Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder...
By Janice Byer, CCVA, MVA
Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services
However, in the world of business, this cliché may not necessarily be true. Sometimes it can be more like 'Out of Site, Out of Mind'.
Your existing clients are your most important business assets. They are already aware of the exceptional products or services that you provide and you have already built a trust with them.
These happy clients will be the first to recommend you and your business to others that may be in need of your services or products. It is essential to build a lasting relationship and keep in touch with these influential people…keep your name fresh in their minds. They have become 'business friends' and what kind of friend would you be if you didn't stay in touch.
There are several ways to build a loyal and lasting relationship with your clients, besides the exceptional customer service and support that you are already providing. You need to set yourself apart from the competition and give customers something that will keep your business in the front of their minds, thus producing repeat and referral business.
Your first step is to ensure that you make your client feel like they are number one. This should be something that you strive for with every client you acquire. Sure, there may be some that will take this to heart and put excessive demands on you when you are really needing to get work done for your other clients, but the majority of them will be just like friends and supporters and you need to show them that you appreciate them. You need them to know that they are not just clients, but that they are a value to you and your business.
A great way to get the ball rolling is to send a letter thanking the client for the chance to provide them with a quotation and let them know that you are here to help, if they need it. Include, with the letter, a copy of your brochure, any specials that you currently have running and, of course your business card.
Once the quotation has been accepted and you both agree on the details of the project, it's time to send a Thank You card. If the new client is a local business owner, send a card with a hand-written note and, of course your business card. If the quote is for an online client, you can send a hand-written note or try going to one of many greeting card sites and sending a personalized electronic card. My personal favorite is http://www.bluemountain.com. This is a nice touch as opposed to just a buttered up email.
After the project has been completed, I like to send a personalized, hand-written note on suitable stationery.
Now, where to go from here? Just because this particular project is finished, it doesn't mean that you should just put their file away and forget about them. On the contrary… you have to stay in touch with them. If they have used your services and are very happy with the outcome, they will probably need you in the future, or know someone who does.
If you happen to have the client's birth date, send them a nice card on their special day. If you don't have that date, there are still other ways to stay in touch. One is to send a card on special holidays, such as Christmas. With these special holiday cards, it is not recommended that you send a business card with it. These type of cards should show that you care and don't have an ulterior motive to your action.
So, what about the rest of the year? They say that you need to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of some opportunities. But if you aren't in the right place, the forefront of you client's mind when they may need your services, you may lose out. You need to keep in touch with them throughout the year. You need to send them something that they will hang onto.
The most cost effective way to do this is to send them a newsletter. If you have a business that is online and you have cyberspace clients, start an online ezine and send it out on a regular basis. Fill it full of great links and articles to help your clients. And, it doesn't hurt to mention their business in an issue. For local clients, put together a print version of your newsletter and keep them informed about what is happening with your company and your other clients. Again, putting a free mention about their business will be something that they will really appreciate.
Staying in touch with you clients and contacts is vital for repeat and referral business. When the time comes that they, or someone they know, are in need of your product or service, make sure that they remember you, your business and how you can help them.