Your advertising campaign worked.
Customers are coming into your shop, and sales are starting to roll in. So, you decide to take a moment to bask in the glory of a job well done.
But make it a short moment.
If you want to have a successful business, you have to keep those customers coming back.
But why would they?
If they are pleased with the product or service you provided, and they had a great customer service experience, you would expect them to be back. But, for many varied reasons, they might not.
So how can you increase the odds that they will?
Follow up with your customers after the sale. Post-sale communication has many benefits. Customers don’t always complain when they have problems with your product or service. (Well, at least not always to you.) Following up gives you a chance to solve a customer’s problem that you may never have known about.
You can turn an unhappy customer into a raving fan that tells others how great you are instead of complaining about you to anyone who will listen.
When you communicate with the customer after the sale, they may need to make another purchase. Your contact with them gives you an opportunity to ask them to purchase again or sell them other products.
But remember that this is not a sales call. The purpose of the follow-up is to further serve your customers and build a relationship with them, not pester them to buy more. Be prepared to sell only if the opportunity presents itself during the follow-up.
It is common for people to have doubts about their purchase after it is made. Following up can reduce these doubts and reinforce the feeling that they have made a wise purchasing decision. This makes them feel comfortable with repeating their decision to buy from you.
Sometimes customers don’t return to your business because they simply forget about you. They have busy lives and may be bombarded regularly with ads from your competitors. You are one among many choices, and one of those choices is doing without by not making any purchase anywhere.
So following up can be just the reminder they need of the value you provided. It reinforces the fact that you solved a problem for them and improved the quality of their lives. It lets them know that you are still there and are ready to provide further value to them.
Small business owners sometimes struggle with determining what products to offer, how best to serve their customers and how to promote their business. By following up, you get an opportunity to learn directly from your customer. You have a chance to learn about their likes and dislikes, what they would like to see changed and how they make purchasing decisions.
So start by putting a follow-up plan together and begin collecting the appropriate contact information from your customers. When and how to follow up with your customer depends on the type of business you are in, what kind of customers you have and your goals for your business.
In today’s market, there are many software programs designed to help you with developing and maintaining customer relationships. These are referred to as Customer Relationship Management software, or CRMs. Take some time to determine what software package, if any, is best for your business.
Try brainstorming lots of ways to follow up and then prioritize them according to which ones you believe will achieve your goals. Get input from your employees, business advisers and other business owners.
In addition, consultants at your local Small Business Development Center can assist you with developing a customer follow-up strategy that benefits both you and your customer.
Connie Edwards is a business consultant with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 651-3200.