It seems that, in an age of heightened travel concern, everyone knows someone or has their own story of an airport security nightmare, whether from an overzealous TSA agent or an innocently misplaced bottle of mouthwash. In general, increasingly stringent security policies have removed a bit of the sheen that once characterized the world of air travel. “Traveling today is certainly no glamour gig. It’s a lot of work,” said Susan Delloiacono, CCE. However, she added, braving the crying babies, metal detectors and parking fees may be just the trick for credit professionals looking to enhance their relationship with a customer and, in the end, generate a solid, tangible benefit in the form of quicker customer payment.
Delloiacono, a long-time credit professional and expert on customer visits, recently delivered a CMA-sponsored teleconference, entitled “Customer Visits: Credit’s Role,” where she outlined the many benefits of visiting a potential or existing customer. “This is the best weapon in your credit arsenal when you think about knowing your customer, having them know you,” she said. “You become a human to them. And you become accessible. When there’s a problem, you get the first phone call.” In addition to bringing credit departments and their customers closer together, Delloiacono argued that customer visits can also bring other company departments in on credit’s mission as a sales generator and customer service organization. “Our purpose is to develop a win-win customer service strategy that really looks beyond just the credit department,” she said. “Early in my career I thought the world revolved around the credit department, and clearly, as we grow, we realize that although all roads go through credit, we need to understand other members of our company, other members of our team and their touch-points with the customer.”
“When you go to visit a customer, it not only brings you closer to them, it also brings you much closer to your sales organization,” she added. “You really adopt that team approach.”
As with any well-considered business venture, Delloiacono noted that proper planning for a customer visit is essential and offered tips about what to prepare for when visiting a buyer. She also outlined the different considerations that need to be made depending on the type of customer visit, whether it’s at your office, theirs or in a neutral territory like a trade show or whether it’s a pre-sales customer visit, a maintenance visit, or a problem solving visit.