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#51: Have You Lost Touch With Your Clients?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 18, 2009
Delivering client service and keeping the pipeline full takes a lot of time, leaving little time to keep in touch with past clients. Any suggestions?

First of all, keeping in touch with past clients should be one of your top activities in keeping your pipeline full. As you know, it is easier to retain (or reactivate) an existing client than it is to generate a new one. Just because a project has concluded does not mean the person or organization is not your client anymore.

Keeping in touch means two things. First, it means keeping up with what is going on in their business. Just because your project is over doesn't mean their needs have been satisfied. Even if you solved a problem or captured an opportunity for all time with your brilliant advice, there remain other parts of the company that can benefit from your insights. Keep up with current events in your clients' operations, including setting up a clipping service with Google or other vendor. The second part of keeping in touch is to keep you top of mind to them. Their memories of your superlative service will soon fade away with the press of business. Your mission, therefore, is to find ways to be relevant and valuable to them, even when you are not serving them directly. Connecting in person is best, if you can do it professionally, but a phone call or email is the minimum every few months if you want those memories to last. Most important is to have a specific plan for staying in touch and working the plan. Don't let this task just "happen" for when something reminds you to get back in touch with a client.

Tip: As with most things, when you aren't sure how to proceed, ask. Approach your client with a proposal for keeping in touch. Don't just inform them that you will email them every few months to keep in touch. There is little in this approach for them. Instead, ask them if it would be OK with them if, based on your knowledge of their business needs, you forwarded relevant news items with your commentary and suggestions for how they might benefit. This gives you permission to contact them and an understanding of specific items you can be on the lookout for. Since managing this across all clients can be difficult, instead set up a list of business topics to monitor with client names and context associated with each. Before long, you'll be well informed on a specific set of current events and can start writing your own commentaries to send instead of commenting on items by others.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  client service  communication  customer understanding 

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