Book: No Office » Part 2 - What if there was no office? » Chapter 25 - Meet your customers | meet.md

Chapter 25 - Meet your customers

You can have your customers over even if you don't have a physical HQ

Invite people over to your virtual office!

Just like in the previous Chapter 24 about connecting with team members, I also believe it’s critical to regularly meet with customers. I do it all the time. Every week I have a few meetings with Nozbe users.

I know. It totally doesn’t scale.

We have more than 700,000 Nozbe users and tens of thousands of paying customers. How can I meet them all? Of course I can’t. I’m not even trying to. The goal is not to meet all of them. After all, only Chuck Norris could do that. The idea is to just keep meeting with some of them and build meaningful relationships where you can.

How I choose customers I meet with?

It all depends. Sometimes someone contacts me via social media or email and I feel like we should talk, so I invite them over. Usually however it’s my customer support team that does the introductions. When they’re corresponding with someone interesting, they casually ask them if they’d be interested in having a chat with the CEO. People are usually surprised that the boss himself is available for a direct one-on-one chat with one of the thousands of customers. It makes them feel special to and sets us up for a great conversation.

I’m curious about our customers’ businesses!

We are lucky that our apps are being used not only by consumers but also by people leading businesses across many sectors and industries. That’s why our customer support reps tend to ask for a chat with me if someone is in an industry that we know very little about. I’m a very curious person and I like to learn about the world outside of big tech. This way I get to talk to people who are running all sorts of businesses like insurance companies, real-estate agencies, manufacturing plants, design studios, marketing agencies, law firms or even builders of custom-made motor homes. It’s all very interesting!

Thanks to these chats not only I get to learn how they discovered Nozbe and how they’re using it, but most of all, I can broaden my horizons and see that there’s a world out there of businesses I’ve never heard of making some truly amazing stuff.

I can have a meeting with anyone in the world!

No, I don’t have a physical office, but I’m using that to my advantage. I get to have a virtual coffee with a customer from the other side of the world without having them to fly over to me or me visiting them. Of course meeting in person would be even more meaningful, but trust me, just the fact that as the CEO of a company I schedule time to meet individually with some of my customers is meaningful enough! People really appreciate that!

How to schedule meetings with customers effortlessly

Now that I explained why meeting virtually in person is a great idea, let’s get down to the logistics of scheduling this the easiest way possible.

Use a scheduling app

I use a dedicated scheduling app1 and have decided on a few slots per week when I’m available. Usually this is around 4pm Central European Time on a Tuesday and Thursday. This is a very convenient time for me as it’s toward the end of my workday and it suits very well my European customers. It’s also the beginning of a workday for my American users (it’s 10am New York time). For customers in California I’m usually making an exception and meeting them when it’s evening here.

Thanks to using a dedicated app, I just send them a link and they can choose a time that suits them. There’s no unnecessary back and forth and trying to agree on a time. They just choose a 30-minute slot available and that’s it. Literally a one-click-meeting agreement.

This app is further synchronized with my team’s Google Calendar so everyone on my team can see the appointments in the calendar and is aware of my commitments. Very often based on these calendar entries someone is sending me suggestions for questions or topics I can discuss on these meetings.

Set up a dedicated room for virtual meetings

In my company we’re using a video conferencing software2 where we can have dedicated virtual rooms for different meetings. The same applies to our customers. We have a “Nozbe Interviews” meeting room and we send the link to each customer who wants to talk to me. Moreover, they receive the link to this room in their meeting confirmation email.

It’s the same link for everyone as I’ve set up the room this way that a customer must request to join a room. This way when one half-hour meeting is finishing and I see another customer in the waiting room, I can politely steer towards finishing the current conversation and once done, I’m able to let another customer in.

Have a conversation template to make a meeting meaningful

I still remember from my days of running Productive! Magazine3 and interviewing thought leaders for the cover of each issue. Contrary to a popular belief, it can be sometimes very difficult to strike out a great conversation with a very smart person. Usually they are great and we hit it off very quickly, but sometimes they’re not in the mood or just not talkative and you need to have a plan of what you’re going to ask them to get them to warm up to talk to you. That’s why for each of my customer interviews we have a template.

Don’t worry, I’m not a robot and I don’t stick to the template 100% but it serves me as a guideline of what I’m supposed to talk about and what I should ask my customer. This template also reminds me to ask some really good questions and make the meeting more about them and their needs rather than just talk about my app and myself. Here’s a series of questions I have prepared usually:

  • What’s their company about and what do they do? - I start about them. After the initial question I ask more follow up questions to really try to understand the basics of their business and get to know better where they’re coming from.
  • How they discovered Nozbe? - Only after I’ve discovered little about them I ask about my app and its role in their company. I want to know who started using it first, if everyone on the team is already using it and how hard or easy it was to get people on board.
  • What problem Nozbe is solving for them? - Now I’m asking again about them and about the problems my app is solving for them. What they’re hiring Nozbe to do. If it’s just task management, or internal communication, or flow of documents, or all of the above, or maybe something else?
  • Any issues they encounter using Nozbe? - Now I’m trying to be helpful. I want to understand if they have any difficulties running our software. Maybe some feature they don’t like? Maybe they can’t do something? Very often here I’m trying to work with them to figure out how to improve the way they use our app. Most likely there’s an advanced feature in our software they’re not aware of and I walk them through how to implement it.
  • Are there any other pieces of software they’re using day-to-day apart form Nozbe? - Now it’s time to see if there might be some synergies. Maybe they’re using additional tools that can work together with our app. Maybe I can help them improve a workflow. I’m just trying to use my tech expertise to help them out beyond just my app.
  • Anything else I can help you with? - At the end of the conversation I ask for additional questions or any other things they’d like to know. Maybe they’re curious about how we run our company (now I’ll finally be able to refer them to this book!) or anything else I’ve been recently writing about on our Nozbe blog or my personal blog4.

Get personal if possible. It’s all about a human connection!

Thanks to these questions I can be as helpful as possible. But not only that. With such a conversation I can quickly see how much we click as people. After all this is not only a business relationship. It’s just two people talking about things.

That’s why depending on how the conversation goes, I’m getting more personal if the customer lets me. We sometimes later talk about our passions, our struggles, our hobbies, our families and other things we care about. Very often I get asked about how I get all of my work done on an iPad5 or if I’m going to get the latest iPhone and what I think about it.

That’s the beauty of meeting the customers one-on-one. Not only do I get to learn so much about people who’re using my software but most importantly I get to learn about different industries and build relationships with very interesting people from all over the world!

In these conversations I’m also using my additional super powers. I’m a polyglot. I speak fluently not only my mother tongue (Polish) but also English (duh!), Spanish and German. This way I get extra points for surprising my customers when I start talking to them in their language.

How much time should one dedicate to meeting with customers?

Many business owners are so busy that they never thought about scheduling time to meet customers. Believe me, I’m busy, too! But a little time investment goes a long way! After many meetings like this I heard from my customers that they were surprised that meeting with me for a video chat was even an option. That I was able to do that. And that they’d try the same in your business.

It really doesn’t require that much work. As outlined above, the logistics are pretty straightforward and currently I only have two one-hour slots available weekly. For a total of maximum four meetings a week.

Starting small is key. Making the default meeting only 30 minutes is great. It sends a clear message that not only I value my time, but most importantly I value my customers’ time as well. However if the meeting goes really well and I feel we have much more to discuss and I have my next slot free, I very often ask the customer how much more time they have and if possible, we talk for even an hour or more!

Again, it’s all about a human connections. Business don’t buy from businesses. People buy from people.

Pro tip: Record the conversation but don’t share it publicly!

Yes, I’m recording my conversations with customers! Naturally, only with their consent. When the chat starts, I politely ask them if they’re OK with me recording this conversation. They usually are. Then I hit record in our video conferencing software6 and we start talking.

Once the conversation is finished, I upload the recording to our video storage solution7 and set it up in such a way, that only people from my team can watch it and nobody else.

For each meeting we have a dedicated task in Nozbe so once I’ve uploaded the video, I add a comment to the task and ask a person from our customer support team who organized the meeting to watch the recording on a Friday. After they’ve watched the conversation, they put notes from the meeting in a comment to this task so that we can all agree on key takeaways. They also follow up with the customer via email to thank them for their time with me and send them more information about the questions they had or things we spoke about.

Recording a meeting is a great idea. This way nobody else buy me has to be present on the meeting itself, but later by watching the replay, other people from my team can feel like they’re participating and benefit from it as well.

How about meeting customers in bulk? There are several ways to do that, too!

Apart from these individual meetings, it’s good to establish regular ways of meeting customers in bigger groups. That’s why at Nozbe we’re back at doing webinars8 where I can meet hundreds of customers at a time. I’m also publishing a monthly vlog not only to my team, but also to my customers9. And with Rafal, our VP of product I’m publishing a regular NoOffice.FM podcast every two weeks10 where we share and comment tips from this book and from our day-to-day work. All these activities give me a chance to connect with many of my customers and hopefully be a part of their lives beyond just running my product.

And when you travel? Meet with customers, too!

As I used to travel a lot for work, both for our company reunions (see next chapters about it), conferences or for leisure, I also check if there aren’t any interesting customers in the area and reach out if they didn’t want to meet me for a coffee or lunch.

Very often it gets even better than that. I get to visit their offices or factories and I get a free tour of how they work. It’s really cool and it satisfies my curiosity even more than any virtual meeting would do.

Now I’m traveling less for work. Once, because of the pandemic but also because I’m a family man and don’t like to leave my family alone for too long. That’s why the virtual meetings are still my preferred way of meeting customers!

The one thing: schedule time to meet with your customers!

Meet customers and talk to them. Virtual coffee is really easy to get organized and people will appreciate your time and you’ll build great relationships in the process. Thanks to current technology you can meet anyone in the world! And if you want to talk to me, don’t be a stranger and just get in touch!11

  1. I’m using and recommending Calendly. Their free plan is actually all I need for a one type of meeting: NoOffice.Link/calendly 

  2. As already mentioned in previous chapters of my book, we’re still using and recommending Zoom: NoOffice.Link/zoom 

  3. Between 2008 and 2016 I used to be the editor-in-chief of a productivity magazine. You can still read the past issues for free here: ProductiveMag.com 

  4. Our Nozbe blog can be found at Nozbe.com/blog and my personal blog is at Michael.team 

  5. I’m known on the Internet for using the iPad as my main computing device. I co-wrote a book about it, called #iPadOnly, which you can read for free online: iPadOnly.com 

  6. In Zoom when you hit “record”, both parties see that the conversation is being recorded. When I’m on the iPad, the video is being recorded to the cloud. On the Mac I usually record it directly on the computer. 

  7. I upload video to Vimeo (NoOffice.Link/vimeo) and set it as “hide from Vimeo”. This way the video is not visible to anyone else. I also limit that the video can be embedded only on our internal site nozbe.team to which only we have access to. 

  8. You can always sign up for an upcoming webinar at: Nozbe.com/webinar 

  9. You can check my vlog in video and in podcast form: Michael.team/vlog 

  10. Subscribe to our podcast about working remotely at NoOffice.FM 

  11. The fastest way to get in touch with me is to contact Nozbe customer support (Nozbe.com/contact) as they have direct access to me. But don’t tell anyone! It’s our secret! :-P 

Next: Chapter 26 - Reunite the team

Back to the Table of Contents

Read this chapter in: