Stay in Touch: Go Beyond “Checking In”
Let’s pretend you’re a customer. You recently purchased a product for your small business that requires additional service from a Big Company. You use their product on a daily basis and generally feel like Big Company does a good job at servicing you when you are having a problem with the product. You have a great relationship with the representative that has been assigned to your account. She sends frequent emails to keep a pulse on what challenges you might be having with the product and always gets you the answers to your questions in a timely manner.
You go a few months without any problems and things are running smoothly. Yet, you still receive an email from the representative asking if she can help with anything. At the end of her email to you, she includes a link to an article about your own competitors and the new feature they just announced a few days prior.
You read the article and wonder, “How did she know about that? I’m the one in the industry and I didn’t even hear about that!”
The Big Company rep was a very smart salesperson and account manager. By providing new information about one of your competitors, she demonstrated a few things well. She demonstrated that she’s always working towards your best interests, she’s knowledgeable and aware of your concerns and needs, and that she really is there for you when you need the help. She did that all with one simple email and the gift of one piece of information.
The alternative to this scenario is another random email saying, “Is there anything you need?”. If the Big Company is doing a good job of delivering to their clients, they are sending these emails often. But, as a customer, they can get old. They can be more bothersome than helpful if everything is running smoothly. (Do any of us really need more email in our inbox?) Often times, salespeople phrase this as “just checking in”, but fail to actually ask a specific question that the customer can or should respond to. As a customer you think, “that salesperson just called because they feel obligated or their boss told them to follow up”. Customers want more than that and they especially want to know that their sales rep has your best interests in mind.
In order to avoid bothering your existing clients with generic emails, consider offering them something without asking for anything in return.
Keep a pulse on your clients, their industry’s news, and their competitors by using these 5 free tools:
5 Free Tools to Stay In Touch:
Google Alerts are extremely simple. Enter your client’s business name, the result type, and how often you’d like to receive an alert straight in your inbox. I like to set up my alerts to send once-a-day so I can quickly scroll through the results each morning. Get creative with your search terms. Different combinations of words can yield different results. Find the ones that seem to produce the most appropriate results and continue receiving just those alerts.
Topsy is a tool to monitor your client within social search. Let’s say your client had a new location open recently and a few customers are talking about it on Twitter. It might be interesting to note that and mention it to your client. Topsy will also send daily or weekly alerts to your inbox so that you can scroll easily each morning. Just knowing that your client has been mentioned on Twitter will give you greater credibility. Your client might be impressed when you say, “hey, I saw on Twitter that your customers are happy about the new location”. (Consider: you might not have even known about their new location without this tool!)
Newsle is especially helpful for keeping in touch with those clients that you are connected with on a social network—especially LinkedIn or Twitter. When someone in your network “makes the news”, you are sent an email with the article that has been published by them or about them. If you also want to see updates by Friend of Friends in order to grow your network, you can also activate that feature. When I see one of my friends’ articles, I send them a quick email or LinkedIn message letting them know that I saw the article and, depending on the situation, offering a “congratulations”. There’s so much news to follow on a daily basis, that sometimes it’s hard to know when someone within your own network writes or does something newsworthy.
If you are active on Twitter, one of the best things you can do to monitor different groups of people is by creating a List. For example, I am an avid runner. I want to know what my running friends are up to especially on Friday nights because they probably have a long run planned for Saturday morning—and that usually involves post-run brunch! By adding them to a list, I can easily scroll through just my running friends, without having to scroll through my entire feed. You might want to keep a list of industry experts in your own field, a list of clients you service, and a list of prospective clients. Contribute to the conversation when necessary or monitor their updates for potential ‘headaches’ that you can help relieve.
SocialMention is somewhat comparable to Topsy. It’s a “social search” engine that will populate alerts based on the queries you choose. But SocialMention will also show you helpful information like: sentiment, top users, top hashtags, sources, and top keywords for the query. If I type in my client’s business’ name and sentiment seems to be low, you might want to scroll through the feed and understand why that might be. Find the ‘top users’ that seem to have the biggest problem with your client’s product. If your client has the ability to reach out to those Twitter users directly, it will speak volumes for your client & their customer service. You help your client do their job better. They’ll like it. I promise.
No one likes receiving emails saying, “just checking in!”. Go a step beyond and surprise your clients by offering up a piece of information they might not know about.
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