Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you want to maintain your relationships with them, you have to show your gratitude. A key strategy for letting them know they are valued is to organize a customer summit. You need to meet them face to face, show them how your company operates from the inside, and give them a better idea of how you are both benefiting from your professional relationship. By the end of the summit, your customers should feel even more positive about their decision to work with you. Customer summits are also a great opportunity to get feedback on your products, customer relationships, and customer service.
Are you interested in holding your own customer appreciation summit, but don’t know where to begin? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re planning your first big event.
NewsCred VP of Marketing Alicianne Rand speaking at last year’s Customer Workshop
Debrief everyone at your company
The summit may be the brainchild of your sales team and account managers. However, everyone, from interns to IT workers should be informed about your event.
If one of your customers is sitting alone in a conference room or wandering around lost, an employee should know to greet them and make sure everything is OK. You don’t want employees to be caught off guard by the summit, either. They need to know about it so that they can get comfortable with the idea that customers may be in their workspace for a few hours.
Send each client a personal invitation
When inviting customers to your event, don’t send out an email blast. Assign members of your team to different clients to contact them personally. Then, have your employees send out the summit agenda to them so they know what to expect. When you call up or email customers individually, they will realize that you’re eager to have them there and be more likely to attend.
NewsCred’s 2014 Customer Workshop
Make them feel comfortable
From the moment customers arrived at their hotels in New York City for the 2014 NewsCred customer appreciation summit, Account Manager Nichole Spell said she strived to make them feel as comfortable as possible. This started by providing gift bags clients received upon check in. “The way we thought about it is if you were going to a conference in a city in which you don’t live, what would you need? What would make you say, ‘Wow, I’m so glad this was here waiting for me?’”
Whether you’re giving your customers gift bags, following up to make sure they arrived safely at the hotel, asking if they need anything, or showing them around the office, you want them to feel at ease. Let them know that it’s OK to ask questions and to reach out for help.
Allow for one-on-one time
People don’t want to feel herded around. If you only include group meetings on the agenda, you may risk making your customers feel lumped together.
Make time for one-on-one meetings with your customers. Since you regularly communicate with them through email or phone, they might have questions built up in their minds that they wanted to ask in person. You want to encourage an open dialogue and honest feedback; one-on-one encounters will be successful at bringing those things out. Not only that, but just building personal relationships with your clients can help your professional relationship. If you maintain a strong relationship with a client representative, they’re more likely to consider continuing to use your product if they move companies or change careers. What are their interests? What do they care about outside of their job or industry? When they feel like they can rely on you more as a friend than just a service provider, you set the foundation for a more meaningful customer relationship.
Schedule teaching sessions
Your customers should understand what your brand is doing behind the scenes. It helps them feel more secure about your professional relationship and gives you a chance to show off how hard you’re working. They want to see that they’re getting their money’s worth, and you can prove it to them.
If customers are educated about what you do, they will be able to give you ideas and feedback, as well as contribute to your efforts. When everyone is on the same page and know what’s going on, it makes it easier to implement campaigns. This is also a great opportunity to educate clients not just about your product but the industry as a whole. Clients who are better at their jobs with you to thank are probably happier customers. At NewsCred’s customer summits, we focus on feedback but also training and strategy sessions to ensure our customers know the latest trends, techniques, and data in the content marketing industry. We want them to know we’re invested in their success and the knowledge they need to achieve it.
Before you begin to put together your summit, determine the reasons why you need to do one. Figure out your goals and what events you can plan to achieve them. Get input from all relevant team members, and schedule it during a time of the year that’s not extremely busy.
Above all, make sure the event is convenient for your customers. They are your number one priority. They keep you going, and they need to know they are appreciated.
Originally published on Apr 20, 2015 11:15 AM, updated Feb 16, 2016