Monday, February 23, 2009

4 Reasons Why Businesses Fail to Follow-Up

Most business owners recognize the need to cultivate and maintain good relationships with their customers. At the same time, many overlook the need to follow-up after the sale or service. Here are four of the many reasons why they may be hurting themselves and being like the ostrich that sometimes waits for the danger to come to it.

1) AFRAID OF APPEARING "PUSHY": Persons involved in Direct Sales often seem to be overly-concerned about this. Keep in mind that there is a difference between being pushy and being proactive. I feel very appreciated when someone from whom I purchased an item calls to see how I liked the item, or sends me a Thank You card. Wouldn't you? And, if during the follow-up call she mentions that one of the ways she grows her business is by referrals, that in no way offends me because I would want to refer my friends or family to someone who cares enough to follow-up.

2) WORKLOAD - Admittedly small business owners and entrepreneurs often carrying a weighty load of responsibility and have to multi-task as the CEO, the Sales Person, the Marketing Department, etc. However, customers are why they got into business and why they stay in business. It may be necessary to analyze if productivity would be enhanced by hiring someone to assist with less essential tasks so that the focus can be on where it's required most.

3) FEAR - There is an old saying that What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You. In business it's the opposite! What you Don't Know WILL Hurt You - your relationship with your customers and your bottomline. Are you afraid to call your customers after a sale or service because you may get a negative response? Would it not be better to know what their concerns are right away so that these can be addressed? And if customers are happy, would this connection not be the perfect opportunity to ask for a testimonial or referral?

4) NO DATABASE: Each of us has to determine how serious we are about growing our business. Having a comprehensive updated database is not an option, it is a requirement. I'm trying to think of any type of business that could function effectively without a database and none comes to mind. Some business owners may argue that the nature of their business does not require their customers' names and addresses. What if you placed "Comment Cards" on the counter and asked customers to complete in detail the first time they fill it out and add an offer to make it worth their time?

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

5th of 5 Reasons to Follow-Up With Customers

Referrals and Testimonials - Customers who know you care are happy to give you their business and they will also be happy to refer their friends and family to you.

It is said that 'word of mouth' is the best form of advertisement and this is even more important in our current economy. People have become more conscious of good customer service; it's no longer a matter of purchasing sales and services from just any provider or supplier. They want to know they are doing business with a person or company that has an excellent reputation for providing great service after the sale.

The result of happy customers should be unsolicited testimonials. When customers give these verbally ask them to put their testimonials on paper and if you have not started doing this, start today. A simple system would be to use a 3-ring binder with sheet protectors and every time you receive a written testimonial you add it to your binder. This creates added value for your business as savvy customers are more inclined to make their decisions based on referrals or recommendations from their peers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4th of 5 Reasons to follow-up With Customers

Builds Trust - Many times customers make a purchase and they are dissatisfied, but it's just too much work to return to the place of purchase. Has that ever happened to you? Very recently I purchased a headset with microphone from a giant retailer and after two or three uses one of the earbuds separated from the headpiece. I know that this retailer has a reputation for willingness to do exchanges or refunds so while it's aggravating I'm not unduly worried about it; I just have to make the time to return to the store. What is your return/refund policy if you are selling a product? Do your customers know your policy? Do you have any flexibility in your policy for long-standing customers? How about if you are a service provider? Do your customers know if they are unhappy with a service they can call you within a stated period? Although it may be unfair, small businesses and entrepreneurs seem to be held to a higher standard and while comments like "I bought an item from XYZ large retailer and it was not a good buy" will hardly affect that retailer, a similar comment about a small business can have a deadly effect.

It takes work, it takes scheduling, it takes time but by following-up after the sale, if there is any dissatisfaction and this is cheerfully addressed, you, the entrepreneur or small business owner, will have a loyal customer. That customer will trust you and want to do business with you time and time again.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

3rd of 5 Reasons to Follow-up With Customers

The Invisible Sign - Everyone wears an invisible sign around their neck that says "Make Me Feel Important." Business owners must promote ideas and implement strategies to ensure that each customer is made to feel special. There are numerous ideas, including many tried and true methods, but ultimately each business owner has to determine which ideas would be best for his or her niche.

Some basic suggestions that work for most small businesses would be:

Gifts with Purchase
Add-on Service
Customer Appreciation Days
Thank You Cards
Follow-up Calls and/or Surveys
Special Day Cards
Thinking of You
"I Value Your Opinion" - Referral Cards

By making your customers and clients feel special, you are building strong, long-lasting relationships.

And now I invite you to visit my website at: to learn more about a relationship-building tool that supports following-up with your customers and clients. You can test the system by opening a FREE gift account and sending a card to a client, customer, or a family member).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

2nd of 5 Reasons to Follow-up With Customers

Reduces Customer Dissatisfaction - Customer dissatisfaction results when customers feel that very little person interest is shown in them and that they are viewed as just a number on the balance sheet.

Honest communication is a requirement for lasting relationships. In business this is no exception. "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care" is a well-used quote but is so accurate. It never ceases to amaze me that when customers have a bad experience they are likely to share that with just about anyone who will listen, whereas many times the good experiences are shared with only a few. Would you not prefer that the person they share that dissatisfaction with is you, the business owner or entrepreneur? They will if you show by your surveys or programs for follow-up that their satisfaction with your product or service is important to you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

5 Reasons to Follow-up With Customers

Over the next five days I will submit five reasons why it is essential to follow-up with customers in a down economy. Please free to add your comments and submit additional reasons to do so.

1. Cost Effectiveness: It's been said that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current one. In some industries the cost ratio may be even as high as 20 times more to attract a new customer than selling to your existing customers.

For every customer you lose it will take time and resources to replace just that one customer when that time could be spent enhancing existing customer relationships and providing an environment that encourages customer retention. In the meantime, the loss of a customer also means the loss of revenue for your business.

Tomorrow we will discuss how following-up with customers reduces customer dissatisfaction.