When clients meet with trusted advisors, they are at a disadvantage. They may be nervous, unsure of their situation, and are seeking help from someone they perceive as an expert. People meeting with attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, and business professionals may be happy and fine, but often they come to these trusted advisors when under a lot of stress.
The surprise happens after the meeting, when the trusted advisor receives a call or an email saying his or her services will no longer be needed, or that they have chosen to go with another advisor.
What could the reason be? It might be a case of electronic display of insensitivity. (And yes, it’s a real thing.)
Simply put, your phone at the meeting might be the problem.
Here are the results of a USC Marshall School of Business study of cell phone use of business executives:
- 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings
- 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings
- 75% think it’s inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings
- 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during any meetings
- At least 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings
Simon Sinek, British-American author and public speaker on people, marketing, and technology, suggests a simple solution: stop bringing your phone to meetings. Just stop. The simple truth is many people are addicted to their phones and can’t help themselves from checking for messages, emails, and texts.
It turns out people don’t think you have their full attention when you bring your phone to a meeting. Go figure.
What are they feeling? Here’s a rundown of responses:
- It shows lack of respect
- It shows lack of attention
- It shows lack of listening
- It shows lack of social awareness
Sinek makes note that putting the phone face down is not enough. In fact, it makes matters worse when you have that awkward moment of “do I answer or just turn it off?” That’s why he says to not even bring it to the meeting. And if you have to, then at the very least silence it and put it away (into a purse or briefcase) before the meeting begins.
Your clients see you as a trusted advisor, but even a little bit of cell phone use during “their time” might be a bad thing.
Client retention research tell us that finding new clients costs five times as much as the cost of retaining an existing one. Also, according to research from global consulting giant Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. It literally pays to work to retain clients.
So, do yourself, and your clients, a favor. Leave the phone in your office when you go to the conference room to meet with clients.