by Michelle Nickolaisen | Featured Contributor
Marketing gets a lot of attention when it comes to where business owners should put their efforts (aside from providing a high quality experience for the customer or client, of course). In fact, it gets so much attention that oftentimes business owners overlook an entirely crucial business system that doesn’t take that much time to set up or maintain, but can have a much higher return on (time, money, effort) investments than straight-up marketing efforts.
Ready for it?
Client & customer follow up systems.
I found it difficult to find up-to-date statistics that were relevant for online or service based businesses, but it’s a generally accepted fact that people who have already paid you money and are happy with the results, service, & experience they got are much more likely to give you money again in the future. Which means that it’s a much better use of your time to make sure that your current clients are happy and that your past clients know how they can work with you again, than to spend time on getting new people to work with you.
I’ve noticed that one reason many entrepreneurs are reluctant to set these up – especially women – is because they don’t want to “bother” people. So let’s envision a scenario: you worked with a service provider or bought a product and were ecstatically happy with the results provided. The whole process was amazing and you walked away feeling like you got at least 2-3x as much value as what you’d paid for. Said service provider or seller approaches you, let’s say, about a month and a half after you originally worked together/purchased, and says:
“Hey! I just wanted to say again how much I appreciate you choosing to spend your time & money with me and my business. I also wanted to check in and see if you have any questions you’d like addressed, or if there are any follow-up things you’d like to work on. If so, I happen to have something designed to work on those – let me know if you’re interested in learning more. Thanks again and have a great day!”
What’s your reaction? You’re not going to be like “WHAT?! The nerve! EFF THIS PERSON!” and blacklist them. Worst case scenario, you mull it over, decide that you don’t need anything else, and email them saying so. Best case scenario, they happen to describe something that you are finding yourself needing at this moment, you feel valued and appreciated as a former client, and say yes to working with them again.
Obviously, this only works if you’re doing your best to make sure that all of your past clients & customers are incredibly happy with their purchase, but I’m going to assume you’re doing that anyways. So now that we’ve covered the why, let’s move on to the how.
How to get started with your client follow up system:
- Think about your follow up offer. This is going to be different depending on what kind of service you offer and your business model – if you’re a web designer, it could be a monthly retainer service for things like sidebar and social media button touch-ups. If you’re a coach, it could be a coaching package designed to help people with the issues that will surface after they fix their original issue. (If you run a product-based business, you can look at your products and see which ones are natural complements to each other.)
- Think about timeframes. When do you want to reach out and talk about your follow up offer? This is going to depend on what your offer is. If you go with a monthly retainer option like mentioned above, it might make sense to reach out fairly quickly after your initial work with the client is wrapped – maybe 3-6 weeks. If you’re a coach and know that those other issues will take a while to surface, it might be more like 90 days.
- Create communication templates to work from. Clearly, you don’t want it to look like a canned response when you reach out to someone – that’s less likely to create a “yay!” response and more likely to create a “yuck” response. You’ll be tweaking it for each person & their individual circumstances, but having a template will help streamline the process and save you time.
- Pick a tool to help you manage all of this. I use, love, and highly recommend Contactually – not only is it great for this, it’s great for keeping you in touch with the rest of your network, too. (Using that link will get you an extra month of premium account features, if you want to sign up & try it.)
See? Now was that so hard, after all? It’s a couple of hours set up time, tops, and then a few minutes of maintenance here and there that can reap rewards both in profit & in happier customers (and happier customers are more likely to spread the word about you – helping out with marketing, too!).
Get it Together Guru for Creative Entrepreneurs – Michelle Nickolaisen of Bombchelle Austin, TX
Michelle is a project + operations wrangler for creative businesses, who also writes & teaches about productivity, organization, & systems (that don’t suck) for creatives. She lives in Austin, TX with her Shiba Inu & loves Buffy, dark chocolate, and tacos. Find her on the web at Bombchelle, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
From Michelle’s site: “My name is Michelle, and I’m an expert at finding out how + why something works (and then putting that knowledge to usually-good use), being grade-A curious, & getting things Done with a capital-D. I work with with creatives who have an established business, who are ready to launch something new or who want to go in a new path, who tend to get stuck going from innovation into action. If you’re working with me, you can expect sass + laughter, fun surprises, and lots of action.”