It’s tempting to concentrate on making new sales or pursuing bigger accounts. But attention to your existing customers, no matter how small they are, is equally essential to keeping your business thriving. The secret to repeat business and strong customer relationships is following up in a way that has a positive effect on the customer.

Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sale, when you call the customer to say “thank you” and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service. Of course, with internet marketing, a friendly email is like a nice phone call. Beyond this, there are several effective ways to follow up that ensure your business is always in the customer’s mind. Let’s take a look at how to build strong customer relationships!

1. Let customers know what you are doing for them. This can be in the form of a newsletter mailed to existing customers, or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whichever method you use, the key is to point out to customers what excellent service you are giving them. Be blunt; be blatant.

If you never mention all the things you are doing for them, customers may not notice. You are not being cocky when you talk to customers about all the work you have done to please them. Just make a phone call or send a friendly email and let them know they you’ve done everything.

2. Write old customers personal, hand-written notes frequently. “I saw your name on one of my important lists, so I decided to follow up with you to see how your training went. Also, we have a new line of products I want to discuss with you.” Or, if you run into an old customer at an event, follow up with a note.

3. Keep it personal. Voice mail and e-mail make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is lost. Don’t count these as a legitimate follow-up. If you’re having trouble getting through, leave a voice mail message that you want to talk to the person directly or will stop by his or her office at a designated time. Meet people when possible; talk face to face when you can!

4. Remember special occasions. Send your best customers birthday cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards – you name it. Get personal. Gifts are excellent follow-up tools, too.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to show you care; use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business, the customer’s business or his or her recent purchase. Strong customer relationships are built on small actions.

5. Pass on information. If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization that a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know. Target the message to their company, interests, and needs, not yours!

With all that your existing customers can do for you, there’s simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them. Use your imagination, and you’ll think of plenty of other ideas that can help you develop strong customer relationships.

I’ll end by saying that these simple ways to build customer relationships work for anyone with any business. That means that internet marketers can use these techniques too. Think about all the offline ways to make your online business that much stronger.

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