A Call to Arms: Why You Should Call Your Customers
Customer service is about making connections. The business to customer bond can't be instantly created. Sometimes, a strong connection can be forged when a business goes above and beyond to satisfy a previously disgruntled customer. A feeling of trust can be instilled when businesses honestly take care of a customer's well being in an opportunity where they could have easily been overcharged. While cleaning out a condensate line isn't as profitable as an air handler replacement, when customers realize they have been treated with respect and dignity – that value over time + the boost to your reputation can have a much higher impact on your bottom line than that one single install.
However – just like any relationship, even the strongest trust and admiration cannot be maintained in silence. You have to constantly be working on your customer relationships to nurture them. Otherwise, if you never call or never write, they'll forget about that one time you came to their house at 3am to fix that leaky pipe – They'll just call the first plumber they find for their next project.
We've discussed a huge range of ways to communicate with your clients, including social media, email newsletters, direct mail marketing, thank you cards, holiday cards, print newsletters, and everything in between. There is one method that we haven't yet touched. Chances are it's in your pocket right now – or you're reading this on it now.
Before smartphones allowed you unfettered access to the cat videos and the other 80% of the world wide web – we had dumbphones. Let's go old school and talk about the value of simply checking in via a phone call.
Seriously – Who Calls Anymore?
Call it retro or what you will – but there is still power in a simple phone call. Most of the time, when people receive calls from a business, they are already mentally preparing for how to say no to a sales pitch. Throw a curveball. Don't call because you absolutely have to call – Call to say hello. Call to ask they are still satisfied with the services you previously provided. Call to thank them for being a customer. Just call.
Why You Should Call Your Customers – An Informal Case Study
We Called All Our Customers
As a marketing company, we are also in the same boat. Although we are first and foremost in the business of cultivating online marketing, we incidentally also need to maintain our business-to-business relationships. So concerning phone calls, this is a situation where we wanted to practice what we preach.
For the first quarter of 2017, our goal was to reach out and call every single Footbridge Media client – not to sell or push, but just to say hello. While we had been reaching out on a regular basis via email and completing thousands upon thousands of proactive and reactive tasks – we realized it's been awhile since we've just chatted with our client base.
The Roll Out
Calling all of our customers was a difficult task – We were trying to call each of our customers during what is generally a pretty busy time for our industry. Our Footbridge Media Account Managers completed a variety of cold calls and scheduled phone calls to talk shop, check in, and shoot the breeze – mostly during January and February.
What We Found
- Pick Up Your Phone!First things first – We found that an alarming number of companies didn't answer their phones for us. We've talked about this before, but it bears repeating. If you are a business with lots of competition, you can't afford to not pick up your phone. Especially if you are in the service industry, every missed call is a lost lead. You've got the time from when they hang up until when they dial the next contractor down the list to call back – after that, they are someone else's customer. Given that most people's main phone is their mobile device, you can no longer only pick up the phone for local area codes. If your business phone rings, answer it.
- Positive ReactionsIn the case of positive reactions to unscheduled calls, the overwhelming response was positive. After the call recipient realized who we were and that we weren't trying to specifically sell anything, most folks were pleasantly surprised by the phone call and thankful for the check in. In some instances, it happened to lead to additional work being done to the website – as it served as a reminder for some contractors to further utilize their Individual Project Post or Specials sections of their website with updated content.
Our favorite responses were ones that said, "While I appreciate the phone call, we're so busy here with work that we can't chat right now!" Hearing that our clients are flush with work opportunities is the best that we could hope for.
- Negative ReactionsThese were far and few between, but some clients noted they were displeased with a portion of the service; in these instances, it was generally around a communication problem – so the phone call itself helped to remedy the situation and ensured we had the best contact person name, phone, and email information on record to fix those situations. Calling gave us an opportunity to repair and rebuild these relationships – an opportunity we would not have had otherwise.
The Take Away
While it was definitely a time consuming experience, it was incredibly worthwhile for us to reach out and thank our customers for being there. It helped us to re-establish regular communication with old friends and clients – and ultimately, that's why you should call your customers. Authentically reaching out to our contractors helped to reinforce our previously forged relationships, which encourages additional communication. Additional communication helps us to grow each client's online marketing presence, which helps to improve optimization and ultimately build each contractor's business – so it is a win-win all around!
In the end, that's why you should call your customers – it is absolutely worth it to call your past customers and thank them. If your business has seasonal lulls, making a few phone calls every day is a great opportunity to stay in touch with your client base.
About Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan is the Managing Editor of Footbridge Media. With a background in web design, print design, and online marketing, Chris is focused on providing quality marketing and business solutions in the construction and service industries - helping small business owners to more efficiently manage their company and grow their operations.