Businesses live or die by customer loyalty. And we have always believed the key to customer success and loyalty is engaging with customers through a combination of in-person and online meetings. But if online meetings are the only option, could client relationships, trust and loyalty suffer? This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

As the 'Growing Client Loyalty Remotely' research study from Doodle revealed, employees shouldn't let their fears of lost business dictate their behaviors and interactions with clients because customer engagement and loyalty have, in fact, grown stronger amidst the current crisis.

For instance, 65% of employees confirmed that they haven't lost any clients since making the shift to online-only meetings. Meanwhile, 44% have seen no change in client meeting attendance and 30% said their clients have cancelled meetings less frequently. But at the same time, the fear of lost business has become all-consuming for employees, with 46% of employees conducting client meetings outside of business hours in order to accommodate their clients' schedules. This research underscores that the fear of losing customer trust and loyalty, though understandable, is largely unfounded and is pushing employees to the point of exhaustion and burn out as they seek to prove their commitment and worth to clients.

Doodle surveyed more than 1,100 full-time and part-time employees in the United States across a diverse set of industries. Key findings and trends include:

  • Meeting overload is bad for employee mental health. A full week of virtual meetings leaves 38% of employees feeling exhausted, while 30% feel stressed.
  • Performance anxiety and business pressures push employees into competitive mode. 63% of employees are likely to record and re-watch their virtual meetings if it helps them become better presenters and strengthen their client relationships.
  • Noise throws online meetings off-track and leads to miscommunication. Some 52% of employees said background noise and/or poor audio quality disrupts their focus, while 23% said it leads to miscommunication with clients. In particular, talking in the background (55%) and notification alerts (20%) are the two most disruptive types of background noise.
  • Even if the future of work is remote, in-person client meetings will always be in demand. 40% of employees are less likely to meet clients virtually once the government-imposed lockdowns and social distancing rules have been lifted.

Most importantly, the study's findings demonstrate that a world in which online meetings are the only option doesn't have to spell doom for customer success and retention. It simply requires employees to be highly organized, prepare ahead of time and employ creative strategies to be more dynamic and engaging in online client meetings. Visually reinforcing key points and sharing anecdotes, for example, are highly effective ways of transforming a boring, uninspired online meeting into something that's highly engaging, valuable and memorable for clients.

"Taking steps to prepare for online client meetings, both as an organizer and as a participant, will have profound impacts on customer relationships, engagements and loyalty," says Renato Profico, CEO of Doodle. "Loyalty is a basic human trait that is hard won and the culmination of deliberate effort and wholehearted commitment. Yet, it hasn't been given the attention it deserves in the current discussions of how COVID-19 is impacting businesses. We hope this research brings the topic of customer loyalty to the forefront of remote work discussions and, in turn, inspires businesses to refocus their energies towards providing employees with the necessary training, strategies and tools to keep customers informed, engaged and loyal, no matter where the meetings take place."