When Bedside Manner Goes Online: The Future of Business Communication
Have you heard of the concept of ‘bedside manner’? The term hails originally from the health industry, where it referred to the personal skills that a doctor required to communicate with their patient. The term can, however, be applied in a business sense to refer to how we communicate with our customers in a transaction or a consultation. But what if ‘bedside’ manner were to turn into ‘inbox’ or ‘social media’ manner?
If you ask most business owners whether they would like to interact with their clients through online channels, their immediate answer would often be ‘No’. But in a technology rich world where consumers demand instant answers on almost any question, the old school ‘bedside only’ attitude could be causing a disconnect with clients and in turn, shooting the your business in the foot.
Business owners cannot bury their heads in the sand any longer. Our clients are online asking questions, getting advice and devouring information. We need to be a part of these interactions for a number of reasons:
Do you know where your clients are hanging out online?
What forums, platforms and websites are important to your clients? This can help you to know what quality and type of health information your clients are accessing, and the type of support they can find. There is then a great opportunity to use this knowledge to create and contribute your own content of a similar or better quality (eg forum contributions, videos, blog posts, infographics) to raise your or your business’s profile as thought leaders in that space.
Do you know what is being said about your profession online?
What do consumers think of your profession? Are you thought of as credible, mainstream and effective, or are there some cynical or negative conversations going on? Being aware of your professional reputation helps you to work out what type of content, marketing or material you need to produce in order to help consumers to be more comfortable reaching out to you.
Do you know what is being said about you online?
By being social media savvy and having the right searches in place, unsolicited feedback can be the devil you do know, rather than the one you don’t. Feedback is a part of life and you are likely to find that it is overwhelmingly positive. Responding to the occasional bad feedback is easy if you are open, honest and humble.
Do you know what your clients’ questions are as they deal with their problem?
Success in business is basically about solving people’s problems. Being involved with some of the online forums and platforms that your clients are using really helps you to identify the key questions and challenges that keep coming up for them in their situation. This in turn helps you to meet and exceed their expectations, leading to increased demand for your services, and increased goodwill about you being sent into the online world.
Businesses can no longer afford to keep their knowledge and expertise purely offline. Exploring and contributing to forums, blogs and social media channels can be a great way to understand your clients’ needs more deeply, enabling you to be a more effective, compelling and successful organisation.
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