It’s very easy to run a customer reference program sitting at your desk, writing emails and talking on the phone.
When given the opportunity to meet your customers face to face – don’t even hesitate. Just do it – even if it’s a quick hello and not a lunch or dinner meeting. Like with many other things in life, meeting someone face to face changes the relationship. It literally puts a face to the person you’ve been talking to.
I recently had the opportunity to meet a Fortune 500 customer of my company’s for an analyst briefing. In the end, I spent three hours getting to and from the meeting for what took a total of 20 minutes face to face with the customer. Sounds like a huge waste of time but now I am 100% confident that when I call that customer or email him, he’ll get back to me in minutes. In fact, I sent him an email earlier this week asking him for a phone interview so that I could write a press release on his company being a customer of my company. Within 2 minutes (120 seconds – not even enough time for me to walk to the water cooler and fill up my water bottle) he wrote back and said yes. Did I mention that he’s a director at a Fortune 500 company? That is extremely impressive. And, I have to give all the credit to the fact that I met him face to face a few weeks ago. Otherwise, what’s going to separate me from the hundreds of other emails he gets on a daily basis?
So, even if it takes all day to meet a customer which will end up being a 10 minute meeting…DO IT! The pros far outweigh the cons. The three hours I spent traveling will ultimately be made up in time I won’t have to spend chasing him later on for an interview or approvals. He knows my name and my face.
With the risk of sounding cheesy…
Roundtrip train ticket to meet customer = $15.00
Giving up half a day of work at the office = $400
Having direct access to a customer and a personal relationship with them = priceless!