Your clients are a goldmine.
You knew that right?
The key to leveraging existing customers into more and more success is to follow-up with them. While plenty of salespeople are gunning for the next big score you know the path to success lies with the people who have already paid you money.
But you can’t just follow up willy nilly whenever you feel like it or remember to do so. You need a follow-up system.
Here are 6-steps to putting a client follow-up system in place:
- Measure Success. If there are metrics you can track to gage success, use them. A software company might track usage of their hosted application. A retail organization could track repeat purchases to gage clients’ happiness. If there are no metrics you can track that’s troublesome because it means you don’t have any sense of what your customers are doing or thinking. Metrics aren’t perfect, they’re just a barometer from which you can build your system of client follow-up.
- Follow Up on a Schedule. You need to follow up regularly, but not too often. I ping my customers every 3 months. It’s a good amount of time to gather information, give customers a chance to come up with issues/questions/etc. and not overwhelm them. You might want to setup a CRM application to track clients and when you’re supposed to get in touch.
Of course, schedules are made to be broken. And you’d break your follow-up schedule when the metrics you’re tracking tell you something is going very well or very bad. In both cases you’ll want to follow-up on an accelerated scheduled to find out what’s going on. If things are going very well, you’re moving to get positive feedback, testimonials, client referrals, etc. If things seem to be going very poorly, you better fix the situation. Fast.
- Have a Reason to Follow Up. It’s not good enough to just follow up and say, “Are things going OK?” That’s better than nothing, but instead, try and have a specific reason for each follow-up. When you have a specific goal in mind for your follow-up it makes it more effective and valuable for you and the client.
Here are some reasons you should be following up with clients:
- Make sure the customer is happy
- Resolve customer complaints
- Solicit feedback
- Get a testimonial
- Get approval for doing PR with the customer
- Update them on new products/services
Ultimately, each time you follow up with a customer your #1 goal is to build a stronger relationship, but you can do that more easily if you have a reason for calling them beyond “just chatting.”
- Two Calls and One Email. If you don’t reach a customer the first time you try and follow-up, leave a message and then call again. If you have to leave another message, tell them you know they’re busy and you’ll send an email instead. You might not follow this exact process but the point is that you can’t follow-up endlessly. If you’ve tried a few times and you get no response, move on to the next follow-up. People are busy, just because you don’t reach them doesn’t mean the client isn’t happy.
- Keep Track of Client Follow-Ups. Track the results of every customer follow-up. Did you accomplish your goal for the follow-up? What else did you find out? Take notes, keep ’em handy, and use them for the next follow-up.
- Validate Your Client Follow-Up System. Is it working? Are you getting valuable feedback? No system is perfect, so over time make sure you’re assessing the success of your client follow-up system and update it accordingly.
Follow-up with your customers regularly and you’ll gain a wealth of knowledge. They’ll be your buzz agents, evangelists and references. They’ll buy from you again. They’ll complain more openly (which is a good thing!)
Go call your customers. They’re a goldmine of success.