In this age of online shopping and worldwide competition, the relationship between companies and their customers has changed. It’s not enough to just provide a product or service – your customers can probably get that same product or service around the corner or online and they can probably find it cheaper. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to look at how they can gain an edge on the competition and staying in touch is one of the best ways to do that.
Just this past Monday I presented a seminar to financial advisors on 9 ways to stay in touch with their customers, so I thought I’d pass along four of the top tips from that workshop to you.
#1 – Get to know your customers
This can mean different things to different businesses. If you’re a small business, it might mean keeping record of customers’ names, family members’ names, birth dates, anniversaries, hobbies, interests, and more. Each of these can be a source for you to contact the customer and remind them you exist. For example, a card or email to a customer for his or her birthday, might include a free gift. Setting google alerts for clients’ hobbies might give you a reason to send an email with a link to an article that might be of interest to him or her. When you’re staying in touch with customers, the goal is to prove you know them, care about them, and remember them, so they remember you too.
#2 – Identify your customers’ communication needs
It’s important that you find out WHAT they want to learn from you, HOW OFTEN they want to hear from you, and the WAY they want to receive communication. Some customers might prefer a phone call while others would like a text or email. Some of your customers might prefer their contact to be via Facebook while others might prefer Tweets. It’s important to communicate with customers in the way they prefer if you want them to respond to your communication. Finally, consider the FORM of communication (written, video, audio, etc.) as well. A recent survey by Hubspot showed that 54% of customers wanted to see video from brands or businesses they support. Additionally, the Content Marketing Institute found in 2018 that using the word video in a subject line boosted email open rates by 19 percent and click-through rates by 65 percent.
#3 – Stop selling all the time and instead focus on providing value
If the only time you communicate with a customer is to tell them about new products, special offers, or to push them to buy, they’re not going to want to stay in touch. However, if you provide content related to your business that’s of REAL value, they’ll really value you. For example, if you are a pet retailer or veterinarian, rather than just sending out communication about sales and specials, you could share the latest research on pet nutrition. You could also share pet-care advice for specific times of the year, such as caring for your dog’s feet when outdoors in the snow, keeping them cool while on walks in the summer, or maybe even creating an evacuation plan for your pets for hurricane season. Again, this would be advice and information, without a push to buy a specific product.
#4 – Create a communication calendar
By creating a month-by-month plan of what you’ll communicate, how, and when, the process of staying in touch becomes easier. When you create your plan, think “Reasons and Seasons.” By this I mean look at each month and ask, “What’s this month about? Is there a holiday this month, or a theme? Is there something you’d want them to be contacting you or making an appointment for? In December for example, you have Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. It’s also the end of the year and there are year-end activities your customers might need to be doing. However, it’s also when people start planning their New Year’s Resolutions – so you can get a jump start on those who wait until January to talk about this.
Finally, there are also a lot of fun and funny themes for just about every month of the year that you can play on for staying in touch with customers. Did you know January was International Creativity Month, April is National Poetry Month, and September is Classical Music Month? Think of opportunities you can play off of those themes to come up with a unique event or just a reason to touch base with clients.