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A few years ago I presented a seminar to around one hundred retailers. These people run stores whose products have a fairly high price point; they often offer delivery and sometimes installation of the products they sell.

So I was shocked when I discovered that maybe 5 percent of these retailers make a habit of following-up with their customers after the sale is completed. No follow-up phone call. No thank you card. No customer survey. But then again I don't know why I'm shocked because I see this lack of follow-up with retailers in just about every category.

Think about all of the benefits of following up with customer. You're able to demonstrate your appreciation to the customer again. That's a good reason. You can find out if there are problems or issues and possibly save the sale. That's a good reason. You might make another sale. That's a great reason. You might so impress the customer that he/she tells friends and family all about your wonderful store. That's another great reason.

These are a few reasons people don't follow-up with customers.

1. They don't want to bother customers. Remember, these are paying customers and you're just following up to make sure all is well. Who is going to be upset if you want to make sure your customer is happy?

2. There isn't enough time or resources. If following up with customer can save a sale, make a sale, and help create new customers, why wouldn't you make the time to do it? If you're that busy hire someone to work from home and call customers.

3. It's not a high enough priority. I've met a lot of retailers who used to send thank you cards, and a few even called customers. But they stopped. They don't really know why. They clearly don't realize the benefits. The greatest opportunities in marketing come from marketing to your current customers, and they don't get much more current than the customer who just made a purchase!

4. Laziness. It takes time and energy to call customers and send thank you cards. I don't think laziness is the case with most retailers, although I have personally had people work for me who chose not to do what they were asked. Of course that was followed by them looking for a new place to work.

If you are sending out thank your cards or calling your customers, congratulations. You have an advantage over the competition and they probably don't even know it.

If you don't follow-up with your customers, you really should start. No more thinking about it or planning to start one of these days. When I ask retailers who do make a practice of following up with their customers if would they ever consider stopping, every single person answers "no way." Start today. Set the expectation with your staff, build it into the daily routine, and then hold everyone accountable for getting it done. Most important, hold yourself accountable.

So let me ask, how can your organization or store better follow-up for success?

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Aditya Jayaram
    Interesting article on retail stores and customer service offered by retail stores, just read this ( ) informative commentary on the retail industry with related information you may find useful.
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The Retail Contrarian

Latest posts by Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies.
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