Don’t Abbreviate Follow Up (F/U)- Part III

Ah, the last of the trilogy.  In movie series, this is where I want the author to so desperately put everything together for me.  Well, I won’t make any promises here, but let’s get to it anyway. My final H in the list of follow up fowl ups that chap my hide is quite simply, the “I’ll promise, but I won’t do it.”

Let me just get it out of the way, I hated dating.  Did you?  I mean the games, the nights wondering, “she said this but did she mean something else?”  As if that was not brutal enough, there was the, “I’ll call you.”  I can’t tell you the number of times I would do my best to treat my date right by bringing flowers, planning a great evening, taking time to talk with them to get to know them and all of that, only to be put on the “Do Not Call Back List.”  Then, there’s the awkward moment where you see the person three weeks later in a public place and have to ask yourself, “Do I run and dodge them or just act flakey?”

In my business, follow up is king.  If I promise someone I will do something and do not follow up, it is a major strike against my company.  As a talent consultant, the first four dates with a candidate are all about setting the stage for a great movie and convincing the candidate they are the next leading star.  If I forget to call them back, or don’t email them when I tell them I will, it spells death for any actions I did leading up to that point.  Especially with the market today, people are a lot more skeptical than before.  If you say that you will do something, be sure to follow through because you might surprise your candidate, prospect, client, or end-user by doing something other companies promised they would do.

At the risk of sounding contradictory, doing either number I or number II would be better than doing nothing at all.  Here are some final tips for ways to avoid abbreviating Follow Up and taking the route of F/U:

  • Be intentional: If you are going to follow up, write it down and follow through.
  • Be specific: Don’t promise something if you can’t follow through.  For both party’s sakes, be specific with the time of the follow up. “I will follow up with a call on Friday.”  Specific, Friday.  Not so Specific, What time?  No need for a time, you’ve given yourself a day.
  • Be present: Make sure you are “there” when you’re talking to them and not simply going through the motions.  The worst you could do would be making someone take the time to listen to you when you’re just going through the motions.  If you do this, you’ve killed your brand.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “This is common sense,” I would agree with you.  Unfortunately, if you are exposed to any business outside of your own, chances are, you will fall prey to the culture seeming to be rampant.  This is the culture of…. Well, abbreviate Follow Up.

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

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Don’t Abbreviate Follow Up (F/U)- Part II

In “Don’t Abbreviate Follow Up Part I”, we talked about the importance of knowing when to and when not to email as a follow up action.  This time, we are going to talk about another tactic commonly used today.  The “Generic Thank You Letter.”

Nothing says love like the generic thank you letter.  I love knowing that I visited a church, company, or service and that my time was so valuable to them, they thought they make best use of their time and add me to their “mail merge” list.  Wow, really?  If I were neurotic, which I am, I would sit down and figure out my hourly wage, add a 15% premium just for fun and take that times the number of hours I was at your establishment to really evaluate how important I was to you.  So, as an example, let’s say you make $20 per hour and spent two hours at a company’s event.  That’s $40 worth of my time and you can’t take the time to send me something outside of a mail merge letter?  Really?

I understand companies are busy and they are trying to make the best use of their resources and their time, but the prospect and clients are the ones getting short changed.  I know in my business, if I tell someone I am going to follow up, I don’t send them a generic letter.  I might send them a brochure packet as a follow up, but I would not do so without at least calling to be sure they received it and using that opportunity to better delve into their needs.  Come on people!  It’s basic customer service.

So, while I’m on a soap box about the generic letter, let me go ahead and address the robot that calls me after I call into an organization to evaluate my “client experience.”  Ok, let me get this straight.  You want me to evaluate whether the environment was “warm and friendly” and you have me talking to a robotic menu?  Have you taken the time to think about just how stupid that is?  If you truly value the advice and comments from your clients, hire someone to do it.  You’ll not only have your actions and words matching, but who knows, you might actually get some great ideas out of the process too!

Don’t forget to tune in for the final clip of this three part series!  In the mean time, don’t abbreviate Follow Up….

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

Don’t Abbreviate Follow Up-Part 1

Sure, you haven’t done it before have you?  You’ve never set up an appointment with a colleague, client, or prospect and used the abbreviation F/U on it.  Well, I guess I am the only one who will be honest here and I will tell you, I have done it more times than I care to think about.  There’s a greater lesson to learn from this however.

I place a lot of value on those who do what they say they are going to do.  Over the years, I have had numerous occasions where I had to meet a particular deadline and had to wait on someone else to complete their portion before I could finish mine.  Most of the time, I would be promised the report or project piece would be completed at 9 am only to receive their work at 2 pm with a 3 pm deadline for me to complete my portion and get it in.  Nothing spins me off into a nuclear come apart as these people do.  So, as a consequence, I have become huge fans of individuals and companies who follow up when they say they are going to follow up.

Recently, my wife and I moved cities and began taste testing churches.  You know the routine, you have to try to find something similar to what you were used to, but without all of the stuff you couldn’t stand about the other church.  I digress.  It never fails that at some point in the service, someone will stand up and ask that you complete a little card to let them know you were there and so someone can reach out to you.  Here’s the kicker.  You give them all of the information and then what happens?   Well, let’s go over three techniques used and how they can impact your business decisions.

Quick, but general email.  Ok, I get it, email is great and convenient and well, impersonal.  Although it’s unobtrusive, if you are truly trying to court a prospect or continue to retain a client, there are times when you just need to pick up the phone.  In my world, if an email is more than five long sentences or longer than the preview pane, I pick up the phone and call the recipient.  It seems we have gotten too far away from this practice.  Sure, sending an email as a follow up to readdress points made during your initial visit is always good, but be sure this is what the recipient wants.  Some people like email and they’ll respond quicker that way.  Some like to have an initial phone conversation.  Others, they like to have a lunch or coffee, something where they can lay eyes on you.  My point is this, you cannot affor to be general when you are trying to attract or retain anything.  The same goes for your employees.  There is a time for email follow up, but don’t abbreviate it or take the easy way out.  You might just find yourself sending a subliminal message by saying …. Well, hopefully you get the point.

Want to know the other two points?  Be sure to join us for the next two topics.

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.