Are face to face meetings with customers still important?

With the ever increasing use of social media and the speed, accessibility, and convenience of Skype, e mail, instant messaging and conference calls, far too many of us overlook the importance of having face to face interaction with our customers. Whilst technology undoubtedly improves our efficiency in many ways, it is my opinion that there will never be a replacement for a traditional face to face business meeting, and it appears that I am not alone:

In a survey of over 2000 men and women commissioned by Crown Plaza Hotels; 81% of business professionals believe that face to face meetings are better for building long term trust and ensuring strong client relationships. Moreover, 47% believe that they have lost a client because they didn’t make enough time to meet their clients in person.

As a recruiter, understanding and appreciating our clients and their teams on a human level is crucial in supplying an excellent level of service. Meeting customers in person provides us with a deeper understanding of their personality, their priorities, and how their organisation operates. We are then in a much stronger position to understand their recruitment needs and to be able to identify the most suitable candidates based on skills, aspirations, and team fit. This face to face interaction is key to building the rapport and understanding which is critical to a successful long term working relationship.

Body language and physical reactions are vital in the process of building relationships and gaining trust. Many studies have shown the non-verbal cues such as smiling, eye contact, open arms, mirroring, and a confident handshake can have a hugely positive impact.

Another key benefit when meeting customers in person is that there is much less chance of misinterpretation. In a face to face meeting you can read body language, gauge understanding, and clarify information as required. Most of us will have experienced at least one situation where an email or text message has been misunderstood or taken completely out of context. Face to face meetings also command the full attention of all participants – in this modern age of multitasking, we are all too often engaged in various activities simultaneously diluting our attention and focus.

In 2018 and beyond, there is absolutely no doubt that digital meetings and communications can save us both time and money, nevertheless, there will always be occasions where a face to face meeting will be pivotal to building relationships and to winning and retaining business.