The business world underwent a radical transformation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work, virtual meetings, and digital communication tools became the norm. However, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly evident that face-to-face client meetings still hold a vital place in the business landscape.
In this blog, we will explore the enduring importance of in-person client meetings and why they remain essential to building strong business relationships in a post-COVID world.
Decades of client engagement have shown us that one of the most significant advantages of face-to-face meetings is building trust and rapport – especially for businesses seeking support from an actuarial consulting firm.
While virtual meetings have undoubtedly bridged geographical gaps, there’s a certain depth and authenticity that only physical interaction can provide. Meeting someone in person allows for non-verbal communication cues like body language and eye contact, both crucial for establishing trust.
Face-to-face interactions foster a more personal connection, helping all stakeholders feel heard, valued and appreciated.
Miscommunication is a common challenge in virtual meetings, often due to technical glitches or a lack of personal connection.
When occupying the same space, individuals can easily pick up on subtle cues and nuances in conversation, leading to better understanding and problem-solving. Since all clients in the insurance industry have unique business structures and needs, working relationships between a client and an actuarial consulting firm like Perr&Knight require as much collaboration and streamlined communication as possible.
In-person meetings also minimize interruptions and distractions, enabling participants to focus on the discussion at hand. For us, these working sessions often reveal a more detailed picture of our clients’ true needs, allowing us to arrive at the most effective solution even faster.
Creativity often flourishes in face-to-face settings. Brainstorming sessions, idea generation, and innovative problem-solving are all areas where in-person meetings excel. Being physically present in the same room can spark new ideas in ways that virtual meetings struggle to achieve. The energy and synergy generated during face-to-face meetings can lead to breakthrough ideas and solutions.
Business is not just about transactions – it’s also about relationships. In-person meetings provide an opportunity to get to know clients or partners personally. Sharing a meal, engaging in small talk before or after the meeting, and sharing social activities all foster bonds that go beyond business.
These personal connections can lead to more enduring and loyal relationships, which are essential for the long-term success of any venture.
Virtual meetings often lack the ability to “read the room.” Participants in online meetings might mute their microphones, turn their cameras off, or otherwise adjust their natural behavior when on camera.
Face-to-face meetings enable you to gauge the participants’ moods, reactions, and engagement levels more accurately. Particularly for sales teams, this in-person insight can prove to be invaluable. What a client doesn’t say can often yield important clues to their business needs or engagement with your company.
Equipped with this insight, your teams can adjust your approach, address concerns, and ensure everyone is on the same page. The subtle but crucial feedback is essential for making necessary adjustments and improving the meeting’s effectiveness.
In a world where most interactions have gone virtual, businesses that prioritize face-to-face meetings gain a competitive advantage. They stand out as more committed, reliable, and willing to go the extra mile to nurture relationships.
In the insurance industry, the rush to replace in-person interaction with automated tools can sometimes introduce inefficiencies that slow product development and time to market.
An effective actuarial consulting firm partner understands the importance of balancing the advantages and limitations of communication technologies. At certain junctures, in-person meetings advance projects and relationships further than any digital tools, enabling insurance businesses to achieve more, even faster.
Though the points listed above are all solid benefits for face-to-face collaboration, scheduling and coordinating in-person meetings does present some challenges.
Planning face-to-face meetings is tricky when all the necessary participants are rarely in the office simultaneously. Scheduling trips to visit multiple clients within two or three days can introduce logistical roadblocks because everyone has different working hours due to the post-COVID world of remote and hybrid working situations.
Take extra care and provide plenty of advance notice to ensure all appropriate parties are available and prepared for an in-person meeting.
Years after the initial pandemic-related global shutdown, the transportation industry has finally reached the pre-COVID cadence. But travel has become more expensive, unproductive, and inconvenient.
Staying out of town to visit a long client list over several days can be expensive. Time away from the office reduces professional productivity. Meanwhile, many families have adjusted to a new normal involving scheduling flexibility. Extended stays away from one’s home base can throw a wrench into team members’ professional and personal lives.
Finally, navigating airports with today’s flight delays and cancellations can make travel very inconvenient – a challenge remote working has seemingly solved.
We have found that in this post-COVID world and remote working environment, attending more industry-related conferences is one of the most efficient and effective ways to see many clients in one place.
Actuarial consulting firms like Perr&Knight have clients spread across the country, so individual client visits aren’t always an efficient use of time or resources. Industry conferences provide a great opportunity to “meet halfway,” enabling insurance companies to get more done in a shorter period and allowing us to meet with more clients and prospects than we could otherwise.
Setting up meetings and dinners before the conference enables clients and consultants to make the most of every minute, providing in-person opportunities to connect professionally and socially.
While virtual meetings undoubtedly have their merits, the importance of face-to-face client meetings remains as crucial as ever. In a post-COVID world, these meetings provide a unique opportunity to build trust, enhance communication, foster creativity, strengthen personal connections, and gain a competitive edge. Incorporating in-person interactions into your business strategy can create more meaningful and lasting relationships, ultimately contributing to your success in today’s evolving business landscape. Face-to-face meetings are not relics of the past – they are the cornerstone of future success.