Numerous studies show that selling to new clients costs much more than to existing ones. I mean, much more. At the same time, the biggest complaint that clients have when dealing with any company is a poor-quality follow-up. Far too often businesses retain existing customers by desperately repeating ‘Stay!’ instead of implementing an effective customer follow-up strategy. Remember those endless emails and continuous spam via messengers? Join the club!
The period following a sale is often called ‘the honeymoon’ – for a good reason. Both sides feel excited: the customer has just fulfilled a need, the business has closed a deal. But this is also a pretty challenging time. Here comes the need to develop a follow-up strategy that can make-or-break the future relationship with the client. Frankly, it is worth your while to gain customers’ loyalty and trust.
Wondering how to follow-up customers at your small business? Let’s break down the tested-and-tried follow-up strategies that can become your competitive advantage – one that should not be missed out.
Warm-up exercises before your follow-up routine
First, get to know what communication channel your customers prefer to use. The sooner, the better. Literally ask them if it’s an email, Skype call or pigeon post.
There is a good chance that customers will choose email. Great, just make sure you know how to stand out from an ocean of emails they get every day. Here comes the next question you should ask: ‘Is there something I can put in the subject line that will help me catch your attention?’
Second, keep your conversation personal. People do business with those they know, like and trust. Small businesses should be especially conversational in customer communication. But don’t stick to using real employee names when sending emails. That’s not enough anymore. Here’s how we approach personalization at Chanty using videos in follow-up emails:
And last but not least, make sure you always sum up each conversation with a clearly defined next step. In other words, give your customers a bold call-to-action, as direct as possible. This may be a question they need to answer or a payment they need to make.
In this post we are sharing12 excellent ways to follow-up with existing customers to build trust, improve your business and generate more sales. No more desperate cries ‘Stay and buy more!’, only a comprehensive customer follow-up strategy that nurtures win-win business relationships.
1. Send a note to say ‘thank you’
Some small businesses send thank-you emails. Others say it with a hand-written card. Whatever channel you choose, it’s crucial to say ‘thank you’ after closing the deal. The warm and personal thank-you note will help your company stand out from the competition and open the door for future communication.
2. Test out super-personalized ‘I saw this and thought of you’ email
This one is my favorite. Did you come across an interesting article? Or attended a business-related exhibition? Share this valuable information with your customers. It’s an awesome and very personal way to get in touch with people again.
3. The ‘Just checking in’ email to show that you care
Do your clients need help or support after the purchase? Are they having issues with how to use a product? Do they need more information? You’ll never know until you actually ask the customers about their experience. But don’t go to extremes. Especially, resist the urge to make a sale at this stage. Listen carefully to your clients’ opinions and pains instead, and do your best to solve any issue they might face.
Depending on your company’s tone of voice, personalize the email to fit with your brand. For example, it’s a great practice for small businesses to send this email from the CEO or business owner. The main rule here is to avoid generic corporate email address like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (not mentioning email@example.com).
4. The ‘Anything else?’ email to show you’re always here to help
This email is a great way to close off a conversation with a customer. For example, test it out after the client has contacted your support and their issue has been solved. Sending this email, you help customers feel entirely satisfied after communication.
5. Educate your customers
As a small business owner who wears many hats, you probably don’t have enough time to conduct individual training for every client. Also, you may not be able to answer every email or take on every phone call. Nevertheless, what you can do is to take proactive steps to eliminate common and recurring questions.
Whether you send small tips and best practices to your clients or provide them with thorough instructions on how to get the most from your product or service, your customers will appreciate your willingness to help and attention to details.
6. Embrace the word-of-mouth marketing and ask for referrals
Everyone value opinions from their friends and colleagues and don’t trust advertising. So do your prospective customers. When a recommendation comes from the person who has already used your product or service, it has more chances to be heard. Satisfied customers become the best advocates for your small business because third-party testimonials carry more weight than self-promotion.
That said, there’s no time like now to run a referral program within your client base with the help of follow-up emails. A good idea here is to offer a small, yet sweet bonuses for participating as in the following example:
7. The ‘Survey’ follow-up email to test the waters
Most clients won’t provide any feedback unless you ask for it. Asking for feedback with the help of follow-up emails is a perfect way to hear from customers and improve your services. If you are unsure what to ask your clients in the survey, there are a few questions to start with:
- Are you happy with the product you have purchased?
- Are you satisfied with the service we have provided?
- Were you served quickly?
- Did our product/service meet your expectations and fulfill your needs?
- What can we do better?
To keep taking the survey seamless, you can use some survey tools to collect replies the clients give you. It won’t cost you a pretty penny: the services like Google, Typeform and Survey Monkey offer free plans with all needed features to kick off.
8. Share your social channels to stay in constant touch
Promoting your social channels to new clients is a mutually beneficial activity. First, your customers can get the information about running promotions and important product updates first-hand here. Second, social channels break the ice between your brand and clients and nurture their loyalty. Just include the invitation to your social accounts in plain sight sending another follow-up email. And don’t forget to explain in a few words the advantages of following your small business on social media!
Moreover, social channels is a perfect hub for your new clients to see what other people are saying about your company and how they benefit from the products. For instance, at Chanty we run a closed Facebook group to gather our community under one roof:
Chanty closed Facebook group
9. Up-sales, cross-sales, repeat sales and everything in between
Don’t let unengaged customers slip through the cracks! Notify them about promotions and additional services you provide. Your clients will feel appreciated and nurtured. That improves your chances to generate repeat sales. Tell your customers about running promotions, send gift cards and special offers, draw their attention to related products that provide them with additional benefits, etc.
Speaking of advanced sales methods, you can arrange product demonstrations that may convenience your customers to upgrade their plan or continue to collaborate with the company. No matter where the client is located, on the next street or the other side of the world. Using simple, yet handy tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom or Filestage, you will be able to hold a good, old-fashioned business meeting in a few clicks.
10. Don’t be shy to remind clients about payments
Talking about unpaid invoices, abandoned checkouts and upcoming payments can be uncomfortable. Many small businesses avoid these situations by simply never following up. However, that’s no solution. The truth is clients can simply forget about invoices or be distracted just before pushing ‘Make a payment’ button. The email doesn’t tell that you blame them or shake them down. Instead, this message shows up your care about the customers and the willingness to help with any issues.
11. The ‘Break-Up’ email when things are unpromising
Saying ‘goodbye forever’ may hurt (especially while standing in the pouring rain). Nevertheless, let’s face it: responseless follow-up wastes your time and annoys the clients. If your follow-up attempts remain fruitless time after time, be brave enough to send customers the break-up email asking if you should stop reaching them out. Here’s an example for you to steal some ideas on composing your first break-up email:
12. Revive cold leads from time to time
It can be quite a challenge to bring back former customers. As a result, many small businesses forget about their cold leads. However, think about it: these people have once chosen your brand among hundreds, if not thousands of other companies. Here comes the question why not to break the ice? The best scenario here is to send former customers a superb offer that gives you the perfect ‘excuse’ to email them. I bet this final attempt is worth at least a shot.
Talking to existing customers who already made a purchase isn’t a waste of time. We’ve come through 12 excellent ways to follow-up existing customers to build trust, improve your business and generate more sales. No more desperate cries ‘Stay and buy more!’, only the comprehensive follow-up strategy that nurtures win-win business relationships.
What follow-up techniques do you use? What other ways to follow-up customers we’ve missed on our list? Tell us in the comments.
Want to contribute to PeoplePerHour blog? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!