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happy customer

Who’s the most important customer you have? It’s the one you’re face to face with at any moment in time. It might be in your office, across a counter, in a shop area, on a selling floor, or in your customer’s place of business. Wherever the encounter takes place, your customer must be made to feel important, made to feel that he or she is the most important customer you have. In fact, that individual IS the most important customer you have at that very moment.

What happens after a sale is equally as important as what takes place before and during the sale. Customers buy for many reasons. They buy benefits and solutions to their problems. Customers are generally not interested in how something is made or what process or procedure a company goes through to furnish the goods or services they have purchased.

Customers also buy value, but they want to feel valued, as well! They just spent their hard-earned money with your business and want to feel that they are important to your business. And how is this accomplished? Follow-up!

Whether a customer is unsatisfied, satisfied, or super-satisfied after a sale, follow-up is important.

The unsatisfied customer – When a customer is not satisfied for any reason after a sale, follow-up is important to determine the reason for the dissatisfaction. It is a perfect time for a business to make the sale “right” and turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied customer. Without follow-up, a business might not ever know that customers were not pleased with their buying experiences. Not only will dissatisfied customers not return to buy again, they are very likely to tell countless others about their dissatisfaction. When this happens, the business not only loses one customer but also runs the possibility of losing other current or potential customers. Remember, it is far less costly and easier to retain current customers than attempt to obtain new ones.

The satisfied customer – Satisfied customers are great, but there is no need to simply be “satisfied” with satisfied customers. A little follow-up that makes customers feel “valued and important” can turn those same customers into cheerleaders for a company. Satisfied customers tell others about their favorable experience with a company. They become low-cost, company ambassadors.

The super-satisfied customer – A business can never have too many super-satisfied customers. In addition to being goodwill ambassadors for a business, the group as a whole can be a gigantic resource for a small business. In essence, they can be a non-paid, in-house market research department. What better way to find out what customers think about your company’s products or services than by asking them?

Following up with customers gives your company the opportunity to

  • Gauge the overall satisfaction level of customers
  • Increase customer satisfaction from one level to the next
  • Determine how your company’s products or services might be improved
  • Find out what additional products or services customers desire
  • Gain insight into how customers view your competition
  • Evaluate employee product knowledge and customer service
  • Understand why a sale was not closed

Certainly, following up with every customer might not be feasible depending on the type of business. This does not, however, lessen the importance of follow-up. For a very low cost, any business can effectively follow up with customers via

  • Email
  • Postcards
  • Thank you notes
  • Phone calls

The size of the customer base will dictate the extent and amount of customer follow-up. In some situations, all customers can be contacted while other situations might dictate that customers be randomly selected for follow-up. What is most important is not the quantity and method of follow-up, but the mere fact that customers are being contacted after a sale (or non-sale) to make sure they are satisfied and ready to repeat their buying experiences. Additionally, a company can find out their customers thoughts about the company’s products and services.

Equal effort should go into satisfying customers whether they spend $20 or $2,000. Every customer, regardless of the amount spent, wants the feeling of being valued. Consistent follow-up is one way of doing this. No one knows when a $20 customer will turn into a $2,000 customer, or the number of $2,000 customers the $20 customer knows; therefore, follow-up is a good business practice.

When every customer is treated the same, and as many customers are followed up with as possible, customer retention builds and company value increases.

About Richard Weinberger

Richard L. Weinberger, PhD, CPA has over 30 years experience as a financial and management consultant dealing exclusively with small businesses. He has taught numerous continuing education courses for entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals. In addition to his business experience, Dr. Weinberger has been a full-time and adjunct professor. He holds a PhD degree in organization and management, an MBA in management, a BBA in marketing, and a BBA degree cum laude in accounting. Dr. Weinberger currently serves in the capacity as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants (AASBC) and authored the SEMP Approach: Simplified Examination to Maximize Profit, which is the foundation of the educational training for the AASBC. He is also the author of the best selling book Propel Your Small Business to Success: Accelerated Actions to Maximize Profit that is a step-by-step process to gain expertise, increase operational efficiency, and maximize profit in every area of a small business.