WHO are the service providers that you remember the most? Who are the salesmen you consider the most sincere? It is very likely that they are the ones who follow up on their transactions with phone calls, e-mails and even face-to-face visits.

The impact of the effort to check back on your customers after they buy from you is huge! But many of us miss this opportunity to connect with our customers at an even deeper level.

Why follow-up?

It is a small effort but many salesmen or service providers do not make follow-up calls to customers because they are constantly moving forward, chasing the next transaction. They are occupied with meeting sales targets, finding the next customer or bagging the next “deal”.

Some sales people see re-connecting with a customer as a wasted effort since they have already claimed the commission and need to focus on new business. To me, this attitude is a little short-sighted. While it may be true that there may not be an immediate return on a follow-up call, think of it as an investment of your time to win the customer’s loyalty.

Customer appreciation

When you make a follow-up call soon after the transaction, the customer will appreciate your effort and sincerity. He will feel that you are not calling on him simply to push a sale. He will feel that you have a genuine interest in him — and he will react positively to you. You are encouraging his loyalty.

Develop a system

You need to develop a system in which follow-up calls become part of your standard operating procedure. Leave it to chance and you may miss the opportunity or forget about it altogether.

Set aside time to do your customer follow-ups, either on a daily or weekly basis, and then stick religiously to your schedule.

Here are several suggestions for organising your follow-up system:

* Paper, pencil, list

You don’t have to be high-tech about this. You can create your list in a good, old-fashioned notebook. Simply draw a box in your “to do” list and label it “follow up”.

* Electronic

You can programme a follow-up reminder in your mobile phone, computer, electronic organizer, and so on. Whatever the gadget, the outcome is the same — an electronic alert to help you organise whom you are seeing or calling and when you have to do it.

* Pick a card

Many insurance agents (especially the more senior among us) use this manual but highly effective system.

This is a box full of index cards that are separated by months and, subsequently, weeks. Each client or customer has a card with their name and details on it.

What you do is to write all the information you gather from your conversations with each client on their respective cards. You then commit to making a follow-up call one month after your last meeting. If it was on Aug 25, you then place their card in the box in the section marked the week of Sept 25.

At the beginning of each week, look at the cards for the week and make the necessary follow-up calls, e-mails or visits. Trust me, your customers will be impressed.

Your effort to get back to the customer will engage him. He will appreciate your effort, and this engagement will lead him to tell others about you. A delighted customer will market your products and services for you and give you publicity you cannot buy.