Myla asks, “How often do we need to check in with our good customers so that they don’t forget us?”
Our good customers are good customers because we’ve become trusted business advisors. We’ve sort of earned the right to be a little bit closer to that client. Should we always check the logistics of what we’re doing? And it feeds into your question. I’m actually asking a client before we get to a solution, I want to know how we did getting that solution to you. See, I sold copiers for a long time. I knew my copier was a good copier. Xerox makes good copiers. And so again, it leads us to, in terms of follow-up, always starting with that logistical question. And part of that logistics to feed into the question you asked me might very well be, “I want to stay on top of this account and you’re very important to me.” But every client handles it differently. “Walk me through the perfect relationship, the perfect communication.” And again, I don’t think a client’s gonna scratch their head and go, “I have no idea.” They’ve probably got something right here. Let’s flush it out and let them lead us down that path.
I think it’s important to have, not the mentality of checking in but to have a cadence and mentally thinking about how you can automate check-ins and how you can stay top of mind. So don’t think about this as check-ins, think about this as top of mind, right? So top of mind is important, first of all, to get more referrals from the customer. To keep them around longer. To make sure that they know they’re getting value. And lastly, potential upsells or cross-sells. Right? And so if you check in every time and you have this check in mentality, the person on the other end, you know, human beings are pretty smart. They’re intuitive. They’re gonna know when someone’s checking in, it’s for X reason, right? But when you have a constant cadence, that’s where I think sales and marketing really do well together.
So what I mean by a sales check-in would be, every three months, every month, every two weeks, whatever interval, right? Where I think on the marketing side, it’s not a check-in. It’s a drip campaign. Where you’re consistently like, “Hey, client, I’m gonna just let you know, do you mind if I just get you, I’m gonna send you a personal newsletter every week on what’s happening, the stuff we’re writing, behind the scenes news.” Now you don’t have a check-in point, you have a cadence of education and value, value, value, value. And now the client’s responsible for responding back. So now it’s like, oh, this maybe one email of your cadence got that potential client or client’s attention and they’re responding back. So now it’s on them to respond back when the triggers are hit.
I believe once a person is your customer, you are their new business friend. You see, a lot of companies are interested in customer loyalty. But they’re interested in receiving it. What a backwards idea that is! I’ve had people say, “Jim, come in and do training to teach us how to get our customers to be more loyal to us.” No, no, no, no. Customer loyalty is not something you go get. It’s something you give. See, when I buy from you, I expect you to be loyal to me. I just bought from you for heavens sakes. I’m paying for this privilege. So you’re my new business friend. Behave accordingly!
One of my favourite examples is a coffee shop in West Lake Village, California. I may have shared this on a previous broadcast. But I went into this coffee shop every day for 15 years, and the reason I went to that one was, one, it was a convenient location, but more important than number one was they had a flavour of the day. Not coffee where they poured syrup in it, but coffee that was flavoured while it was still in the bean and it just had that little subtle hint of vanilla flavouring to it. So I went there every day and I had my vanilla coffee. And it was just the flavour of the day, black coffee. And I brought business friends there for lunch. When someone said, “Let’s meet,” I would say, “Instead of meeting at the office, why don’t you join me over there at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf?” Okay. And so I went there, I don’t know, eight or nine times a week? So I was a regular customer. I knew everybody. I knew the other customers, knew all the staff.
And one day I went in and I said, “I’d like my usual, a medium size flavoured coffee.” “Oh, we don’t do flavour of the day any more.” “You don’t? Why not? You still sell the flavoured coffee?” “Oh yeah, you can buy it by the bag.” “Well why don’t you prepare it?” The girl said, “I don’t know. It was our best seller. It was a corporate decision.” I said, “Wait a minute. This is your best selling product, fresh brewed flavour of the day.” “Yeah.” “And a corporate decision was made to discontinue offering it.” “Yeah.” I said, “Did you tell corporate, ‘That doesn’t work for us, we’re making money on this?'” “Yeah, they don’t care.” I said, “Okay, give me the address.”
So I wrote to corporate, they wrote me back the expected letter. They said, “Okay, okay, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll continue to offer flavoured coffee, but only ’til 11:00.” I said, “So you don’t want my business for lunch?” See what I’m talking about? Customer loyalty should be from them to me. If they want my business, keep on offering what I’m buying. Especially if it’s profitable for you. But some coffee snob at the headquarters said, “No, that’s not the way to drink coffee.” And so they lost my business and gained my criticism. Here I am in an international broadcast, criticising them for the choice they made. When I should be praising them as my favourite spot like I used to for 15 years. I was loyal, they weren’t.
This depends on the frequency of communication before you actually did the deal with them. So what I mean is, if you close them on the phone, get the credit card details, and hang up, that moment they’ve hung up they have no idea what your name is. They’re expecting the product and they’re hopefully gonna get an email from you to follow up, because otherwise they’ve probably got no way of communicating with you back and forth ’cause they probably don’t know your name, they probably don’t know the company, and they certainly don’t know your communication details. So on that front, you need a tone of frequency to go back and forth with them to build that relationship up.
Now on the other hand, which in my background [inaudible] is it could take 12 months of dealing with the same people two or three times a week to get a theatre refurbishment, to get a whole tonne of camera systems in there, to do a two hundred thousand, five hundred thousand pound deal. So, you don’t need to check in all that often because you’re in their sphere of influence at this point. If you’ve been doing that for six to twelve months, going back and forth, and they like you, clearly this is a prerequisite to all of this, you don’t need to check in all that often to refill that know, like, and trust bucket, if you see it as that. We’ve got a bucket of know, like, and trust. It’s got a little hole at the bottom of it, and it’s just tinkling out.
If you don’t go back to them within 12 months, then they’re gonna forget you. If you go back to them every month, just give them a call, ask them how it’s going, especially if you sold them something, you want to take on that customer service role. You want to fill in the gap between customer service monkey sitting in an office, spamming out emails, reports, asking for referrals on the marketing side of things. You want to fill that gap. And then the consultant gap which is, you ring them up and say, “Hey, how’s it going? Hope it’s all going well.”
And again, this is where referrals come from. When they’re happy, they’ve been using the software, the service, the product, they’ve been driving the vehicle, whatever it is. They’ve been doing it for six months. That’s when they go, “Oh, hey, Bob my mate is looking for something similar. I’m glad you called. I’m glad you’re top of mind.” Because you’re just the person he needs to speak to.
The trick to staying in touch with your good customers so they don’t forget you is to find balance. Just like any other relationship, you want to make sure that you maintain that connection but you don’t want to come across as a stalker, right? If you’re calling them every week without a need, that’s too much. I really think that using digital communication for those light touches, again. It could be social media, it could be email, it could be your company newsletter. It could be just forwarding them an article that you found that you’re like, “Hey, this might be interesting to you.” Doing that let’s say, once or twice a month is good. And then if they’re really a good customer, reach out to them. Give them a call. Shoot them an email. Send them a quick handwritten note, maybe once a quarter. And then maybe once or twice a year, try to get in front of them in the real world. Ask them to lunch. Invite them to an event you have. I think that’s what works well.