It’s important to create a customer contact plan for your business. Why? This will help you get more business and referrals from your existing customers.
About customer contact plans
A customer contact plan is like setting up a drip irrigation system for a garden you want to make sure gets watered frequently so the flowers and plants flourish: You want your customers and contacts to grow and flourish, too. You intentionally think through and plan for how to contact customers with the most relevant messages, delivered at the right time and according to their preferences, using the type of “irrigation” that’s most appropriate. Don’t wait until you need new business or customers to do this. Your customers should feel nurtured all the time.
You need to contact your customers and prospects with a relevant message at least six times a year. Once a month is better to stay top-of-mind.
Your customer contact plan should use different communication “channels” like:
- A monthly or quarterly email newsletter – best if you create different versions of your email newsletter that will be most relevant to particular customer segments. For example, one version to prospects; another to new clients/customers; another to established/loyal customers/clients. There are lots of ways you can slice and dice your customer list to create the most relevant for each customer segment.
- Invitations to events, seminars, webinars
- Posts to your blog, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn
- Direct mail postcards or letters
- A personal phone call, text message, email or handwritten note
Some warnings about customer contact plans
Do not rely on social media posts as the primary way to communicate with your customers and prospects. Why?
1. Not everyone participates in social media. Only the “social media butterflies” are on all the social media platforms every day. Those active and engaged social media people will be a tiny fraction of your entire customer/client and prospect list.
2. At least 50% of people don’t check in to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts frequently enough to see a post you made one day. Think of social media posts like buying radio advertising – you have to have enough frequency for someone to actually see your post.
Facebook is a great way to alert fans about what’s happening with your business, but it shouldn’t be the primary way you communicate with your prospects and customers. Why?
If you send someone something in the mail, it will be delivered to them and they’ll have an opportunity to open and read what you send them.
If you call someone on the phone, they can choose to take your call or not if they have caller ID. And they can choose to listen to your voice mail message or not.
If you send someone a text message, they’ll get it. They may be annoyed that you sent them a text (or not), depending on what you send them.
If you create and maintain an email list of your customers and prospects, most people will get your email. Some will get it in their junk mail if they haven’t approved you as a safe sender and some people will have changed their email address or given you their “junk email address” and so they won’t see your message.
If you pay to advertise on the radio, the radio station will guarantee an audience who will have the “opportunity to hear” your radio commercial. You are guaranteed a specific number of people will have the radio on. They may not choose to listen to your commercial because they are talking on the phone or doing something else that is distracting them.
With Facebook, only the people who are on Facebook within a few hours of you making your status update will have the opportunity to see your message. Let’s say your business has 500 “fans”. Then, at best, maybe 250 of them may see your status update. You’ll reach far fewer people than you would through the mail, a phone call, text message or email.
What works best in small business marketing is something like the marketing “echo effect” when someone has the opportunity to see/hear/read your message through different “channels” (a phone call, an email, an ad, a Facebook post, etc.).
From our experience: You always need to be filling the funnel and nurturing your existing customers and prospects. A customer contact plan is the key way to ensure you are doing this.
Treat customers and clients the way you want to be treated, applies to creating an effective customer contact plan
For professional services, no one likes to be sold to. What they might like…
- Someone checking in on how they are doing
- Sharing some relevant information that will help them
- Asking what’s happening in their life or business
- Telling them about how to save money, save time or make money
- Congratulating them on something happening in their life or business
Yes, it’s counter-intuitive. Don’t sell. Stay top-of-mind as genuinely caring about them. Let them ask you when they want to buy something.
For consumer products/services…you may not be able to have as “high touch” of an approach but you can aim for at least being relevant, can’t you?
That may mean more work to create different versions of your email newsletters and offering customers choices for what information they want to receive. Think of how people go through a salad bar. Everyone picks out what they want on their plate and every plate looks different.
TIP: The best customer contact plans are tailored to an individual and their contact preferences. Ask people to “opt in” and “opt out” of different ways to contact them.
Some people love getting text messages; others will say no way do they want you texting them. Some people are email-centric; others don’t check email or even have an email. Some people want printed information sent to them; others think that’s bad for the environment. Some people prefer personal contact through a phone call and others would rather get an email. One plan for how to contact customers/clients should not be pushed on everyone, especially if you want to differentiate yourself and have anyone actually read (more likely scan) what you send to them.
Customer contact plans help you keep customers/clients
The top reasons customers never return to give you repeat business:
1. They have a bad experience
2. They don’t feel special, important, valued.
3. They are not encouraged (reminded) to return or buy again
4. They bought on a price-off deal and don’t see the value of the full price product/service
Developing a customer contact plan can address #2 and #3 on this list to help you keep more customers/clients.