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The Virtual Event Customer Care Conundrum

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
B2B Content producer Self-employed

Paul is a seasoned (basically old) freelance B2B content producer. Through the years, he has written more than 10,000 items (blogs, news stories, white papers, case studies, press releases and...

  • Member since 2011
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  • Sep 10, 2020

The Covid 19 pandemic has been raging and dramatically reshaping the customer care landscape.  Traditional face-to-face conference interactions have been replaced by virtual events. While they offer an alternative, they have not been as effective as traditional approaches, so utilities need to adjust to the new landscape.

Many legacy, in-person events moved to virtual. In some ways, the change has been successful. Removing travel requirements and audience comfort with video conferencing presentations kept event attendance largely intact. Slightly more than half of events lost audience in the transition but 46% gained attendees, according to a survey by International Data Corp.  (IDC).

From a business standpoint, the virtual events also fared well. Downloads, revenue, and audience engagement have held steady. Nearly half of the sponsors found their virtual events less expensive to produce than in-person events.

Missing Pieces

But the infrastructure needed to facilitate marketing, sales, and support have been missing. At live events, participants engage in conversations, socializing, networking, and exchanging business cards. At virtual events, attendees try to simulate such engagements by posting to social media, interacting with other social media handles, and exchanging LinkedIn addresses.

However, the results were mixed. Nearly half of all attendees at virtual events engage in social media, according to IDC. Few event organizers actively facilitated this kind of interaction, with less than half of the events offering live chat to ask questions of speakers or for audience interaction.

So changes are needed. More, varied, and better ways to engage with consumers and businesses are an area in need of work. In addition, some technical improvements to the shows would help. Consumers have trouble with the audio quality offered and they need closed captioning.

New Solutions Emerge

Because the potential is vast, vendors have been working on platforms that connect attendees and sponsors more easily and offer them more communications flexibility. In some cases, attendees can connect and schedule appointments with sponsors, presenters, and exhibitors.

Additionally, the collection of registration and interaction data has the potential to help utilities gain more insight into consumer and business interests and needs. Virtual event platforms can collect copious amounts of attendee data that can be used later for identifying prominent customer sentiments; outlining strong and weak areas in customer care programs; and providing utilities with a blueprint for enhancing customer satisfaction.

The pandemic quickly and dramatically changed one way that utilities interacted with customers. Customers seem willing and able to engage with utilities via virtual events; however, these systems are immature and need to add new features in order to maximize their potential.

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