Customer meetings are probably the most important business-to-customer interaction that takes place during the relationship life-cycle. Customers have limited time for meetings, and thus businesses must capitalize on the opportunity to convey the right amount and type of information, foster strategic relationship building, and set the stage for the next set of desired actions.
Prepping for a Face-to-Face Customer Meeting
How businesses prep for and then manage these meetings is crucial. Much has been written on the subject. Tips and strategies include everything from doing your homework before the meeting, to dressing and acting the part, to setting an agenda and using it to guide the conversation. And with the influx of millennials in the workforce (expected to comprise half of the workforce within the next year), the dynamics of managing customer relationships changes, including in-person meetings.
One aspect of face-to-face meetings not discussed often enough is the meeting space. Many customer meetings may take place in locations where businesses do not have office space. And in other instances, businesses may simply not have an office location that provides an experience commensurate with what they want to impart to a prospect or customer.
Yet insufficient thought is all-too-often put into the selection of a location for a meeting. Unless a public space is considered (typically fraught with innumerable issues), private hotel meeting spaces are frequently seen as an option. However, hotel space is expensive and moreover is usually unconducive for business meetings, lacking the accouterments needed for a productive meeting and presenting unwanted distractions such as outside noise.
8 Things that Can Go Wrong
Davinci has spent the past decade helping companies ranging from small business to large enterprises to host highly successful customer meetings through our Meeting Rooms offering. In aggregate, we have hosted tens of thousands of prospect and customer meetings since our founding almost a decade ago.
As a result, we know what it takes to deliver a great meeting location experience. The following are eight things that can go wrong when scheduling and reserving a meeting location for a prospect or customer meeting.
- Wrong location. First impressions do count. Hosting a meeting in the wrong part of town or in a location that poorly represents your brand can prove disastrous. The location can be public (e.g., local coffee shop) or private (company office or even a rented space); it does not matter. It takes a matter of a few seconds, and a wrong impression is almost impossible to change. The damage has been done and is almost irreversible.
- Lost and anxious. Having a new prospect or even a customer walk into a meeting location and have no one to greet them, escort them to the meeting room, or provide assistance in preparation for the meeting quickly forms a negative first impression. In addition to doubts about the professionalism and financial wherewithal of the company with which they are meeting, prospects and customers may also experience a heightened level of anxiety when no one greets them upon entrance into the office location.
- Unconnected. Most meetings nowadays require Internet access. Companies need to demo products, refer to websites and webpages, and email documents and links to attendees during meetings. Indeed, a facility with degraded Internet speeds or one that presents users with complex connection processes can be detrimental—from the ability to deliver a quality presentation to facilitate a high-quality discussion. At the same time, customers expect to have easy, fast access to the Internet using multiple devices. When this is not available, they become frustrated and impatient.
- Public disruptions and interruptions. When using public spaces such as coffee shops, disruptions are bound to happen. It might be a lack of privacy: someone who overhears the conversation when sitting nearby or walking past or a noisy pedestrian lurking in the background. Yet it is much more than privacy; background noise (e.g., loud conversations, horns and sirens, etc.) can interrupt the flow of a presentation or even discussion. In some cases, it could even end a meeting.
- Private disruptions and interruptions. Disruptions are not simply confined to private settings. For example, hotel conference rooms are often located in major thoroughfares filled with loud guests who can create a huge disturbance.
No business wants to interrupt a customer or prospect meeting to deal with the various administrative and professional needs that arise during a meeting. It may something as simple as photocopying or color printing of materials or faxing or mailing of materials. But it could also include other tasks such as notary, secretarial, and transcription services.
- Virtual disconnect. Not everyone can attend a meeting in-person. Some may attend virtually. Businesses therefore need to plan for meeting locations that offer the latest audio and video conferencing technologies. Without such equipment, virtual participants may not be able to attend.
- Flat and ineffective presentations. The last thing a presenter wants to worry about going into a meeting is whether the right presentation tools will be at her or his disposal. Without the right smartboards, LCD projectors, plasma screens, and other presentation tools, a presentation can quickly fall flat and prove ineffective.
- Wasted time eating and drinking. Time is often the most critical element in a meeting. Taking an hour or two from the schedule to leave the meeting location for lunch or dinner can expend valuable time. In addition, the emotional connections customers (particularly for millennials) one builds with the same things such as food and beverages—even if just for a break—is important.
Reserve the Advantage of Davinci Meeting Rooms
Davinci Meeting Rooms provide businesses with over 4,000 convenient, professional meeting rooms and conference rooms around the globe. These can be used for a number of different business reasons, including but not limited to customer and prospect meetings.
If you are considering a hotel conference room for your next meeting—internal or external—you may want to look at Davinci Meeting Rooms as an alternative. In addition to being less expensive (up to 50 percent), Davinci Meeting Rooms provide a much higher level of business engagement and service. Check us out at DavinciMeetingRooms.com where you can sign up for a Meeting Rooms account, review individual locations and rooms, or ask us questions via live Web chat, email, or phone.