As Chief Marketing Officer, you are uniquely positioned to take customer feedback and make far-reaching change within the company. Perhaps more than any executive-level position, you have to listen the hardest to your customers. You need to deeply understand them. To deeply understand, you have to get personal.
It’s easy to lose sight of the person behind the numbers, graphs, and charts. That’s why in-person time reminds us of the simple fact that we’re people doing business with other people.
Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a 10-person operation, meeting with your customers face-to-face is invaluable for building personal connections with them.
The next time you reach for the phone instead of scheduling an in-person meeting with your client, consider these four reasons why CMOs should meet with their customers in person:
1. Demonstrate appreciation
Customer service and satisfaction often fall under the purview of the Chief Marketing Officer. What better way to demonstrate your commitment to customer service than by spending time with your customers face-to-face?
But isn’t that what salespeople are for? Salespeople don’t hold as many cards as the CMO. The title alone has weight and conveys a sense of importance that the salesperson, no matter how good they are, can’t. And as the person driving strategy around customer service, there’s nothing better than sitting down with customers and hearing more about their needs.
All executives are busy, which makes the impact of an in-person visit more meaningful. It tells your customer that they matter. Customers who feel heard and appreciated develop loyalty to your brand and company, which helps build personal connections.
2. Be proactive
All too often, C-suites call in-person meetings when something’s gone wrong or when there’s a crisis. How about paying a visit to your customer for nothing more than the opportunity to get to know them and their company a little better? This is exactly the kind of “surprise and delight” moment that makes customers feel valued and that will set you apart.
People crave emotional connections. They want to be understood and feel important. Talking with clients when times are good allows you to have open conversations about what’s working and what you could be doing better.
When you’re in crisis-mode, tunnel-vision sets in. You focus on a single problem rather than the big picture. So take the time to learn more about their company through an in-person visit, and you may even discover other business problems your company can help solve.
3. Gain new insights
One major benefit to CMOs spending in-person time with customers is the potential to learn something new—something you wouldn’t have learned over an email.
This could be a myriad of things:
- A physical tour of the workspace might spark new understandings of workflows or ideas for additional ways your products can serve the customer.
- Meeting in person allows for more casual chit-chat, which brings you closer with your customer. Throughout your time together, you’ll develop a new understanding or appreciation for them.
- Face-to-face discussions can yield deeper insight into the customer’s actual needs and pain points. In person, you have the flexibility to whiteboard a problem or idea. Something that can’t be achieved well virtually.
Finally, getting out from behind your desk allows you to network with your customers and their executives. Building rapport with them can lead to future partnerships and opportunities you wouldn’t have come across.
While phone conversations and video chats achieve some of these objectives, in-person time adds another level of appreciation that’d otherwise be missed. With so many competing priorities and channels to tune into, it’s easy to forget that sometimes sitting down with someone is the best thing for business.
The benefits you gain from in-person time with customers make the time-commitment worth it. It’s easy to send an email or have a quick phone call. But with ease comes shallowness and missed opportunity.
For the most part, it’s not easy or convenient to travel to your customer. But that’s what will make you stand out in your customer’s eyes. They will feel heard, valued, and more connected because the CMO took the time to shake their hand, observe their operations, and get to know them better.