Friday, January 24, 2014

The Follow-Up Game: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We've all heard the term, "the fortune is in the follow-up." Especially in the services industry, it's important to keep a consistent dialog with your prospects and customers. 

So I was following up with several people I had met in the last week to schedule follow-up calls and I had two similar experiences with contrasting responses. Both people I spoke with were client-facing professionals that were currently meeting with clients when they answered my phone call. These were the scenarios/responses:

Scenario 1  

Me: “Hi [Health Practitioner], how are you? I’m Alexandra I met you last week at XYZ event.”
Her: “Oh hi, how are you?” (in a near whisper)
Me: “Great, thank you. I wanted to follow up to schedule a time for us to chat, but I noticed you are whispering. Is this an okay time to speak?”
Her: “Actually, I’m standing in front of a patient. It would be better if you called me after 3pm”
Me: “Okay no problem, have a great day and I’ll speak to you then”
Her: “Okay thank you, bye”

My Observations: As a healthcare practitioner, this lady wants to make sure that people feel well. She also wanted to acknowledge whoever was calling her (me). She politely told me she was standing in front of a patient and implied that it was not the best time to speak; however, at no point was she rude about that. Notice that I was very intuitive in picking up that she may not be available because she was whispering, so I was also mindful of the other person's environment and respectful of their time--a good strategy when you are calling people you have not yet established a relationship with.

Scenario 2:

Me: “Hi [Concierge Professional], how are you? I’m Alexandra, I met you last week at XYZ event.”
Her: “Uh hi. I’m with a client right now. I’ll call you back at another time.”(speaking quickly and rushing off the phone)
Me: “Oh, okay b…..”
Her: (hangs up phone)

My Observations: Interestingly this person is a concierge business owner that also focuses on making people feel good. Yet, she did not acknowledge who I was, rushed me off the phone, and did not try to set up a specific follow-up time to speak. If the client was so important that this lady couldn't take 30 seconds to have a normal conversation with me, then she should never have answered the phone at all. Frankly, she was rude. Plus we had been emailing back and forth about scheduling a call, so it’s not as if I was a cold-caller or a pushy marketer. She made me feel completely unimportant, and in the services industry this is a big NO-NO! How does she know that I wasn’t referring her business or that I was interested in becoming a client myself? Well, she definitely lost my business AND lost any potential referrals because the way she spoke to me was not acceptable. I’d be mortified if she ever spoke like that to someone I referred to her—so needless to say I won’t be taking any chances.

The ultimate lesson here is that client-facing professionals should always treat the person they meet or speak to like a potential client or a referrer of potential business, even if there is an unsolicited call or if you’re in the middle of a client meeting or an “important” call. Even better, treat them like a $100,000 client or $100,000 referrer of business, because you just don’t know. 

Your customer is KING...or QUEEN! Imagine how many more clients you'd get if you treated everyone you spoke to like royalty?!