I'll definitely agree that, when it is a regular meeting, you have to tell the client/customer what is going on. After all, they may start to notice that you're with another customer every Monday, at 9:30am! I was speaking more of those random, uncommon meetings.
As for the meeting, I think it is important that the saleperson/customer service person let the client know that there is a regularly scheduled meeting, but that in an emergency you will be happy to step out of the meeting to assist them. Of course, just like the "he's with another customer" idea, everyone has to be in on this. If you tell your client you'll be happy to step out in an emergency, and a secretary, thinking he/she is helping, won't get you from said meeting, you look even more like the south end of a north bound horse than before!
In the end, the single most important person in your company is your customer.
"There is only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else" -Sam Walton
"The person handling the account of this company got the message after the meeting and returned the call and the first thing he did was apologize and said that he was held up in a staff meeting.
The client felt like somebody was lying to him.First of all the secretary tells the client that he assisting another client then later he is told that he was in a staff meeting. The client finally gave the business to another company.I think some of these small things we ignore can cost us a lot. " -mwachirake
Absolutely! This is why eveyone in your company, from the CEO to the janitor MUST be focused on customer loyalty. If your clients don't believe that you are looking out for them, they will spend thier money somewhere else in a heart beat! I will also say, if your client left over a miscomunication concerning a "staff meeting," there were other problems. According to Jeffrey Gitomer, a loyal customer WANTS to do business with you, and will fight your compitition to do so.
In my mind, I can't help but wonder if your staff meetings and your companies interest in keeping them uninterupted at all costs, aren't a symptom of a deeper misunderstanding of your customer's needs. I am not trying to bash anyone here, but when a customer defects, I take it to be an "F" on my report card. It's not the end of the world, and it can be brought up next semester, but I'd better look into whatever I need to do to correct the situation!
Have you spoken to a select group of your most loyal customers to see what suggestions they might have?
Wear the Right Hat!