Is virtual the way forward?

Posted on 28 September 2020 | Author: Sarah Brown

COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we function not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives too. Long gone are the days when we could call in on a customer if we were in the area. So how are businesses dealing with these socially distant times and making sure they are accessible to customers? We spoke with ArcelorMittal Sheffield’s Head of Sales, Shaun Gervis to see how they are handling these strange times we find ourselves in.

“Physical customer meetings are something that are very important to us at ArcelorMittal” Shaun began. “Getting out and visiting our customers and discussing first hand their needs, their requirements, their concerns is a key driver of our sales experience as we believe physical meetings are the best way to build and maintain a strong relationship”.

But since this has not been possible, how are ArcelorMittal managing that?

“As with all businesses, the start of the lockdown period made our physical customer meetings extinct so we had to make sure we were still easily accessible to our customers” commented Shaun. Throughout the whole pandemic including the initial lock down, the sales office at ArcelorMittal has always remained open. “It was important for us that our customers could still communicate with us in their normal ways – office landline, email, mobiles, text messages and even still in some cases by fax. We therefore took the decision that our sales office would remain open under strict COVID secure measures”.

ArcelorMittal’s customer base is extremely varied, going from small local retailers, to national wholesalers. “Although the pandemic has shown a lot can be done through technology such as Teams, Skype, Zoom etc, it has also shown that many people are not ready or willing to move into a virtual world”. Shaun went on to explain, “our smaller, more traditional customers have preferred to stick to their usual ways of communicating with us, minus the physical visits, whilst many of our larger customers have embraced the technological world that is available to us and we’ve taken part in meetings and conducted training sessions with ease”.

ArcelorMittal Sheffield will continue to offer their customers the type of sales service that best suits their requirements “John and I have already re-started customer visits where they are being requested” Shaun commented, “at the plant we have strict COVID measures in place that have become part of our every day routines – temperature checks, sanitising, wearing face coverings in communal areas etc. This is now our mindset and we are confident we are able to carry out visits in a socially distant and COVID secure way”.

“We are known for our flexible approach at ArcelorMittal and COVID is no exception to that. If a customer feels more comfortable interacting in a virtual environment, we are all geared up for that. But equally, if they want to physically meet with us, they can be assured we will comply with all the necessary restrictions to keep us all safe. Health and Safety is after all our number one priority at ArcelorMittal, not just now, but always” Shaun concluded.