There are a number of benefits that come from making sure your customers know you are thinking about them.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase "customer follow-up?" If you're like most entrepreneurs, your mind might go immediately to sales. A prospect reached out for a quote and then went dark for a week. So, you follow up until you close the sale. Or you become an exhibitor at an industry conference and map out a great follow-up plan to get in touch with interested prospects after it ends.
Yes, these are important methods of follow-up. But follow-up also extends beyond the initial sales process and can play a key role in the entire customer experience. It's a widely underused tool that business owners, marketers and salespeople all can benefit from using more. Here are four ways that the right types of follow-up, powered by marketing automation, can propel your business to greater heights.
Follow-up to shallow interactions can keep you top of mind
Someone calls to ask about your services and then says they'll "be in touch." What do you do? Wait for them to contact you again or proactively reach out? First, create an alert for yourself in your CRM to personally follow up with this person about three days later if you haven't heard back.
Then, think about ways you can offer value to this person even before they hire you. Maybe they mentioned a concern they had, and you can call them back after you find out more about the issue. No strings attached; just to help them out. Or maybe they mentioned another problem they have that's outside your area of expertise. Do you know a specialist in that area who is trustworthy? Send the prospect a note with the specialist's contact information and why you recommend them. Whether they become a customer of yours or of the person you referred them to - or not - you can rest assured that they'll have a very positive perception of you and want to work with you when the time is right.
Even if you don't have something immediate to offer a prospect, make sure you're the one who contacts them next. This can be by offering a discount, sharing an article that educates them about your services or asking them to fill out a survey. This way, their interest will still be high and you'll keep your name on their radar. Even if these actions seem small, they can make a big difference.
Follow-up can build trust in the relationship.
One of the most difficult things for new customers is to trust a service provider they've never worked with before. And while trust can come in many forms, follow-up is almost always a great tool to help establish it. After all, it lets the person know that you are reliable and can be counted on to prioritize them. A great way to practice this type of follow-up is by readily sharing testimonials, and using referrals to your advantage. But you can also be extremely prompt to win the customer over and build trust.
Here's an example. A man just called your extermination company because he and his wife found some spiders in their home and are afraid because they have young children. But he explains that his wife doesn't want toxic chemicals in the home, so he doesn't know what to do. You can quickly follow up to help educate and calm both parties. If you wait too long, especially in certain situations, you will lose trust and probably lose the sale as well.
Or let's say you're a wedding videographer who has a new potential client with a wedding date several months away. They haven't booked you yet officially, but you heard that their venue is unexpectedly going out of business, so now they'll have to start the venue search all over. The couple is no doubt frustrated, if not downright panicked. Go the extra mile and give them a call (or send a text) to tell them you're here to help however you can. If you're responsive and show you care, you create a real relationship – and increase the chances of turning this person into a loyal customer.
Tailored follow-up can move a hesitant prospect through your funnel.
There always comes a time in the sales process when objections start to arise. For some companies, it's in the earliest stages when a customer is first considering buying from you. For others, it comes later when they're deciding whether or not to become a repeat customer. Whenever it happens, objections are inevitable. When you start to hear them come your way, don't give up. Rather, view this as a sure sign that more follow-up is needed.
For example, let's say you run a plumbing company. Your most recent prospect was almost ready to hire you for a job until they heard your cost estimate. This could signal your services are overpriced, but assuming that's not the case, it could be an opportunity to share some helpful content with them. In this sort of instance, you could design an email in your marketing automation software that compares your services, prices and overall value next to those of competitors in your area. The goal of the content would be to show your value, and ultimately convince them the price is worthwhile. Something very specific like this can go a long way in convincing a hesitant prospect to move forward with you.
While this example is a very manual process, you can also automate targeted follow-up by segmenting the lists in your CRM and sending them only the content that applies to them. For instance, you could segment your list by the location of your customers. Send out a newsletter to each group, including testimonials from other similar customers in their geographic area, special offers and more. The more targeted you are in your follow-up, the more impact it will have.
Post-sales follow-up can create loyal customers for life.
Yes, follow-up in your customer service leading up to a sale is important. But getting in touch after the sale is just as important. Use automation to check in a week or two after you performed your services, and ask for feedback. Get positive feedback? Ask for a referral. Negative? Call the person directly to find out where you went wrong, and how you can rectify it.
This tells the customer that they matter to you as people and not just payment. And it also leaves a really strong impression in their minds about how professional and caring you were. So the next time they need services like yours, they'll be sure to be in touch. Post-sales follow-up also gives you another reason to get in front of your customers again. If they don't have an immediate need for more of your products in the weeks or months after a purchase, a simple piece of thoughtful follow-up from you can remind them about what you have to offer. Sometimes, something little like that is all it takes to spur another sale.
There's so much you can do with customer follow-up, and marketing automation can help make it a breeze. Take your business to the next level by maximizing both, and giving your customers what they really need.