This seems to be the week for interesting tales from real life….this time as it relates to following up with customers, or potential customers.
I called a medical-related referral service to help my mom find a dentist in the area. The call went very well, but I wasn’t sure about some details and said that I would call back if I needed further assistance, but for now was all set. I thought that was the end of the experience.
And then the calls started coming in. Many calls over a two day period. Way too many in fact. I counted, from my voice mail messages, five calls the first day and four or five the second. While that was a minor annoyance (I’m sure they get commission for a successful referral and really were only doing their job), I listened to my voice mail messages – all of them – and realized that there were different representatives calling me to follow up on my inquiry, sometimes within an hour of each other.
How did this happen?
There must not have been a record on my file from John Smith stating, “attempted to follow up on this date at this time” so the next person looking at my file wouldn’t try to call me an hour or two later.
On the third day, there were no calls, so maybe files only stay active for 48 hours before they are considered closed. I’m not sure. But, the experience left me wondering a few things:
1. This is a long standing, reputable (as far as I know) referral service – is business that slow that I’ve been the only call in weeks, so everyone wanted a chance at giving me a referral?
2. Do they not keep accurate records of customer contact? I know when I talked to someone, they said they could retrieve an old file of a past referral if need be, so I know they keep records of some sort. The rapid fire calling could be perceived negatively by a potential customer, and even if they had every intention of calling back to use the service, this may change their mind.
3. What is their follow up procedure? Are all follow up contacts from the previous day given to all of the representatives so that whoever gets to them first gets to talk with them (and their business if that’s how the company operates)? What would have happened if I talked to Joe Smith and got a referral, but Peggy Sue didn’t get that message (due to poor record keeping) and called me just a few hours later? It can send the wrong message either way.
Following up and staying on top of potential customers is good business, no doubt. Having a specific plan in place is too. It’s good to remember that even if a customer doesn’t do business with you this time, if the overall experience was good, they may remember you next time they are in need of your product or service.