Customer Follow-Up: 9 Effective Strategies for Business Success
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Are you following up with your customers after they’ve made a purchase with you?
If not, you’re missing a trick. Following up with a customer – whether it’s to ask for feedback, cross-sell, address issues, thank them, help them, or simply be nice – is one of the most important parts of the sales process.
That’s why below, we’ve put together our top nine customer follow up strategies you can use to follow up with your customer – and in a way that’s natural, affable, and always feels like you’re treating them like a person – rather than a number.
Why Is It Important to Follow Up With Customers?
At its most fundamental level, following up with customers is important because it shows you’re not just interested in selling – you’re interested in building a relationship.
What’s more, following up with customers can:
- Provide you with valuable feedback: following up a customer after a sale allows them to offer vital insights into how they found the process. What went well? What could’ve been better?
- Allow you to upsell and cross-sell: if a customer has had a good experience with you the first time round, following up provides an opportunity to offer them additional, related, products that they might not otherwise have known about.
- Let you resolve any quibbles, before they become issues: following up with a customer enables you to discover – and talk through – any annoyances or frustrations they may have had with the initial sale. By resolving these, you reaffirm your commitment to the customer – and make it more likely they’ll buy from you again.
Ways to Follow Up With Customers
So – how exactly can you go about following up with your customers?
Well, that’ll depend on the nature of your business, and the products and services you sell – not to mention the communication preferences of your customers themselves!
Broadly though, some of the ways you can follow up with your customers include:
- Phone call: one of the more personal – yet oft-overlooked – methods of customer follow-ups, sometimes a phone call is the easiest and most direct of communication channels. However, it won’t be suitable for all customers. (Millennials, in particular, are known for their phone phobia!)
- Email: a safer, lower-effort option, one of the advantages of email communication is that it’s perceived to be less intrusive than other forms of communication (such as texts or phone calls.) However, emails can often feel less personal because of this – and can go missing in the overstuffed inboxes of their recipients.
- Social media: if a customer gets in contact with one of your business’s social media accounts, it’s more than okay to reply to them via that channel. But we wouldn’t recommend using social media to follow up with your customer out of the blue – it could come across as a little creepy!
- Text: SMS messages strike the right balance between personal and non-invasive, and can be an excellent way to follow up with a recent customer.
9 Effective Customer Follow-Up Strategies
Ready to explore our nine top customer follow-up strategies? Read on…
1. Say Thank You
There’s nothing like a little politeness to get your foot in the door – which is why reaching out to a customer with a simple “thank you for your purchase” can be the perfect springboard for a conversation about how you can help (read: sell!) to them further.
When you’re processing a large number of orders, it can be easy for one or two to fall through the cracks. Fortunately, any ecommerce website builder worth its salt will let you easily set up automated ‘thank you’ emails – meaning you won’t miss out on doling out your gratitude to a single customer!
2. Ask for Feedback
Customers love to be asked for their opinion – it shows you value them and their insights. And that you want to apply customer feedback to improve your services to other customers going forward.
That’s why reaching out to a customer to ask for feedback on their recent buying experience with you is one of the most effective customer follow up strategies around. Some of the questions you can use to lead the conversation include:
- How did you find your recent experience with us?
- What was the best part of your experience with us?
- What could we improve about your experience?
- How would you rate the demeanor and expertise of the sales agent?
- Would you buy from us again? If not, why?
(If they answer “yes” to that last question, well… you may have opened the door to a very lucrative conversation!)
Find Out More
- Discover How To Ask Customers For Reviews for even more helpful tips on gathering that valuable customer feedback.
3. Provide Incentives
When it comes to persuasion techniques, the carrot is always better than the stick – so don’t be afraid to offer your customers an incentive to engage with your business again.
Such customer follow up incentives could include:
- Offering them a deal or discount on a future purchase in exchange for signing up to your email database, or following your social media accounts.
- Inviting them to enter a competition to win a prize, in exchange for their feedback.
- Reaching out with a free trial or gift when they sign up to your loyalty program.
In Robert Cialdini’s famous book Influence: Science and Practice, the great psychologist outlines “reciprocity” as one of the key principles influencing human (and consumer) behavior. When you provide incentives, it’s on show. Because when you do something for your customer, well – they want to do something for you!
Find Out More
- Learn How To Create a Customer Loyalty Program with incentives like these!
4. Remember Special Occasions
Regardless of whether we’re any good at remembering the birthdays of loved ones, we all have that one friend who never forgets a birthday: who’s the first to wish you a merry Christmas, or a happy New Year. We all love that friend.
And guess what? Your business can be that friend.
Reaching out to your customer on their birthday, or on special occasions or public holidays (happy Fourth of July, anyone?) is the perfect way to make them feel valued, and show that you care. It’s also a fantastic way to keep your brand at the forefront of your customer’s mind (particularly at Christmas time, when they’ll no doubt be on the lookout for gifts!).
Find Out More
- Looking for more tips on How To Create a Personalized Shopping Experience? Our full guide walks you through the five top tips to make it a success.
5. Offer Help to Get Started With Their Purchase
If you sell products that require a bit of time and effort to get the hang of (like certain types of software, or devices of a technical nature), it’s a good idea to reach out soon after your customer has made a purchase. You can offer to walk them through how to set up their new product or service, and provide some insider tips for getting the most out of it.
They’ll appreciate it – and it’s the perfect lead in to a conversation about how you can support them with further products and services.
6. Set Up a Referral Code
Referral codes are worth their weight in gold. Not only do they allow you to incentivize your customer (“SHARE THIS REFERRAL CODE WITH A FRIEND FOR 20% OFF YOUR NEXT PURCHASE”), but they also allow said customer to rope other people into your brand’s ecosystem.
Better still? When that original customer does share the referral code with a friend, and that friend makes a purchase, you can offer that friend their own referral code. They then share that with their friend, and it’s a self-perpetuating chain of exponential customer base growth.
7. Be Prompt
When following up a customer after a recent purchase, the best policy is almost always speed.
Okay, so we’re not talking about texting your customer mere minutes after they’ve purchased from you – one or two days is fine. And for some types of products – ones that take several days, or weeks, to get set up – immediate communication won’t always be appropriate.
But in general, the sooner you can reach out to your customer after they’ve bought from you, the better. For one, you’ll still be top of mind – so the communication won’t seem like it’s coming out of the blue, and will feel less like marketing. For another? If there is an issue with the product or service you’ve provided – and the customer simply hasn’t gotten around to telling you about it yet – you’ll be able to solve it sooner.
8. Send Relevant Content
One of the best ways to follow up with customers without it feeling too random (or too annoying!) is to offer them some informative, interesting content.
Reaching out with a relevant recent blog article, for instance – or with a link to a how-to guide explaining how to make the most of a product they’ve just bought from you – are surefire ways to start a positive (and potentially profitable) conversation.
It’ll also help engender loyalty to your brand, and whet your customer’s whistle for more of the engaging, informative content your business has up its sleeve.
9. Be Personal
Just because your communications are coming from “a business”, doesn’t mean they can’t sound human. So whether you’re following up with your customer via email, phone, social media, or text, make sure your message sounds like it comes from you – a.k.a a real person!
To do this, channel a friendly, conversational tone. Use their first name when you reach out to them. Make a reference to their recent purchase (what it was, and when they bought it) and be upfront about why you’re reaching out.
Sounding human will increase the warmth with which your customers perceive your brand. And will make your communications feel less like cynical, opportunistic advertising, and more like one human thinking – and caring – about another.
Best Ways to Follow Up With Customers: Summary
When it comes to following up a customer, many businesses shy away. They fear it’s too invasive, too nosey, too alienating. But in reality, following up a customer is one of the most important things your business could – nay, should – be doing.
It’s like when you’re eating a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter comes over to ask how your food is. Being followed up on, as a customer, makes us feel valued and attended to; like the business we’re patronizing cares about us – and not just the money in our wallets.
So make following up on your customers – whether that’s calling, texting, emailing, or reaching out to them on social media – a priority in 2023.
Thank us later! (Or in the comments… that’s good too.)
Fortunately, there’s a few things you can do about it. Explore our advice for increasing your email open rate, and get to grips with when the best time to send an email is.
If this is something you’re grappling in vain with, our guide to understanding your visitors and customers should help.
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