Conversations and coffees with clients

Over the last few weeks, we have kept in touch with a variety of our clients even when we weren’t currently working on projects for them.  We wanted to hear how they were, how they, their colleagues and their businesses were faring.

As all the conversations, our virtual coffee breaks, were informal and casual, we aren’t going to directly quote people or their brands, however we thought we would pull together some of the key themes …

  1. From millions to nothing – overnight
    Some businesses have had to deal with some or all of their business just falling off a cliff. It is frightening and unsettling. For the larger clients it is seen as a major but hopefully short-term cessation, but for some of the smaller ones it may be the end of part, or indeed all of their business. There is a lot of sadness just under the surface about colleagues who been furloughed and more sorrow about people who have been ‘let go’.
  2. All together now
    Rapid changes, with different departments collaborating together in ways not previously done or even imagined, to re-engineer their business; to find new ways to market; to accelerate plans; to change and fix supply chains; to work to help get products out the doors. There have also been other benefits – it’s forced them to streamline processes and made them realize that making decisions without all the information isn’t the end of the world.
  3. Together apart
    For clients who have been working from home, the frequently used headline of “Together apart” seems to be true. Far from remote working decreasing a sense of unity and purpose, it has for many actually increased their sense of togetherness. It will however be interesting to see what happens when some of them return to the office for some of the time. Will they all still use Teams/Zoom and be as naturally inclusive and aligned or will there be more distance created?
  4. Brand love and more
    The relationships with people, pets, customers, clients, family, and friends have all changed in many ways, but a consistently emerging theme was how many of these relationships are now seen as even more important than before. Many of clients are working on ways to make sure they stay close to their customers, using or creating panels. Interestingly and encouragingly for consultancies, we’ve found that when they have found or had time to talk they have really valued our chats and a coffee, no hard sell, not even a soft one but a person to person connection.
  5. Happy now
    A number of clients have seen (I was going to say “unprecedented”, but promised myself I’m not going to roll-out that over-used expression) unexpected, unseasonal rises in their immediate business and have desperately been trying to meet that demand while at the same time worrying what will happen things return to something like a new normal.
  6. All things bright and digital
    If some of our clients were not online before, most of those are now. Teleconferencing however you choose to do it and with whom is a new normal and working better than many expected (thanks to the humour and mutual acceptance of the trails of tribulations of technology and family interruptions). Remote interviewing, creative consumer panels and streamed group discussions have blossomed. Social media is more sociable than ever.
  7. Seeing the positives
    Most have also found some benefits in working from, time with their children, a closer observation of nature, the cleaner air

As we British are apt to say, it will be an interesting time …

By: Giles Lury

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