By staying in touch with your customers, you turn basic transactions into ongoing relationships. But doing this effectively is not as easy as it sounds. Sending an email that simply says “thinking of you,” or something along those lines, has little meaning for the recipient. Instead, find a reason for your communication that benefits the other person – not you. Here are some ways to pull that off.
Set up an alert on each customer. There are plenty of tools to help you keep track of customers (or competitors). Google Alerts is one; www.talkwalker.com and www.mention.com are others. Choose one or two of these tools and set up an alert on the person’s name, company name, and maybe topics of personal interest such as hobbies they have. Then you can reconnect with something to offer: congratulations, information about new competitors, trends in the industry, or sports accomplishments like a marathon, etc.
Most people aren’t comfortable asking others to complete LinkedIn recommendations. Instead of waiting for a customer to ask, jump in and write one for them. You will not only strengthen a connection, but you will also get the chance to (subtly) describe your business and services when you discuss how you and your customer did business in the past.
Or go further and be a matchmaker, and recommend a customer’s services to another customer. If you pick the right people, both will be grateful for the introduction.
Never forget: People tend to like, and remember, the people who like them.
Say you run into a customer and he says, “How is John’s first year of university going?” Wow, he knows your son’s name, and you barely remember your customer’s name, much less whether his kids are in school – or even whether he has kids at all.
Casual meetings are great for building a more personal relationship, but you have to be prepared. That means actually remembering something personal about each customer.
So keep an informal database on your cellphone, or add notes to your contacts database. Do whatever works for you. Then, before you call or email, quickly scan your notes so you’re up to speed.
Put in the effort; it’s worth it. Memories come and go, but electronic data is forever – and that’s how long you want your customer relationships to last.
Building customer relationships isn’t totally altruistic; you eventually want something (like more sales). But when you’re staying in touch, forget about what you want and focus on what you can provide.
If you’re creative, the list of things you can give – both tangible and intangible – is endless.
Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship. If you focus solely on what you can get out of it, you will never build a long-term relationship.
Subscribe to your customers’ blogs, use alerts to find articles they write for other sites (or articles they’re quoted in), and leave thoughtful comments.
Your customers will greatly appreciate the support.
It takes more than just a “Thinking of you – hope you’re doing well!” email that sounds like you’re just fishing for business. The key is to stay in touch in a meaningful and memorable way. nJN
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