One truism of sales is that it is much easier to sell to an existing happy customer than a prospect who knows nothing about you or your business aka “a cold call”. The mistake I’ve made since opening PGB is to not immediately implement a disciplined follow up process after big orders…or after a customer established themselves as a loyal customer by frequent smaller orders.
Somehow there was always the intent to do this, but it never got done, and what we now have is a very long list (since 2011) of “corporate clients” who have ordered from us and have been (as far as we know) happy with our service, but with whom we have really not engaged in follow up communication.
AND THE PROBLEM IS…
This means that much of the list is likely stale: people will have moved on from their jobs and because we didn’t keep in touch, when they passed the ordering-desk role onto someone new, they didn’t say, “And here’s the contact information at Prairie Girl Bakery”…because, well, we hadn’t kept in touch and they had forgotten about us as a catering option.
I gotta say here – it kills me to be admitting all this but as someone said to me last week (a whole other story!), “Let’s look forward, not backward”. So, with our new Catering Coordinator, Ailish, in place and doing a great job, we are going to start – TODAY- a new follow up procedure…which really comes from our Head Baker, and I will just use Andrea’s words here:
IN THE HEAD BAKER’S WORDS!
I think it would be good for Ailish to call within a couple of days of the big orders and start out with a thank you for the order and then continue to say she just wanted to make a follow up call to see how it went and if they were happy. But then she can also ease 3 important questions into the chat that would be helpful for us:
1) would they be likely to use us again
2) would they consider recommending us to anyone within the company but perhaps different departments – and when they say yes, she can say something like feel free to give them her contact info and she would be happy to help them in any way she can; and
3) is there anything we could have done better (maybe some important feedback will be given that we are never made aware .. and it could be a simple improvement).I think this helps us but at the same time I believe its another level of service, it shows that the order did not end when the order got delivered. It shows that the business they gave us is important and Ailish is thinking about them after the fact and cares enough to find out if they were happy. It likely would help to form a relationship with the customer and hopefully, they will automatically think PGB or Ailish the next time they need something. Given the fact that her relationships will primarily be over the phone, I think this is the best way to get close to the same kind of relationship that the CS team forms with regular walk in customers. Regarding the thank you – I like the idea of a gift card for the person who places and confirms the order – I also like the idea of sending it to them in a little thank you card personally signed by Ailish or JB…. and sent as a surprise maybe. The very first time I got a handwritten thank you from a sales person at the Coach store, I felt it made an impact on me.
Last week we did an order of 1800 minis (!) so we will be following up with the company which ordered that giant amount of cupcakes today…stay tuned as to how this goes. And if you have a business of your own, maybe think about what sort of follow up YOU are doing…I don’t think of myself as a procrastinator, but in my experience, it sure was easy to let the time slip away on this project.