Competition is fierce—and time is limited. How do you keep your eye on the proverbial ball that are your important client relationships while completing the many other business tasks you handle in a day?
Here are a few cost-effective ways to stay in touch with your clients.
Make every interaction relevant. Your customers struggle with a flooded inbox and overwhelming list of “to do’s”– just like you. If you’re going to invest the time to call or email a customer, spent a few extra moments to making it relevant. For example, establish a Google Alert for each client’s name, their business name and alerts for the products and industries that pertain to your client relationships. These alerts will scan the Internet to ensure you’re always aware of “mentions” relevant to your clients, and what’s happening in their respective worlds. Incorporate the news into your “touch base” to give more meaning and context to your message.
Mimic their communication style. Your customers tell you how they want you to keep in touch, based on how they communicate with you. It’s up to you to follow their lead. If your customer sends you email, don’t call; email her back. If she contacts your business with a message on social media, respond to her in the same channel. If she leaves you a voicemail, return the phone call. If she texts, text back. (You get the hint). As common sense as it sounds, mimicking the kind of communication your customer uses is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate that you understand what your client wants and are willing to accommodate it.
Automate interactions for consistency. If you want to realize a return on the time and financial investment you put into social media, email campaigns, and online review sites, you’ve got to be consistent in your strategy. The problem? It’s time-consuming!
Though automated campaign management tools don’t eliminate the need to invest at least a few hours a month into your client contact strategy, they greatly simplify the process. For example, Capzool allows you to produce and preschedule blog content, press releases, email, mobile and voicemail campaigns, and promotional offers (including those delivered via email, social media, local review sites and paid advertising), all in one shot. Block some time in your schedule every couple of weeks to focus on what you want to say, when, how and to whom—and let technology take care of the rest (until it’s time for your next campaign).
Give help with no strings attached. Instead of sending clients messages about products, offers or services that focus on your business, think of ways you can help them, no strings attached. Does your customer have a Yelp page, a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn profile or a Google+ presence? ? Leave a positive and genuine review about their skills, and the great things they have to offer. Don’t announce that you’ve left the review, or ask them to return the favor. Odds are, they’ll notice, and remember what you did for them.
Invite their insight. There is such a thing as being too close to your products and services. So close, in fact, that you become blind to the real reasons your clients need, want, and value your business. Before you release your next promotion or product launch, send your customers a quick email inviting them to share their opinions. Keep the survey brief, ask plenty of open-ended questions, and provide thought starters, so they understand what kind of insight you want. (Consider using a tool like Survey Monkey so clients can share feedback anonymously). At worst, they won’t respond to your request. At best, you’ll learn more about what they perceive as your true selling points and opportunities, and let them know their opinions matter.
Remember what few others know. Keeping notes about your client’s children’s names and ages, pets, and hobbies may sound like a trite technique, but in an era where face to face human interaction is so rare, old-fashioned relationship building can set you apart.
Make the effort to truly listen to your clients. Take notes after you part ways and proactively set a calendar reminder to check in with them when it’s appropriate, based on what they shared. If you meet with a client in May whose child will begin preschool in the fall, set a reminder to check in mid- September to see how those first few days went. Likewise, if your client will participate in a race or athletic event, schedule a reminder to attend, or simply send a good luck note the day before—just to express that you truly heard them and care.
Despite all the automated “CRM” tools that exist, taking the time to hear and get to know clients on a human level, can be one of the easiest and most impactful ways to stay in touch.