This week my brother and I are attending a conference where BrightGauge is one of the vendor sponsors (we launched here two years ago). One main difference this year versus the previous two years that we've sponsored is that now we have a sizeable amount of paying customers stopping by our booth to say hello.
In our BrightGauge world, we rarely meet our customers face to face as all our leads, customers, and post customer support come via our website and online application. We use GoToMeeting to do demos with people all over the world and we use other web applications to support customers 24 hours a day…. right from our own personal computers.
Now that we're at this conference, we're putting faces to names we've spoken with 100's of times via email or phone. We've been receiving live feedback (99% positive thankfully) and getting to know these people more intimately. It has reminded me of my days at Compuquip where most of my customer interaction was face to face and where I really got to know my customers throughout years of doing business together. Though I feel a connection to my current customers because we email constantly, its truly not the same as getting to know them by meeting face to face and especially in a casual setting.
This has prompted me to think about next year doing a small roadshow around the US, UK, and Australia to get out and speak with more customers face to face. Though pricey, I bet it will pay off in customer loyalty but more importantly in keeping a true pulse on what our customers are up to in their day to day lives. That's something you can't get a feel for over email or conference calls.
PS – My other favorite part of face to face meetings is getting the "email tough guys" out from behind their emails and seeing how truly not "tough" they are in person. Never as much it seems…