Why are face-to-face meetings still important in the digital age?

Posted 01/09/2014
Why are face-to-face meetings still important in the digital age?

At Kirkwood Wilson we like to think of ourselves as being leaders in using technology to help bear some of the load of what can at times be described as the hectic job of running a business. But we should also ensure that we do not neglect more traditional means. You may be thinking, “I’m too busy to actually meet with my client, I have more pressing matters”, however we must not forget that meeting in person is still the most valuable and effective way of communicating with your customer.

While it may be easier to drop someone an email or send them a text, what can you learn from interacting with someone on a face-to-face basis that you cannot get from a phone conversation?

Body language

Most communication isn’t conveyed through words; it is done by reading the small signs of people’s body language, hand gestures and facial expressions. You don’t have to be an expert to interpret the meaning – most of it is done subconsciously. The opportunity to ‘read’ people is invaluable and will give you far more information than a telephone call ever will. You can see far more than what a person’s tone will tell you, so for instance, if a client is telling you that they are in agreement with something you are suggesting, their body language might indicate that they have reservations. If you spot the signs, you can either reassure them if they have any worries, or you can suggest an alternative solution they feel more comfortable with.

Clients appreciate it

You may have to juggle your schedule to fit in the travel time to get out and meet your clients, but most of them will appreciate your endeavours. It also helps you make a strong favourable impression – if you have made the effort to arrange a visit it shows that you appreciate their custom. It also deepens your business relationship and increases customer loyalty. If you ever feel the need to speak to us in person, the team at Kirkwood Wilson are here to do so. Just arrange to meet us at your convenience and we will do what we can to help. There might even be an offer of a biscuit to go along with your coffee!!

Deeper insights

In much the same way as reading body language, observing your clients surroundings will tell you a lot about their mindset. Is their office tidy with everything organised? Or is it a sea of chaos with piles of paperwork balanced on every surface? Knowing how they work will help you handle communication and requests. Allowing us to meet you in your normal place of work lets us tailor the exact service we offer you, giving us a better understanding of how to uniquely deal with each client, something we are passionate about at Kirkwood Wilson.

Get to know the inside story

When people meet in person, communication often becomes a lot more informal. Some very interesting off-the-record conversations can be had making you privy to information that you wouldn’t otherwise get to hear. For example, if there are rumours that the company might be cutting back the workforce, could Kirkwood Wilson step in and lend a hand with budgeting and appropriate guidance? We also find that clients are willing to open up more and get our opinion on other aspects of the business that they would never think to mention in a short telephone call.

Develop transparency and trust

Something we have probably all done at one point is use the more distant form of communication such as email to either ignore an action that needs to be taken, or fob someone off. It’s much harder to do this to someone’s face, so actual meetings may cultivate a better climate of trust. This is an integral part of building solid business relationships, and research shows this process happens a lot more quickly with face-to-face contact rather than through electronic communication. When you consider Kirkwood Wilson as your new accountant, we will insist upon a meeting either at your office or ours, something we believe will immediately help to build that level of trust between the two parties.

In short, we know it is impossible to do all of your communication in person as your clients, as well as yourself, simply don’t have the time. Virtual meetings and email offer far more practicality, but if you can increase the amount of direct interaction with your clients, you should certainly do so. Frequent contact to keep in touch with what’s happening is a good thing, but you don’t get the deeper level of engagement that in-the-flesh meetings bring.

Make it easy for yourself. If you haven’t got the time to travel to your client offices, invite them to come to you. It may surprise you how many are willing to do the travelling to get the benefits of interpersonal contact. Even if you aim to meet one client face-to-face every month or fortnight, you will soon be rewarded with greater appreciation and stronger relationships with your clients.

Posted 01/09/2014