currently challenging many companies in a completely unexpected way, it also holds potential for new methods and approaches to stay close even in times of physical isolation. She spoke with our Managing Director Markus Dietrich about how to deal successfully with customers during a global pandemic.

Lisa: Hi Markus! Thanks for taking the time. I would like to talk to you about how communication and cooperation with our customers has changed in the face of the crisis. But first a quick look at ourselves: How did we manage the switch to 100% home office?

Markus: We were very fortunate that a strong digital infrastructure already existed within Since we regularly work in cross-locational teams, we are quite experienced in working remotely. The corresponding tools and processes are therefore very familiar to us. But even though we are experienced in handling these digital tools, we are facing a few technical issues now and then. Instead of the typical “Good Morning” in the office, we’ve been saying “Hello? Can you hear me?”, “Do you see my screen?”, “You are on mute!” a lot more often lately. Plus, we’ve also been learning new things. We quickly realised: Camera on. It enables a more personal contact and communication with colleagues and clients, even from home office to home office.

Lisa: And how do we ensure that the intense exchange with our customers continues despite the physical separation?

Markus: For us it is crucial to still involve our clients in all the ongoing processes and alignments, even if this has to be done virtually. We are currently sharing our experiences and best practices, helping with the technological set-up of tools like Webex, Slack or Mural and enabling our customers to use new methods of virtual collaboration and communication. But all this beyond the hype and blind actionism. Not because of technology, but simply because it enables exchange on a regular basis. By this means we could assure our clients, that projects are progressing as planned and running smoothly.

Lisa: And what about new clients  

Markus: The cancellation of all the planned events initially caused us a big question mark. Trade fairs, meet-ups and generally joint partner events are normally the perfect opportunity for us to meet new contacts and engage in direct exchange. Currently, the challenge is to stand out from the crowd, because communication has of course mainly been shifted to various online channels. Probably there is no right way here. I guess we are all in the same boat with our competitors and simply have to do our best – maybe this proves that personal contact cant be replaced completely. 

Lisa: So what alternative paths had to be explored here?

From the very beginning, we have been testing a lot and tried out new formats, also with our partners and clients: joint success stories, webinars with a participation of our technology partners and, of course, initiatives within our IBM iX network. It helps enormously to bundle forces and focus on partnerships instead of practicing an elbow mentality. To convey content and personality online already requires more time and creativity for preparation and implementation. So why not use synergies? For example, our IBM iX Digital Talks are currently running, in which we also cover SAP CX and Adobe topics. For us this is a great opportunity to share our expertise virtually.

Lisa: Have there been any opportunities emerging alongside all the challenges of recent months?

Markus: Absolutely. The crisis is painfully exposing the weaknesses of most of the companies. However, the situation also offers the chance to find solutions and initiate the digital transformation that is postponed all too often. Even in times of tight budgets, investments in the digitisation of business are essential for survival and therefore enormously relevant in the long term. By looking forward and with the right partners at hand, the crisis can even be used to emerge stronger than before. It has never been more obvious than now: the business of the future is digital and the future is now. With the right momentum, long-winded decisions and operational changes can be implemented faster. We are currently seeing this in politics as well. To support this impulse, we have developed the so-called Strategy Sprint in the past weeks to enable our clients to react to central strategic issues within a few days.

Lisa: And what is your conclusion about the experiences of the last weeks? 

Markus: #knowledgesharing #exploringnewpaths #digitalbusiness

Author Lisa Altvater

Executive Officer & Project Manager, part of IBM iX