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19-Nov-2014
It's all in the follow-up


When dealing with business to business (B2B) interactions, expectations are often set after the first transaction. It is up to the business owner to meet those customer expectations every time to maintain the positive B2B relationship. It’s not always easy being on your A-game as a business owner. We all have personal days that can affect our mood and attitude. But, it is important to instill customer service expectations in your staff.


Whether it is responding to customer emails when an order has been received or calling to remind people of their appointments, if your business has established expectations, it is important to continue that practice with each and every transaction.


In my former line of work as an executive assistant, there were endless calls and emails from people inquiring whether a message had been passed on or the request for an appointment had been made.


While recently working with a vendor, their business practices set my expectations. They usually sent an email when they received my order. It provided me with peace of mind, knowing my message was received and my order placed. This time, however, I did not receive a reply. I didn’t want to be the annoying customer, justifying my position to wait for a reply. ‘Waiting’ began to make me uncomfortable, so I contacted the vendor. This time my email had been received and the order placed. But it left me with the question, “Why didn’t you acknowledge my email?”


A precedent had been set:  I emailed, they replied. This was how it worked.


Follow-up to one person can be interpreted differently by the next, depending on the position in the food chain. In my former position, I received the communication from the inquiring customer. Frequently my boss did not have a desire to do business with the customer and chose not to follow-up with the vendor. In my current position, I am the customer. When I did not get a reply, I began to worry this vendor had no desire to do business with me.

What should I do? I need assurance, I need . . . follow-up.


An obvious answer to my situation is to talk to the vendor and explain my position. Sounds easy. This is the course of action I will likely take. But what about those who have similar scenarios and the situation dictates a different approach?


“When someone purchases a product or service no matter how small, they want to receive something acknowledging that purchase. If they’re not receiving anything from you, they’re more likely to reconsider and possibly regret the purchase. This should be done immediately following the purchase so they know you are excited to be working with them.” - 5 Ways Your Follow-up Failure is Costing You Major Money, automationheros.com.


As a business owner or manager, if you have customers who express their expectations are not being met, consider taking the following steps:

1. Determine what type of follow-up your business needs.
2. Brainstorm with your team the sequence of steps needed for follow-up.
3. Build a sequence outline for follow-up procedure.

Choosing not to or failing to follow-up on an email or an appointment may seem insignificant, but its impact can be larger than imagined. Failing to have a system in place for follow-up to event registrations, marketing campaigns or surveys is even worse. It may lead to loss of loyal customers, or potentially deter new ones, and no one wishes for that. Differentiate yourself from your competition by meeting your customers’ expectations and following through with your follow-up.


About the Author

Amy Peirce
Founder/Owner, Stories in Time

Amy Peirce is the founder and owner of Stories in Time, a personal history business reflective of her passion and dedication to preserving life stories.


  



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