Pretty much everything that we do here at Thrive centres around communication - digital, design, development and all of those sub-services too!
...And from another perspective, account management!
Communicating with customers should be a constant - it should be part of your company's DNA. Even when you think you have nothing to say, communication provides a constant touchpoint, it lets people know that not only are you still there, you're still thinking of them and you're there when they need you to be.
As with all things though, moderation and relevance are the 'watch words'! communicating regularly is the right thing to do, but many go over the top and potential rewards are turned into negatives. How many of us have switched off from messages that we feel are too frequent, irrelevant, or spammy? We all embraced GDPR opt-out emails because it allowed us to have a good inbox 'clear out'.
When done in moderation, keeping customers (past, present and potential) informed about what is going on with your business is a sustaining force in maintaining a healthy relationship with your customer base.
And here's why, when done correctly, it's worth making the effort to keep people informed...
1. We're all secretly quite nosy!
Just as a large proportion of the success of social media is down to its ability to satisfy curiosity in persona lives, so too the business community is inquisitive. This is especially true in an environment where we expect people to spend money in return for our services and products. Sharing information about developments, news, offers and even challenges involves people in your business life, they feel more (to coin an Americanism) 'invested' and this inclusive approach builds bonds and relationships.
2. Take a frown and turn it upside down!
None of us likes it when something doesn't go according to plan. We work hard to make sure that projects reach deadlines, standards and deliverables - but there is nothing worse (or more unforgivable) than a client telling you of a problem rather than the other way around.
As a business owner or employee, it is your responsibility to keep track of your projects and to make sure that communication is clear and honest. None of us likes to be a 'harbinger of doom' but if you identify an issue, it is much better to alert involved parties at the earliest opportunity (with a proposed solution too). By taking a proactive approach, customers are much more likely to work with you, be understanding and, give you the opportunity to rescue the situation and hopefully earn bonus points for being so 'on the ball' and responsible.
Ignoring a situation can only be detrimental - customers notice everything so don't think that you can sweep it under the carpet! If you do, they will show no mercy, be inflexible on timeframes and solutions and the relationship will be irreversibly damaged (if not destroyed).
3. We all like an easy life!
You need to assume that, for whatever reason, customers prefer to take the path of least resistance - we all prefer to engage with something which improves our lot in life without engaging a huge amount of effort. You, therefore, need to do as much of the work as possible in your relationship with your client - it is down to you to make sure that if there is something that they need to know, you tell them. Never rely on them to find it out for themselves. An example of this might be as simple as making sure that you communicate your availability - if they come looking for you, they find that you are on holiday or are closed unexpectedly, there's a possibility that they may go elsewhere and once they find an alternative, they may not return.
4. On the radar?
You may be selling something that is not a regular purchase - here, relationships and communication take on even greater relevance and importance. A variety of media can help here - information that is there as and when needed, or which is popping up on their radar in a relevant, timely manner. This just keeps you there in the back of their mind so that, hopefully, when a need arises for something that you can help with or supply, you're in their mind!
5. One for all and all for one!
Your company's entire focus, at every level and at every point in your process, needs to be customer-centric - this is absolutely the case if you've got your buyer personas correctly identified and you are doing business with the 'right' people. As business owners, we often invest a great deal of time, resource and money in acquiring clients, it's foolish to then essentially throw this away by alienating, ignoring or behaving in a less than attentive way towards them, once they've made their first purchase.
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
Source: Outbound Engine
In brief, put your customers first, at every stage of the cycle... Be a 'Care Bear' and make them feel special, treat them with respect and when it's been a while, remind them you're still around!