(As published in the Sunday Star Times, August 17, 2015: you can read it online here)
In my mailbox this month there were bills, junk mail, more junk mail, one leaf and two snails.
In my inbox there were work emails, alerts for business articles and online publications, and the occasional email from friends organising our next catch up.
But where were the reminders that my car is due a service? That my home air conditioning filter needs replacing? That it’s been a six weeks since I had a haircut? That it’s been six months since my last clean and polish at the dentist? That my house was waterblasted this time last year and it should be done annually?
If you don’t already keep track of your customers’ purchases or visits, you should.
Take the next step and start proactively reminding them when they’re due their next appointment or service. It’s not pushy – it’s helpful. For many of us, months roll by without us even noticing – it often comes as a surprise that the tap filter is ready for changing again or the lawn needs to be sprayed now if it has any chance of being prickle-free in summer.
Make it easy for your customers to make their next purchase or appointment with you by keeping track of their timeline and reminding them. If you do it in a helpful manner, rather than a pestering one, they’ll thank you for it.
So many companies miss opportunities by not staying in touch with their clients or customers between “visits”. If there is nil contact between their last purchase or visit to you and their next, there’s nothing to stop them from trying someone new in the meantime, meaning you could lose that business. And we all know that it costs less to keep current customers than it does to acquire new ones.
So how do you talk to your customers between visits?
– Do you send them friendly reminder texts, emails or mail reminding them they’re due for their next appointment? Followed up by a helpful phone call to book them in?
– What about a newsletter, sharing your company news, related industry news, helpful tips or your latest arrivals or specials? When my team at Business Changing put together email newsletters (or a physical one mailed out) for some of our clients, they literally get a positive return on investment, i.e., they make profitable sales from just saying hi to their customers and reminding them they are relevant and are there to add value to their customers.
– Do you update your Facebook page regularly, so they’re reminded of you as they scroll their newsfeed? If it is not weekly at least, you are not going to be very visible!
– When was the last time your website news or blog was updated? If it’s more than six months ago, work on it. Not a great look when your last blog or piece of news was in early 2014!
– Go the extra mile and send them a little something on their birthday. A gift or discount is cool, but a text or email is nice too. But make sure it sounds personal and isn’t a boring generic message. (tip: create 3 or 4 friendly messages and send a different message out each year.)
The trick to talking to your customers between visits is the frequency. Don’t barrage them so they start deleting your comms as soon as they see your name pop up, before even reading what you have to say. Try sending them your newsletter every six weeks to begin with, and keep an eye on your open rates. If it starts dropping, push it out; if you get a good response, perhaps try every five weeks.
And if you see your unsubscribe rates rise, pull back – you’re coming on too strong. The only rate you want to see rising is the number of return customers… And if you go to the effort here, they will think only even better things about you and your offering and the side-benefit is you will get more word of mouth referrals from them as they will think “proactivity means that they care about me”…
Question to you: How can you add value to your customers by proactively communicating? Identify this and then do something about it!
Zac de Silva is a business coach and owns www.businesschanging.com, the virtual coaching software www.accme.co and is co-founder of www.nurturechange.com the Fiji business retreat November 11–15, 2015
– Sunday Star Times
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