The key to customer relationships is communication
By Ray Boucher
Are you wondering what's happening to your customers? The truth is they may be wondering what's happened to you. Think of your customers as friends. You communicate with your friends regularly. Sometimes it's just to keep in touch and other times it's to let them know about something special that's going on. But what happens when you don't hear from your friends for a long time. You begin to wonder what's going on. Why haven't they called or emailed you? Are they still around? Maybe they have new friends and do not have time for you anymore. Maybe they haven't heard from you in so long they think you've forgotten about them. In any case it's important to keep the lines of communication open and stay in touch.
You need to be thinking of your customers with this same philosophy. Just because someone did business with you a year ago does not mean they will continue to think about you and remember you a year later when they need something else. If they don't hear from you or see your promotions, chances are, they will forget about you and do business with another company who is maintaining some form of communication with them.
Remember all the effort you put into getting your customers? Well you should be putting just as much effort into making sure that your customers continue to be your customers. You do this by keeping a steady and consistent flow of communication with your customers. It can be mostly one way communication - That's fine. Just because they don't call you or contact you every time you send them a correspondence it doesn't mean that they're not interested. It's important to keep the flow consistent. Eventually they will call you or come to your establishment to get what they need.
Below are three of the most effective ways to stay connected with your customers;
Sending postcards is a great way to get a simple message out to your customers. You can inform them about seasonal specials or new products, remind them that it's time for a tune-up or inspection, preventative maintenance, warranty expiring, etc. Postcards are a very effective form of communication. The key to an effective postcard is that it's a simple fast communication with an offer some benefits and a call to action nothing more nothing less. Do not fill the postcard with as much information as you can get on there. If you do this it will not get read. Keep it simple.
Emails should be about education and information. You can also promote your specials via email but if you feed the same information constantly it will get boring and the communication will be ignored. If used properly, email can be a powerful marketing tool for your business. Unlike postcards you have more flexibility with email communications. You can create newsletters with articles relating to your products or services for example if you are a dentist you can send articles about proper oral hygiene and preventative maintenance. Also you can send reminders about appointments or better yet, a reminder that it's time to make an appointment. It can be a quick note about a special that you're having or an exclusive promotion just for your email list. The options are open wide. The thing to be careful of is over using email. Think about how many emails you get every day. Blasting an email once a week is more than enough to keep the communication consistent, but not so much that is annoying. And always have an easy way for the recipient to opt out of the list.
Calling your customers on occasion to see how they are doing with their purchase offers a personal touch that most people appreciate. Make the calls about follow-up and consulting, sure you can sneak a sales pitch in there but it should not be the main focus of the call. Don't call too often and don't always be pushing for a sale. That's annoying. However a customer that feels that you are genuinely concerned with their satisfaction is a happy customer and can become a loyal customer.
Each of these forms of communication can be effective on their own but when you combine all three properly their effectiveness grows exponentially. Just remember to keep the information fresh. It you promote the same special every week, there is no reason to act on the offer. And mix up the communications; Education, consultation, advice, surveys, promotional offers. Make it interesting for your customers and they will look forward to hearing from you.
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About the author:
Ray Boucher is a marketing professional, author and the founder of inthinktive.
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