Opinion by Thought Leaders
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Why Communication Follow Up is Critically Important

 

The follow-up: it's been a mainstay of the business world for decades. But this gesture of courtesy seems to be going by the wayside more and more. Could be a generational thing, or it could be because we're increasingly being pulled in all kinds of work, digital and social directions. But more on that later. For now...why is communication follow up so critical in the business world, not just among executive leaders but at all levels of an organization?

As Chron puts it so well, it's not so much that communication isn't occurring (it is), but the deficiency lies more in the follow up. A critical communication skill is honing the ability to learn to identify the deliverables or follow up tasks that all parties may have previously agreed to, affirm commitment to those tasks and then follow through to ensure the tasks and commitments have indeed been carried out. Without the second half of that equation, there is no accountability. Without accountability, what is the purpose of having a plan in the first place?

Follow up is vital because it:

  • Keeps everyone accountable.
  • Ensures stated tasks get done in a timely manner.
  • Expresses renewed interest in the matter at hand, as well as the people involved.
  • Shows you care enough to check up on the status.
  • Displays integrity and strength of character -- two big qualities in business.
  • Reiterates the plan so everyone can review each task or deliverable.
  • Ensures everyone is on the same page.
  • Reduces the chance of mistakes and misleading statements.
  • Keeps you front of mind for your clients.


People are being reduced to commodities, says Entrepreneur so eloquently. In today’s marketplace, you have to be different. You have to stand out. How can you do this? Get great at follow-up. It's becoming a lost art but you don't have to be resigned to that fate. The heart and soul of the follow up in communication is "connection." You want to maintain a business connection, of course, but you also want to maintain that personal connection, that special something that ties you to another person. Pay attention, gather information and then use it for the follow up. If you're following up with a client, for instance, state the reason for your follow up, but also touch on something personal. Ask how their daughter is feeling if the last time you spoke your client mentioned her child was home with the flu. Ask about that vacation they took to that resort you recommended.

These are all connections, and they matter.

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Why the Customer Experience is All That

 

We’ve seen more recently that customers are quick to provide their own survey or opinion on their latest customer experience with a product or service they purchased. You only have to wait a couple of minutes after the customer has left the store and it been blasted on social media or left in a Google Review. You’re either lucky or not so lucky, depending on the customer’s experience if it goes viral or not. Regardless, you’ve lost at least one lifelong customer, if not hundreds or thousands more.

In Shaun Belding’s article, “The $62 Billion Reason to Improve Your Customer Experience”, he explained how United Airlines lost $770 million dollars in just a few days when a video of Dr. David Dao being dragged out of his seat went viral. All it took was one person to share the video on social media with a few key followers and the wildfire was set in motion. It’s important that you are putting your customers’ needs and request first, whether a mistake was made with their order, or how they felt they were treated with their service. Always remember that a customer is minutes away from raving or raging about their customer experience in a Google Review or on social media.


Love Your Customers

Of course, there are a few people that no matter how you try and right a situation (sometimes there really was no situation to begin with) will always blast a negative opinion on social media. That’s why it’s important to proactively provide that positive initial interaction with them, whether it’s their first or one-hundredth time. Your demeanor means everything in terms of conversing and interact with them.

For best results, it’s best to put yourself in your customer’s shoes so you can better understand them and empathize with their need or struggle. Being in that consumer-mindset will help you believe in doing the right thing when it comes to your customers, or the people you are trying to help. Keep in mind that we are all human and mistakes do happen. Whether you are the provider or receiver of a product or service, let’s keep this in mind and always try and make the best of everything. Remember, we have one mouth, but two ears. Listen more. Acknowledge any mix-up, provide (or accept) the apology and move the conversation into the next positive phase of the transaction, most importantly the relationship.


Measure the Customer Experience

In order to continue to build your brand’s attraction and loyalty, a positive customer experience is the key each and every time. There is no exception. Your customers are your best marketing and salespeople for your business! Once you understand and embrace this, you will be on your way to growing a strong flourishing business with continued referrals for years to come. The same goes for a negative experience. Not only could you lose that customer, but many others that may know or read about their poor experience. Keep the following in mind as you measure the customer experience:

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