Is the interpersonal part of Commercial Card program management dead? In today’s efficiency-driven business world, the ability to access information any time we want or need it is the gold standard, but it has resulted in greatly diminished face-to-face, or voice-to-voice phone, interaction. There are likely program managers who have never had a meeting or call with a significant percentage of their cardholders because training and communications are exclusively electronic. In the end, how effective is this? Interestingly, 83% of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels, according to the 11th annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey. Considering this, surely our fellow humans in the workplace want some level of direct connections. Following is a closer look at the electronic dilemma and what we can do about it.
The Electronic Dilemma
We are constantly bombarded with emails and texts. In the olden days, the business world operated on a set schedule (e.g., 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM). Employers adhered to the schedule and non-business communications during that time were the exception. Today, there are little to no boundaries. Electronic communications with colleagues, clients, family, and friends intermingle, occurring on an ongoing basis regardless of what time it is. If we are always pulled in many different directions, even if it is “only” a 20-second text or a five-minute email here and there, how much of an online training course do we retain? Studies and science have proven that, despite what we may think, multitasking is not efficient. (See a related past blog post about reorganizing and managing your time.)
Resurrecting Human Interaction
With your training initiatives and broader communications, you can re-establish human connections to benefit your program.
There is no doubt that online/recorded training offers numerous advantages, including a more consistent message than what might occur with live training, so I’m not suggesting anyone abandon it. However, knowing there are many distractions throughout the day—most of which we cannot control—I do endorse supplementing online training and quizzes when doable.
Consider scheduling a 15-minute meeting (or, for geographically dispersed programs, a 15-minute call) with a new cardholder a couple days after they complete training. The purpose would be to:
- officially introduce yourself to establish a connection
- stress key points
- share specifics about card use within their department (e.g., who their primary vendors are), which program-wide online training does not typically do
- answer any questions they have
While no one wants more meetings added to their calendars (that is, no one wants the hour or longer variety where agendas are vague and little gets accomplished), a short one can work wonders. Imagine fewer cardholder issues and confusion, and improved compliance. Besides, if an employee knows they will have a post-training meeting, they may focus more on learning the material (and maybe even silence their mobile phone).
At a Broader Level
Take advantage of opportunities to simply say hello to cardholders and ask how things are going. I remember having the urge to walk the other way whenever I saw a “challenging” cardholder in the cafeteria, but I forced myself to actually stop and make small talk. By showing an interest in cardholders and managers, and making yourself accessible, you are more likely to gain their cooperation and program buy-in.
About the Author
Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more…
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