Scratching Your Customer’s Itch: Conducting Meaningful Customer Site Visits

While this seems to state the obvious, conducting customer site visits is perhaps the most important task of a field manager. But, while the value of performing customer site visits is undoubtedly apparent, many companies in our industry struggle with developing a plan for consistently visiting customer sites and making these visits impactful for the customers and team members. In this article, we will share a framework for determining the frequency of visits and a structure for each visit.

Customer Segmentation – All Customers Are Not Created Equal

Years ago, my father shared this wisdom with me: “We should treat all customers fairly, but not equally.” In other words, those customers who produce the most revenue (or profitability) for your company should naturally receive more attention (site visits) than those who produce less revenue. Most businesses share this philosophy – think frequent flyer programs.

To establish customer visit frequency, we recommend developing a customer segmentation plan. This plan involves studying your customer base and developing different levels of service based on monthly contracted revenue (or profit). The following are basic customer segmentation steps:

  • Step 1 – List all customers (not customer sites) and their associated monthly revenues in a spreadsheet. Sort the list from highest revenue to least.

  • Step 2 – Determine the number of customer tiers you wish to have. We recommend 3-4 levels, and we recommend naming the levels something like: “Platinum,” “Gold,” “Silver,” and “Bronze.” This naming convention helps to avoid internal confusion regarding tiers.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Customer levels (naming conventions) should be used for internal purposes only – customers need not know they are a “Bronze” customer, for example.

  • Step 3 – Establish the number of customer site visits in each tier. The following is an example of how site visit frequency based on tier levels:
    • Platinum – 3 site visits per week, 2 hours each visit
    • Gold – 2 site visits per week, 1 hour per visit
    • Silver – 1 site visit per week, 30 minutes per visit
    • Bronze – 1 site visit every other week, 30 minutes per visit
  • Step 4 – Test and adjust, as needed, your system to ensure your field managers have enough time to complete the prescribed visits. For example, a field manager’s tasks should be divided into (1) administrative and (2) customer/team duties. A good rule of thumb would be to allocate 2 hours per day for administrative activities and 5-6 hours per day for customer visits and driving to customer sites.

Making Customer Site Visits Count – Scratching the ITCH

Once segmentation and frequency are established, it is time for field managers to “hit the road” and start visiting customers. But wait…..what are they supposed to do when visiting a customer’s building? To help field managers conduct effective and efficient site visits, we suggest using the acronym – “ITCH.” Read below for details:

  • (I)nspect – This quick inspection is different than a full inspection. Instead, this inspection is typically for a targeted portion of the facility, for example – “restrooms in the lobby area.”

    • NOTE: Encourage Account Managers to record needed service improvements – by doing so, the customer can see that you are noticing service improvements before they see them

  • (T)eam – Connecting with team members is essential to serving your team. If possible, we ask Account Managers to provide the name(s) of team members with whom they connect.

  • (C)loset – The site visit is the perfect time to check equipment, refill/order supplies as needed, and tidy the closet if needed.

  • (H)ello – Connecting with members of our customers’ team is an important part of deepening the customer relationship and building customer loyalty. If possible, we ask Account Managers to provide the name(s) of customer contacts they connect with.

    • NOTE: Account Managers must be coached on connecting with customer contacts without distracting them from their work. Likewise, an introverted Account Manager must be coached on how to open a friendly, brief dialogue.

Lastly, we recommend having field managers complete a Customer Site Visit (ITCH) Form for each visit and then send a summary report of the visits to each customer. These reports prove that managers make customer visits and let customers know what they do during each visit.


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