I’ve been reading a lot of Gerry McGovern’s blogs and he’s on a mission about making technology and IT systems do the drudge work – so that the people in your business can actively help customers.  It makes sense, but it’s not what happens in many big organisations. 

When your business is just you – or you and a couple of staff – the customer gets to talk to you directly.  You build relationships with your customer and talk to them on a one-to-one basis.  Logically, as the business grows, you just can’t stay in touch with every single customer. 

That means that you need to employ people who really get customer service – but it doesn’t mean that they should spend all day long in email conversations with them. 

Customer service works best when it’s in human being form – either face-to-face or voice-to-voice.  Email is useful, but doesn’t work nearly as well for relationship building.  However, it’s an excellent tool to maintain contact with interested people and customers who are happily using your products or services. 

Here are a few situations where an automated email series (autoresponders) can maintain your business visibility: 

Sales follow up:  When someone has bought your product – or services – what useful information can you drip-feed to them in the three months following the sale?  As long as the messages have value for the receiver they’ll appreciate them. 

New contacts:  If you’ve met someone networking or at a conference or exhibition, it can be hard to keep up with everyone on a regular basis.  The first contact post event must be done personally, but invite them to join your ‘free’ tips and hints community and set up a services of emails that deliver value regularly (maybe once a week or fortnight). 

Keeping them interested:  If you’ve built a list of people who have downloaded a free tips sheet or white paper from your website, you’ve got a list of people who have said ‘I’m interested in what you offer’.  They may not be ready to buy just yet, but if you can add value by sending them additional free information that will help them, they won’t forget you when they’re ready to purchase. 

Post event:  Whether the event is a webinar, seminar, training course, business breakfast, trade show or exhibition – staying in touch with your attendees can be a challenge.  A series of emails set up to remind attendees of actions they should be taking or useful links (books, blogs, tools, advice) that are relevant will help to keep your name in their minds as someone who delivers tons of value – even before they become customers! 

Just remember that a series of email should not be your only contact with your existing customers or people who are actively interested in doing business with you – that needs a human being.