Do you feel like you drop the ball on customer follow up? Would you like to keep in touch with your inactive customers? What about contacting prospective clients on a regular basis? Do you have a follow up plan with the business contacts you make while networking? This article will show you tried and true methods to get organized and stay in touch with your clients.

The most important key to customer follow-up is keeping all of your contacts organized within some type of database. Computer programs ACT, Outlook or Entourage can organize and prioritize your client names. If you don’t have a contact management program, you can also use your email database or create a spreadsheet in Excel.

Whatever method you choose, it pays to make the right data base choice in the beginning. Choose a contact management system that will grow with your company, morph with different tasks and upgrade with improved technology. Researching and implementing the right system from the beginning will pay off in spades in the long term.

Once your contacts are saved into one database, you can begin to create your company follow-through protocol. For this task, you will need to set up a calendar reminder system.

If you use a smartphone or PDA, your reminders can be programmed into your schedule. ACT, Outlook and Entourage provide quick reminders in your daily schedule and provide am auto dial option from your computer. You can be alerted every day when a client should be called or a follow up appointment scheduled. A huge benefit of these programs is the ability to schedule all of your follow up calls and letters when you input the new contact name. There is also new technology available that allows you to download your tasks and client info into your cell phone.

The software from your email database or an Excel spreadsheet will also work but it is more difficult to link directly to a reminder calendar. To use this system, store each name into a group. For instance, group your weekly calls, monthly calls etc. into subfolders. This method definitely requires more time and personal organizational skills. You will need to print this list regularly, make hand-written notes and refer to it as you make calls.

If you don’t use computers, you can rely on paper methods for follow-up. As you meet a new contact or gather a referral, record it onto a master list. Make sure each name has ample space to the right of it for checkmarks to record each completed task.

While you are recording the new contact info, address several envelopes to that person and note on each envelope when it should be mailed. Additionally, mark your schedule for the follow-up calls. At the appointed time, mail a follow-up letter to the recipient. As you make follow-up phone calls and send letters, keep track by adding a checkmark and date beside the name.

Pre-printed postcards are a very cost-effective way to keep in touch with customers and prospects. Mail these on a regularly basis.

The best follow-up occurs when it is scheduled into recurring time slots within your workweek. This might sound basic, but calls fall through the cracks as we get caught up in the “busyness” of our business. When you block the same hour every day for customer follow-up, it will become a habit and you will more likely attend to the important task of generating good customer service, referrals and client rapport.

Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

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