In a perfect virtual world, you and your customer have your cameras on and you are able to read their body language and expressions and get a good sense of their mental and emotional state. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Customers are not always going to have their camera on—even if you encourage them too. Pressuring someone to turn their camera on is never a good idea as A) they may have a very good reason to have their camera off, and B) even if they don’t, your pressure can create embarrassment or resentment (not feelings you want your prospects to have!).
Unfortunately, recent studies on Zoom Fatigue chronicling the symptoms of prolonged video conferencing, have dramatically increased the number of customers who choose not to have their camera on during vendor calls and meetings.
While this presents a greater challenge for you, it is still possible to get a good read on your customer and improve your connection, despite your lack of visibility.
How to Connect with Customers Who Are Not on Camera:
- Brush up on your active listening skills. Remember when you used the phone for more than just texting, taking pictures, or surfing the web? The sound and tone of your customer’s voice can provide clues as to whether a customer is engaged, losing interest, or confused, sometimes more so than their actual physical presence on video!
- When your customer speaks, give them your full attention; don’t anticipate where they’re headed or start crafting your response.
- Listen not only to what your customer says, but how they say it. Every word, gesture or pause provides you with new information. For example: try saying, yes, in the following ways: warmly, impatiently, politely, patronizingly. It’s amazing how one word can have so many different meanings based on the way it is spoken. If the words don’t match the tone, did deeper. When things seem incongruent, that’s a potential problem, so don’t just brush it off.
- Check in more frequently. When people know that they are not visible they feel more freedom to engage in any number of distractions. You’ll want to break them of this notion by engaging them every two to three minutes.
- Allow for longer pauses. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to be silent after you ask a question, but you absolutely must resist the urge to fly right through those important pauses. Give your customer enough time to take in your meaning or formulate an answer to your question before forging ahead.
- Remember that you are still on video! It’s easy to forget that you are still visible when the other person(s) are not. Don’t get lulled into thinking you can ease up on your new skills. Work on maintaining eye contact with the camera.
- Act As If. Use your imagination to “see” your customer. Imagine them reacting positively when you say something good. Imagine them leaning forward with interest when you say something interesting, etc. This technique will bring out the best in you and give you a natural, conversational pace that engages your customer.
For more tips and techniques for connecting with customers whether they’re on or off camera, sign up for a free chapter of my new book, Look Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships…