We all know how important it is to follow up with a client after we do the work. The question is how to do it well. One of my newsletter subscribers asked me to address this issue. Actually, her exact words were, “What is a good way to word a follow up email once you’ve shipped?” So, here we go!
The first thing I’m going to say is this – don’t follow up via email. Follow up with a phone call. The client matters to you. The work you do matters to you. Don’t leave the follow up to misinterpretation or getting lost in the massive amount of email people get. Unless a client prefers email as the means of communication, do yourself a favor and call them on the phone. You want them to hear your tone of voice, your confidence. An email can’t do that for you. In addition, if there was a problem, you want to be able to address it immediately. I’m not sure you can do that through email as effectively as via phone.
The second thing I’m going to say is the sooner the better. I think you should check in within a week of the order; ideally within 2 days. If you want to be sure everything went well, be sure as soon as possible. That way if something went wrong you are right on it. It shows caring and strength.
When you do call, what do you say? There is the fear that you’ll sound like you aren’t sure whether you delivered a quality product. Or that you are fearful something went wrong. You think that you want to show confidence in your work but if you call to check in it will somehow be interpreted as insecurity.
I believe it is critically important to communicate with your clients before, during and after the sale. You can pre-empt any discomfort by letting your clients know your process – and that the follow up call is simply part of it. That way they will expect it and won’t think twice about why you are calling.
Your clients want to know that you care. They want to know that you aren’t just in it for the sale; you’re in it for the long haul. And that means you are going to be sure everything went according to plan. Things happen; life can get in the way. It’s not unusual and I think most people respect that sometimes circumstances beyond your control can impact the job you do. Don’t you want to know as quickly as possible whether there was a hiccup? That way you can deal with it head on. In addition, the follow up call gives you the opportunity to communicate with the client one more time. You can use this opportunity to deepen the relationship, and possibly find out about the next need.
Imagine if you didn’t follow up on a project. You either assumed everything went according to plan, or you were uncomfortable calling to check. And now imagine that something did go wrong. The client knows it because they’ve experienced it. You, however, have no idea. And because you aren’t calling to follow up, you won’t find out until you try to sell them something else. When they don’t take your call you’re in trouble!
So, while this may feel uncomfortable, it is, in my opinion, a critical step in the sales process. It is also a place where words matter. You can phrase the follow up call in a way that lets your client know exactly where you are coming from. You can let them know that you gave the account your all and are confident everything went well. AND that you know that sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Because they matter to you, you want to be sure they are completely happy with the end product.
Here are a couple of examples of phrasing that works:
1. Vendor: Our standard procedure is to produce the product, ship it, and give you a call within the week to confirm everything was to your liking.
2. Vendor on the follow up call: Hi it’s Diane. Just checking in as promised. The product is great, isn’t it?
Now this is a very confident tone and may be uncomfortable for some people. It really depends on how you say these words. You can laugh as you say it so there’s levity. You can ask it as a serious question. You can say it strongly.
3. Vendor on the follow up call: Hi, it’s Diane. Just checking in on the job we just finished for you. From our end it couldn’t have been better. Because your business is very important to us, we want to be sure everything went as you expected.
4. Vendor on the follow up call with a regular client: Hi, it’s Diane. Just making sure this job went as well as all the previous jobs and that you are thrilled! We never want to assume success, even when everything looks perfect.
Do you see what I’m doing? I’m letting them know I am confident that we did a great job AND asking if they feel the same way. I’m letting them know I care about them and the work we do for them. I’m not hiding hoping they won’t call. I’m hitting it head-on. Most likely they have a policy within their company to check with their clients, so following up won’t seem odd.
When you care enough to do the best job you can, you care enough to make sure the client is completely happy with the results. You are confident in your work, so you are confident enough to ask the question. You’ll be respected for it. And the client will really know that you care about their business.
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