Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Over-the-Virtual-Counter - The New Business Engagement Model

I have worked the counter at restaurants, retail shops, trade shows, and even an arcade back in the day when pinball was all the rage. And I can tell you from experience there is no better way to engage with your contacts, and cultivate rewarding relationships, than having that face to face "over-the-counter" discussion. Because they are expecting it.

Over-the-counter is such an established engagement model, we don't even realize we change our entire persona when we step into it. When you approach the counter, whether it's at a bank, an Apple store, or a chip wagon, you know the routine of back and forth and banter associated with the model. The shyness you typically have with strangers is lessened to a large degree. Your confidence goes up. You become purpose driven, and at the end of the engagement you expect a result.

For the experienced counter person, it's a slam dunk. You can do the job with one hand tied behind your back, it's such and established point of contact. And business knows this.

Business knows this is where the "rubber meets the road". That's why every counter person has been provided a pre-established script for up-selling, promoting , thanking, etc. In addition, staff regularly attend training sessions to improve their ability to engage with the customer or contact. Business spends billions every year to further the effectiveness of this point of contact.

But what about the virtual counter? Who's working that?

For most organizations, it's nobody.

For most organizations the virtual counter is nothing more than a box full of brochures and a box for visitors to drop their messages into. It's info and an email address. That's it. No back and forth. No banter. No effective engagement. A missed opportunity repeating itself over and over again, as each on-line visitor enters and leaves your site.

As a business manager, this would be the first thing you'd fix if it were a live situation. But it appears that most business are unaware of the engagement opportunities the web holds.

And it's not surprising. The over-the-counter engagement model has been around for centuries. This new Over-the-Virtual-Counter engagement opportunity is new, and the best way to approach the issue is largely uncharted territory.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emailers etc. are the first of the new tools for over-the-virtual-counter engagement. They do a reasonably good job. But they can be an overburden as the number of places to engage keeps changing and increasing as new applications are developed.

Over-the-virtual-counter engagement will get better in time. My application, for one, is built to address that fact. But software alone will not resolve this issue. Business needs to do their part.

Organizations need to realize the capacity of the web to elicit participation from their audience. They need to realize on-line engagement can be just as effective as in person engagement. They need to realize that they can engage in live interaction. They need to realize that a new engagement model is emerging, and their competition might be on to it right now.

I'm working with StartUp Ottawa right now, being tasked with cleaning up and upgrading their directory of businesses. This past weekend I went through each of the couple of hundred businesses in the directory to compile a contact list. In doing so I visited each organization's website and soon discovered the "Just Info & Email" pattern. Some had a blog, some used social media, but almost all failed to invite participation. And thus the reason for my blog posting.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    The clients can showcase their products and services by using such lists to reach out the Target Businesses or Consumers.

    Business & Consumer Database