I Miss Back When

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memory laneDo you ever feel if you read one more article on how to get more “Likes” on Facebook your head will explode?

Like the lyrics of Tim McGraw’s hit song many people (at least those of us born more than 20 years ago) can’t help but think it’s possible that “We got too complicated. It’s all way over-rated.”

Now, it may be true that there are those of us longing for the days when “a Coke was a Coke” – but has it occurred to you that you may have customers who feel the same way occasionally? Customers who just might “miss back when” if they wanted to let you know they liked something they didn’t have to click on anything?

We’re not bashing social media. It isn’t possible to “over-rate” the value add of technology to marketing and customer service. The value of being able to post this very article on the Internet represents an exponential boost to the number of small business owners we’re able to reach. And we think it’s beyond awesome that technology makes it possible for small business owners along with their prospects and customers to access and exchange information with each other in ways we would have considered impossible less than a generation ago.

But we think small businesses can still find some value in “back when” best practices. For instance:

Pick up the phone. Following up on your customers after they’ve made a purchase isn’t anything new. Of course we want customers to know that we appreciate their business as well as make sure that they’re satisfied with their purchase. So, what do we do? We send them an email – as we well should. But how about picking up the phone and giving them a call as well? Yes, it’s likely all you’re going to get is their voice mail – but at least your customer will be able to hear the tone of your voice as you thank them for their business and ask how things are going with their purchase. In today’s world of automated responses, providing your customer with a human response really stands out.

Write a personal note. We talk a lot about nurturing relationships with customers and we work hard to nurture those relationships – but again we do most of that work online. Taking it offline by scrawling a line or two in your own handwriting to a customer or client isn’t only an unexpected way to communicate with your customer – but a memorable one.

handwritten thank youFor many small businesses doing one or both of the above to each and every customer isn’t possible. There are too many customers and not enough time. And that’s the biggest benefit of being able to connect online – it’s faster to send emails and engage in social media, even faster when those tactics are automated. So much faster that it may not seem calling a small number of customers or sending out a few personal notes will produce any real return on the investment. But what if you combined “Back When” with “High-Tech?”

Take a picture of that card you just sent a customer (blocking their name of course) and post it on Facebook. Have a great conversation on the phone with a customer? How about blogging about it? And don’t forget, there’s a good chance that the customer you called or sent a note to is going to jump onto their Facebook page or send a Tweet out about it to friends, family, and associates.

Last modified: February 25, 2013
Annie Kile


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: Insider's perspective, marketing, MPR Authored, sales, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, tips

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