Is Technology Affecting Customer Loyalty?
Posted by Guest Author on March 14, 2013 in Business Technology [ 0 Comments ]
In the high tech world we live in, we have become too comfortable scheduling conference calls and web meetings with customers rather than meeting face to face.
When I started my business in 1990, we did not have the internet, email, or web meetings. We had to perform all of our consulting in person, and occasionally, on the phone.
Our client relationships were solid, and our meetings had more substance. What have we lost by eliminating the personal interaction that we used to have?
Technology and Our Interactions
With the evolution of technology, we have become accustomed to fast and impersonal meetings. Sometimes we even sell our services to customers who never meet us in person. Our limited interactions include LinkedIn, Go-to-meeting, and long trails of email correspondence.
So what have we really lost by taking advantage of technology and foregoing the regular, personal meetings we used to have? I argue that we have lost a part of our customer’s loyalty, as well as our ability to develop the enduring relationships that defined business when I started out.
Clients today are much more apt to switch service providers every few years, shop around, and view our services as commodities if we are not “in their face”, constantly reminding them of the extra value that we offer.
I believe that the answer to this challenging customer loyalty and satisfaction issue is to bring the human element back into the relationship, and meet with clients face-to-face whenever possible. While this takes more effort, and may force you out onto the road more often, you will find that you learn more, and reconnect with clients in a way that will keep you and your services on the top of their minds.
Reconnecting with Customers
The best way to do this is to schedule regular time each week and month for visits. If you have customers in different geographic areas, schedule trips a couple times a year.
Related: The Lost Art of Business Etiquette
At first, it may be difficult to get your busy clients to stop what they’re doing and sit down with you for a couple hours a few times a year. Here are a few ideas that may entice them to respond to your requests:
- Develop an idea about how they can get more business and present it to them
- Recognize them for an achievement and offer to take them to a celebratory lunch or dinner
- Send an article about an issue that is plaguing the industry and tell them you have some ideas about how to deal with it
- Ask them for advice with a new service you are considering launching
- Offer to tell them about a recent success with another firm
- Try to find out some “inside information” about one of their clients and share it with them
- Offer to do an “annual checkup” at no charge so that you can ensure you continue to add value
- Offer to introduce them to someone that they might want to meet (do your homework)
- Set up an executive lunch or dinner with several clients in their area
Don’t destroy the benefits of your efforts by failing to follow up afterwards. Make sure you take great notes with specific action items, send an email to document your meeting, and follow through with any commitments. This alone will ensure your client’s loyalty as so few people do a great job of following up these days. You will regain all of the trust and respect that years of technology infused relationships have diminished.
Bio: June R. Jewell has over 24 years of business management software consulting experience, and unsurpassed knowledge of the industry. She is the founder and CEO of Acuity Business Solutions, a consulting firm that works with project-based professional services firms to support business profitability through web-based enterprise management technology.