It’s hard work getting new clients. From the time it takes to initiate contact, spark an interest, build rapport through to receiving payment it’s usually a matter of weeks or months for most businesses to secure a new customer.
But then what. Many businesses focus on the acquisition journey again – needs must after all.
While some do a brilliant job of staying in touch with their new customers, some forget all about them and the effort it took. Yet it’s the period just after sale where customer loyalty is being built and the chance of referrals is highest. A customer who is happy with their purchase and pleased with the after sale service is more likely to speak to friends, family and contacts about it.
There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from making a referral to a business you’ve just purchased from and those that can tap into this have a much easier time of getting new customers, retaining the ones they have and ultimately being more successful.
The reality though is it’s often hard to keep that same personal relationship that was developed at the beginning. Even if you start out as well meaning it can be hard to stay in touch. You get busy again and thinking of different ways to make contact – whilst staying genuine to the customer needs – is tricky, especially if your first few efforts go seemingly unnoticed. It feels like you’re an interruption and you don’t want to become annoying.
Here’s where email automation can help. That it’s slightly impersonal is a good thing. Most people can tell when they’ve received an automated email but equally most don’t mind if it’s from a business they’ve just purchased from and the material is genuinely helpful. In fact, according to research agency Econsultancy more than 60% now prefer automated emails over personal contact as it hands control of the action sequence to the customer. It’s a more effective use of your time too.
Here’s some ideas to improve that first customer experience, all of which you can set to trigger on timing or an action on most automation systems:
1.Send a welcome email.
First impressions count and welcome emails have a very high open rate – over 70%. Just as you would when you meet someone in person for the first time now’s the chance to show your best side. Thank the customer for supporting your company, give a full intro to your other services or products, provide links to other helpful content or FAQ’s, suggestions for related products or services (think Amazon), or a membership offer if you have one.
If you have lots to get across consider breaking up your material into a sequence of emails, just make sure it’s always helpful to customer – not an excuse to send another email. The welcome message is about making the customer feel connected to who you are, what you do and what they can expect from your company.
2.Remind them when it’s time to buy again.
Doctors and dentists have done this forever without being labelled as sales masters! Being educational not pushy is the key. If you are selling a subscription service or a product that requires a renewal then using automated emails to remind customers when it’s time to purchase again and why it’s good for them, is better than having a sales rep call up or sending out a reminder note in the mail.
It’s better to be proactive here rather than wait in hope. Try finding a dentist that doesn’t recommend regular checkups!
3.Ask for feedback.
Listen then act on it. If you’re genuine about wanting to improve customer experience then there’s only one set of people you can ask for feedback. But it’s usually best to stick to a short survey or list of questions. You may get some quirky answers and it’s important not to try and please everyone, so wait till you have a critical mass of responses before addressing a change. Typically you can group responses together, so long as the questions are specific enough.
For those that help you by responding, it’s good to send a further thank you note or follow up. You’ll find people are happy to provide feedback so long they think it’s being listened to.
Depending on your business, you can supplement your email automation with some personal contact in between and this will really boost customer satisfaction, loyalty and referrals. The personal communication can be to nurture the personal relationship, the automation is informative and educational. If you get the right mix you’ll be on the path to repeat business.