Following up with customers is crucial to the success of any business that is selling products, so if you haven’t made a conscious effort to put a customer follow-up system or strategy into place, you’re likely losing a steady stream of revenue by missing out on potential customers.
We’re here for you though. By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll understand the importance of follow-up systems as well as know what steps you’ll need to take in order to establish a well-functioning customer follow-up system to boost your sales and increase customer retention.
A good customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a great way to implement your customer follow-up system. We’ll have more on CRMs below, but just know that building your customer follow-up system around a CRM can help you to maintain efficiency while also keeping the customer experience standards high.
A customer follow-up system is a set of processes you and your team use to send follow-up communication to both potential and current customers with the hope of either bringing them into the fold or retaining their business long term. Let’s say someone interacts with your website by providing their email. Having a customer follow-up system in place allows your sales rep to then reach out to them. It’s a key step to any marketing effort.
Your business can follow up with customers in a variety of ways. Phone calls are a simple, traditional way to follow up with customers, but you can also send emails, text messages, or even postcards in the mail. Part of developing your follow-up system is determining which of these methods or combination of methods are best suited for your customers.
The first step in setting up your follow-up system is to figure out which of your customers to prioritize sending messages to, and the only way to know this information is to develop a system of detailed tags for your customers.
The simple fact is that not everyone who engages with you is a perfect fit for your business, so it’s important to rank and prioritize who to focus your efforts on to make sure each point of contact is meaningful.
Each business will have a different set of criteria that’s important to them for marketing purposes, but you might consider things such as geographic location if you’re in real estate, the age of the customer, or how likely they are to hire outside help if you’re in home improvement services such as plumbing or HVAC, etc.
What’s most important is that once you have a set of criteria for your most valuable potential customers, you’ll be able to rank and prioritize your follow-up contact so that you’re making the most of each email, phone call, or text message.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their marketing is to overdo it with follow-up contact. A follow-up system has the potential to actually lose you money if implemented poorly, so make sure you don’t fall into this common trap.
Let’s say a customer is looking for a new home warranty and is looking for quotes from a variety of different businesses. They have to include their email address and some information about themselves in order to get the quote, so by the end of their search, several businesses have their contact information.
You may think that you’re more likely to land the contract if you continue to be top of mind, so you send several emails reminding them about how you have a great offer available, and you also have your team call a few times over the course of the next few days as well just for good measure.
That customer can feel as though you’re being too pushy and salesy with your approach, so instead of engaging with your emails or calls, they become annoyed and vow to never use your business.
Instead of sending an email reminding them about your amazing offer, focus on sending useful information related to what they’re looking for. For instance, if you sell running shoes, and your potential customer is looking for shoes meant for flat-footed runners, send them an article about different challenges flat-footed runners face and the ways that your equipment can solve those.
Obviously, doing this is a lot of extra work upfront, but it’s important to remember that you’re competing with every business that your customer engages with—all of whom are likely sending automatic follow-up emails. It’s important to stand out, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to be genuinely helpful with your marketing.
If you’re a small business, you’re likely doing most of your following up using manual methods (tracking customer information with pen and paper and manually calling or emailing), but with the abundance of affordable or even free software available these days, there’s really no excuse to not at least consider switching.
The advantages of using a CRM system when you’re dealing with following up with customers is enormous and can’t be overstated. Not only will a CRM system house all of your customer information in a searchable database, but it will likely have some form of automation which can help you send those follow-up emails or remind you of important information about clients.
For instance, if you’re in the real estate industry, your customer follow-up looks a lot different than other industries because you’re often dealing with a time span of years between having contact with your customers. Do you remember when your customers’ birthdays are? No? Well, your CRM system will, and it will remind you so that you can send a birthday email or, even better, a postcard in the mail. Having a system that automatically alerts you of important dates helps you to stay top of mind for your customers.
Additionally, a CRM will automate a lot of the more tedious tasks such as sending out emails. If you’ve ever spent three hours of your day sending emails, you know how much of a time saver a feature like this can be.
With total revenue equaling $56.6 billion, CRM software is the largest software segment in the world, so, no matter your business, there’s going to be a system that’s best suited for your needs (full content available to Gartner clients). And as we said before, because the market is so large, tons of free and open source options are available, so if you’re not sure you’re ready to take the plunge, you can test out a CRM system to see if it’s right for your business before you go all in.
If you’re still on the fence about what CRM software can do for you or want help finding the right CRM solution for your business, check out these other helpful resources.