So, we received this note from a client last Friday, and we asked for permission to re-print it in full. It speaks to a couple things I want to emphasize to you today…[emphasis added]
I do not remember if I conveyed this to you or not. When I sent out my tax organizers, on the “additional info” page, I asked if the client was receiving our weekly emails. If the answer was no, I invited them to give me their email address and assured them if they did not enjoy the emails they could unsubscribe at any time. I also assured them that they came without cost.
I picked up quite a few new email addresses during tax season this way. In the organizer I went one step further and asked those that were receiving the emails to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being thoroughly enjoy and read them all and 1 being “remove me from your email list immediately”. I received no 1’s or 2’s; a smattering of 3’s; and the rest pretty much divided between 4’s and 5’s. I did not ask for comments but some folks felt moved to comment anyway. Most comments were praises for a job well done. One comment was a request to “dedicate a news letter to a guide to protecting identity”. (This person gave us a 5.)
And then there was this. A client left me in 2007 for undisclosed reasons. I inquired, as I always do, when a client leaves but all I got back was a terse email saying “I can not put my frustrations into words”. This person had been a client for nine years and represented around $10,000 in annual billings. His comment haunted me and I did a whole bunch of mental replaying attempting to identify why he left.
Well, when I signed up for your email program, I decided to include this ex-client just to keep my name in front of him. As you said at one time, the email gives us access to the person’s inner sanctuary. Well, this person responded to this week’s email with a very short: “when you get a moment, could you call me?” I called and we talked for about an hour. And he is back.
I know in my heart of hearts that it would not have happened had I not been there every week. And he did mention that he understands the marketing aspect of it but he still thought it was special how it was individualized with his name.
So thanks! And keep up the Great Work!
Oh, and I did stretch the truth a little in the first paragraph above. I did actually receive a rating of 1 from one client. Not a good sign right? So I called the client. They misread the question and absolutely did not want to be taken off the list. They thought they were giving us the highest score.
-Ron Fassett, CPA
Well, in many ways, as they say, res ipsa loquitur. But a few key things that I wanted to highlight to you, which Ron did, that were extremely smart:
1) He asked for feedback. Many times, we don’t make the effort to do this, simply because we believe that we are doing such a great job that it should all be self-evident. Well, then we miss out on A) problems which we might not detect without this simple ask and/or B) great stories which you can use to fuel so much more of your other marketing. It’s not often that you’ll receive unsolicited feedback, positive OR negative (though this email we got from Ron wasn’t solicited … he simply replied to one of my emails).
2) He didn’t give up on lost clients. It can be a tricky dance to keep in front of those from whom you’ve received a kind of rejection. Which is why sending a print newsletter or a weekly email is the most perfect “relationship-tender” you could possibly employ. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s friendly, and it demonstrates that you care and take ALL of your contacts seriously.
3) He wasn’t afraid to hear negative feedback. When Ron received a “1” rating, he picked up the phone and enquired — again, showing emotional and relational fortitude which isn’t an automatic skill. Fortunately, in this case, the feedback was actually positive … but it’s not always the case. But the VAST majority of the time, those with negative feelings simply want to be heard. Give them a voice and you’ll be surprised by how damaged relationships can be repaired by the simple act of listening.
Well, I think I’ve given you enough to chew on — and act upon this week! Enjoy your weekend … and go get those extension papers done!