It's tempting to concentrate on making new sales or pursuing bigger accounts. But attention to your existing customers, no matter how small they are, is essential to keeping your business thriving.

The secret to repeat business is following up in a way that has a positive effect on the customer.

Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sale, when you call the customer to say "thank you" and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service.

Beyond this, there are several effective ways to follow up that ensure your business is always in the customer's mind. These tips will demonstrate how businesses can easily create client loyalty.

1. Let customers know what you are doing for them

This can be in the form of a newsletter mailed to existing customers, or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whatever method you use, the key is to regularly point out to customers the excellent service you are giving them. If you never mention all the things you’re doing for them, customers may not notice. You are not being overconfident when you talk to customers about the work you have done to please them.

2. Use handwritten notes

Handwritten notes add a much more personal and memorable touch and show customers, especially long-time customers, that they are appreciated. Make them sincere and to the point. For example, if you run into an old customer at an event, follow up with a note: "It was great seeing you at the Chamber of Commerce Expo. I will call you in a week to schedule a lunch and catch up."

3. Keep it personal

Voice mail and email make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is lost. Don't count these as a legitimate follow-up. If you're having trouble getting through, leave a voice-mail message that you want to talk to the person directly or will stop by his or her office at a designated time.

4. Remember special occasions

This is such an easy yet very effective way to build consumer loyalty and stick out from the crowd, since most businesses don't follow this advice: send regular customers birthday cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards -- you name it. Gifts are excellent follow-up tools, too. You don't have to spend a fortune to show you care. Use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business, the customer's business or his or her recent purchase.

5. Pass on information

If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization that a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know.

6. Consider follow-up calls business development calls

This simply happens all the time and is a benefit of regular communication: when you talk to or visit established clients or customers, you'll often find they have referrals to give you, which can lead to new business.

With all that your existing customers can do for you, there's simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them. Use your imagination, and you'll think of plenty of other ideas that can help you develop a lasting relationship.

Related reading: How to Create Customer Advocates That Send More Referral Leads

 

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