Timely follow-up isn't only for leads.
How many times have you uttered those words? Well, maybe not those exact words, but a similar phrase when you're waiting for someone to get back to you. Following up is an important, but often overlooked step. If someone requests something of you, you're expected to respond (whether or not the person likes the response is another story). Responsiveness is especially critical in the world of business and there are many, many examples of where we as a community can often fall short:
Prospective customer inquiries: Websites are littered with contact forms, email addresses and phone numbers inviting prospective customers to provide their information to speak with a representative of the company (sales, customer service, etc.). Having a process in place to handle these inquiries and respond in a timely manner is non-negotiable - you need to do it. It's also a good idea to let the person know when to expect a follow-up. This is often done on a confirmation screen or in an email (and sometimes, both). While this might seem obvious, we see time and time again that companies can be very lax in this area. There is nothing more frustrating for someone than to think their inquiry has gone into a black hole. Audit all of your phone numbers, forms and emails to ensure nothing is slipping through the cracks.
Current customers: It's easy to let your guard down once in a while, especially when it comes to responding to the needs of a current customer. By nature, people are always tempted to chase new business, sometimes at the expense of current (read: paying) customers. Don't get caught in this trap. Acquiring a new customer is much more expensive in the long run than keeping a current customer happy. So why even address this? Because managing your customers and their needs is not easy and can be overlooked. As much as you need a follow-up process for new customer inquiries, you need a process for managing and servicing your current customers. Returning their calls and emails in a few days isn't going to cut it either. Commit to timelines - with buy-in from your customer service and sales teams, for example, as well as scheduling regular check-ins, just to make sure the lines of communication are regular and timely.