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Last month I gave you some ideas on keeping the verbal lines of communications open with your customers. As promised, this time I'll be covering some ideas on staying in touch in writing, a lost form of communication for some businesses. Whether electronic or paper, written communication is still one of the best ways to reach out and stay in touch with your customers. How you do so will determine many things, among them, the quality of the relationship you maintain with your customers.
We're All Human
The basis for solid business communication is the understanding that a critical element in the process is the human being. In her book, The Voice of Authority, Dianna Booher reminds us that, "New technology appears and disappears from the scene. The one constant is human interaction." When you add this important aspect to your communications, you create a more concrete bond with the customer. Relate to them as a person and you become more real to them, rather than just another company trying to win their business. This doesn't mean you drop all the professionalism and get so informal as to confuse your customer - it simply means adding a caring, human tone to your correspondence, one that an every day text message might miss.
Personalizing your written business communications has been shown to really add to the bottom line. InformationWeek conducted a study of 375 business managers and IT managers; of those that personalize all communications with their customers, 39% report a significant increase in their e-business revenue. There are similar studies in the paper world, but the reality is if you can reach the customer on a more personal level, they respond. And personalization isn't just about using someone's name; mailed letters, handwritten thank you's, even a brief note attached to an article you found - these are all smart ways of staying in touch with your customer in a more meaningful way and building a relationship centered on the customer and their needs.
While electronic communication might be one of the easier ways to stay in touch with your customers, it can also spell disaster if you do so too infrequently or not frequently enough. A key consideration needs to be the relevancy of your correspondence - are you keeping the customer at the center of your offer or are you bragging about your company? The latter will likely end you up in the trash. Electronic newsletters and offers must be something your customer can use and should be sent at least quarterly to stay top of mind with them. These pieces need to be concise and mindful that your customer is running a small business; they might not have much time to read a long piece. Provide links for them to get more information and always give them a way to opt out of your mailing. If you're having a sale, make it easy for them to order and leave out the gimmicks - that goes double for rebates. Small businesses don't want to sift through the ins and outs of an offer. What's the best way to determine how often to send offers or information electronically? Ask your customer!
Communicating with your customer is the building block for establishing a lasting relationship with them. Be there throughout the sales cycle and long past, keeping them up to date and aware of changes, great deals and ideas that will help them continue to thrive. Doing this makes you a resource for them and creates a repeat customer for you.
Labels: Deb Kolaras