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We shouldn’t have to say this, but if you run a business, you really have to make sure you’re communicating well with your clients and prospective clients. You can’t afford NOT to prioritize the client relationship when every lead is only 2 seconds away from a Google search that could send them to your competitors instead.

If you’re invested in delivering great customer service but keep bumping into obstacles as you go, these tips should help clear the way.

1. Check Your Spam Folder

Again, we really should not have to bring this up, but you’re checking your spam folder, right? As anyone who’s sold anything on Craigslist can attest to, email systems just love dumping things into spam instead of your inbox, seemingly at random. If client communications end up marked as spam, that’s a missed opportunity for both of you.

Pop into your junk mail folder daily to survey the landscape and make sure you’re not inadvertently losing important client emails. And encourage your clients to check their junk mail too; you don’t want your own email marketing efforts ending up in their virtual garbage.

2. Set Up Auto-Responders

Ideally we’d all respond instantly to each email message from each client, but most of us mere mortals can’t get to everything right away. Luckily we live in an age of advanced technology where you can set up these nifty little things called auto-responders. Clients get an immediate automated response to their message or query, and you get to do more for your business than sit around answering Facebook messages full-time.

Lest you be turned off by the thought of sending out canned responses, keep in mind that even pre-fab replies are typically customizable. And a generic “Thanks for reaching out! Someone will be in touch shortly!” is much, much better than radio silence so deafening that your clients start wondering if you got their message at all.

3. Keep Clients Informed

Hopefully you’re already keeping your clients informed about anything—industry changes, updated regulations, magical time-savers—that could affect them directly. Beyond that, though, you need to work at staying ahead of the curve.

In other words, don’t wait around for changes to happen and then announce to your client how they’ll be impacted. Instead, take charge of what’s coming up on the horizon and proactively let them know about it: “Hey Client, I just saw this really cool new way people in your field are saving time with this magical time-saver! Let’s try that out for you and see if we get any traction!”

Build Lasting Connections

Above all, keep those lines of customer communication wide open. Remember, retaining existing customers is much cheaper than landing new ones. While a brand new customer is only 5 to 20 percent likely to make a sale, the chance of making the same sale to an existing customer jumps to 60 to 70 percent. The better you communicate with your clients, the happier they are—and happy clients are the same people who become your long-term clients.

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