Virtual meetings are a convenient way to work directly with your customers while improving and building a relationship. There are now all kinds of services and platforms that make it possible to hold such meetings. Many people, however, make certain mistakes that make such meetings less efficient than they could be. Let’s look at the biggest mistakes to avoid when running a virtual meeting with a customer.
Lack of Preparation
Like any meeting, a virtual meeting requires a certain amount of preparation. If you’re bringing people together with only a vague idea of what you want to cover, the meeting is likely to be unfocused. It’s best to start with an agenda that lists the points you want to cover. You can expect some divergence from your agenda as tangents and other issues come up. However, preparing an agenda helps to keep the meeting on point. To create a useful agenda, think about the main objectives you want to accomplish with this meeting.
Holding the Meeting at the Wrong Time
If everyone is in the same time zone, it’s usually possible to schedule the meeting at a mutually convenient time. One of the advantages of virtual meetings, however, is that you can easily communicate with customers in different parts of the world. When doing this, make sure that the meeting is being held at a reasonable hour in everyone’s time zone. If it’s very early in the morning or late at night for some people, they probably won’t be feeling very alert or receptive.
Not Being Prepared for Technical Glitches
Even the most reliable technology sometimes fails. Microphones, video cameras and programs such as PowerPoint can stop working at the least convenient times. You might experience a power failure that disrupts the meeting. While you can’t anticipate or prevent every possible technological problem, you can help reduce the chaos such problems cause. If you have a backup plan if something goes wrong, you can often salvage the meeting. For example, if your usual video conferencing software crashes you could agree ahead of time to use Skype or Google Hangouts instead. At the very least, make sure that you have everyone's phone number handy.
Confusion and Miscommunication
This often occurs in virtual meetings that have multiple participants who don’t know each other well. It’s easy to lose track of people’s names and voices. If the meeting is voice-only, this is especially common. To remedy this, take a few minutes at the beginning to make sure that all participants state their names. If more than two people are at the meeting, it’s helpful to state your name before starting to talk. You can keep things clear in your mind by writing down important information about people prior to the meeting. For example, if you must address a group of partners who are working on a deal or people who have won employee recognition awards, make sure that you have all this information in front of you during the meeting.
Not Giving the Meeting Your Full Attention
Because virtual meetings are so convenient, it can be tempting to multitask while in the middle of one. You might be trying to text someone on your mobile phone or looking at your tablet while taking part in a conference call. While people even do these things at live meetings nowadays, it’s even more tempting during virtual ones. If you’re distracted, you’re likely to miss key points. People, and especially customers, won't appreciate it if you aren't paying attention when they're talking. Give your full attention to the meeting and postpone other tasks until afterwards.
By avoiding these mistakes, you can alleviate unnecessary frustration in your client relationships. With a little extra effort and attention to detail, you’ll see an increase in trust between you and your customers as well as have more time in your meetings to make small talk, and get to know your client on a more personal level.
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