Look Your Customer In the Eyes

Although we live in a world that everyone is now online (hiding behind email), we can never lose the art of meeting with our clients face to face.  This is a personal belief of mine that was instrumental in helping build our MSP practice.  As a baseline, I think everyone should be surveying their clients on a regular basis to give them a channel to communicate with you.  Most PSA tools offer surveying features and if not you can always tap into a specific survey tool.  Here was my approach to the personal touch:

At Compuquip, it took us over a year but we eventually had this process dialed in.  I had a two person team responsible for all client services issues and managing the team that responded to client issues, Alex Marrero and Lin Dai Quant.  Alex was my Client Services Manager and Lin Dai my Service Desk Manager.  Between the two of them they would visit each of our 40 managed services clients 2 to 3 times per year.  The goal was quarterly but some scheduling conflict always got in the way.

Each visit had to meet certain criteria which included:

  • Meeting was to be scheduled in advance and confirmed by the client via a calendar invite (no pop-in visits)
  • Meetings should be scheduled first thing in the morning or, if not, right after lunch
  • Bring some gift that multiple people can enjoy, typically bagels in the morning and pastries in the afternoon
  • Prior to the visit, meet internally with each of our team members involved with the account to identify any open issues or items to follow up on
  • Bring a list of currently open tickets/issues to review with the client
  • Summarize each meeting and send to the customer via email

When I shared our approach with others, I would hear the following comments:

  • I don’t have time to visit every client
  • That sounds very expensive to spend the money and use a resource for this
  • Why visit a client that doesn’t have any issues

I found those to simply be excuses because once implemented this we saw a dramatic increase in our customer satisfaction and customer engagement.  So here are some tips to help make this effective for you:

Set A Schedule – If you don’t have the client visits on a formal schedule things will slip, other priorities will get in the way.  You’ll always find an excuse to delay the visit.

Set A Budget – We had a budget of $75/client visit and I let Alex & Lin figure out how to best spend the cash.  That may sound like a lot, but if you can save one client from leaving because you caught something early it’s worth it.  Not only that, you probably spend a lot more than that on the client anyways, this is just more structured.

Hold One Person Accountable – One person needs to ultimately be responsible for this and be held accountable for the visits.  This should be part of their incentive or day to day job description.

Announce It Ahead Of Time – All of these meetings had to be scheduled in advance so the customer is expecting our arrival.  But we used to take it one step further and announce this when we were in the negotiation process.  We would tell our prospects that they would have a consistent point of contact that would visit their team regularly to check in on how “our team was performing”.  That was a huge benefit to going with us.

Bring Something For the End Users – We went with bagels, but bring something that everyone can enjoy.  By doing so, you’ll get more people to attend the meeting and also get a chance to get more feedback from the end users.

Bring a Notepad & LISTEN – This is probably stating the obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.  The person who goes onsite is there to LISTEN.  You want them engaging with the end users and listening for potential issues that are hanging, future projects, or even positive feedback to share with your team.

Document the Meeting - Take the extra time to document what was discovered during the meeting and what you plan to do to address any issues.  You should use this as a “check point” in your relationship with the client.  By documenting the items from the meeting, you show the client that this is important and you value their time and their business.

We always felt that if you don’t spend time visiting your clients you risk the chance someone else visiting them instead.  It’s always cheaper to keep an existing client versus having to replace them!