Saturday, May 21, 2005

Curious about Follow-Up: How to Use It for Outrageous Results

One of the greatest personal and professional tools I use and have used for “outrageous results” is follow-up. And I can say “outrageous” with a clear conscience. Why? Because so many people never bother with follow-up, it has become unexpected and almost non-existent.

I know that many on the Internet use autoresponders. I do too, and think they are wonderful. But, they are still not enough as far as I am concerned. For example, when someone signs up for one of my e-newsletters, he or she immediately receives, by autoresponder, free tips. As soon as I receive notice that they have subscribed with a legitimate e-mail address, I send them a personal letter of welcome, along with the date that they will receive their first copy of the newsletter.

Even though it takes time and slows down my handling of e-mail, I have found that very few ever unsubscribe and I have already established a bond with new subscribers. I even get e-mails right back thanking me for the welcome note.

I am also close to obsessive about follow-up when it comes to answering e-mails quickly and returning phone calls ASAP. I know that this is not the norm, because 90% of the time I receive notes and statements thanking me for my prompt reply. I know that I have been hired for jobs just on that basis alone. Yes - it is a bit outrageous.

For an opposite example, let me tell you about a case I experienced lately. I ordered a product from an Internet expert from whom I have been receiving an excellent e-newsletter. Because I have a PayPal account, I paid with an e-check, which takes up to five business days to clear. However, I never received a word from the expert saying, “Thank you for your order. We will process it as soon as we get notification that the check has cleared.” I figured the person in question must be too busy to answer.

Finally, the check cleared and I was given instructions to fax information that would be evaluated and then would be sent back to me by fax or mail - my choice. I never received a follow-up word that the fax had arrived. In my cover sheet, I asked that the answers be mailed, because I was having problems with my phone lines after my recent move. So, I was surprised to receive an e-mail asking for my fax number. Again, I mentioned that I preferred to be mailed. It finally came, and I e-mailed to say I had received it. You guessed it! I never got an answer to the e-mail acknowledging mine, or a follow-up asking if I was pleased with the results.

How do I feel? Even if the results had been superb - which they weren’t - I doubt that I would ever purchase anything more from this person or recommend them to anyone else.

You would also be amazed at how few people ever write a thank you note, either in an e-mail - so quick and easy - or by hand and then sent through the mail. It is so unusual to receive a hand written note today that it certainly separates you out as giving outrageous customer service.

Finally, I want to share a quote written by Robert Ringer: “And if you are guilty of not delivering on time, or not delivering what you promised, be quick to own up to your mistakes. Nothing conjures up more respect, from both customers and superiors, than being accountable for your actions (or lack of action). Everyone makes mistakes. That's not the problem. What creates a problem is when someone refuses to own up to his mistakes.”

Just another form of follow-up that will produce “outrageous results.”

Take the extra time to follow-up and you will notice a difference immediately. I guarantee it!