How to Follow Up on a Customer or Prospect (and Not Annoy Them)

How to follow up with customers and not annoy them

Sending a follow-up email to your customer or prospect is considered best practice when you’re trying to get a response: Is that prospect you’ve been pursuing still interested? Has that stellar job candidate not replied to your request for an interview? Just need a thumbs up on an appointment confirmation?

The trouble starts, however, when you don’t get a response from them. You may end up sending them email after email and risk driving them nuts.

Take a different approach to the follow- up email and consider a follow-up text instead. Below, learn why a text encourages a faster follow-up response than email and tips on how to compose a text that won’t irritate your recipient.

Why send a follow-up text instead of sending a follow-up email?

It’s getting harder to stand out over email. Our inboxes are bombarded every day with newsletters from businesses we frequent, promotions and discounts from our favorite retailers, delivery confirmations, payment reminders, and yep, requests for follow ups.

On average, consumers have 192 times more unread emails than text messages, according to our 2020 State of Texting findings. It’s easy to get overlooked, buried and dismissed when there’s so much competition vying for our attention in our email inboxes.

On average, consumers have 192 times more unread emails than text messages

Writing a follow- up email also requires a bit of extra work on your part: you need to come up with an eye-catching subject line to get opened. If your recipient is super busy and has thousands of unread emails floating in their inbox, they’re going to be selective about which ones to open first. It’s likely they’ll do a quick scan of subject lines to determine which need to be read right away. For you, that can cause undue pressure to come up with something worthy of being opened.

That’s why a text can make more sense over sending a follow- up email. If you already have the recipient’s phone number (and their permission to reach them over text), you have direct access to their attention. We don’t read every email we get, but we’re going to read nearly every text message that comes our way. On average, consumers have 96 unread emails versus only 0.5 unread text messages.

Text messages are friendly, personal and the response rates are much higher than email. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re going to follow up on a customer or prospect to not only prevent from getting on their nerves but to actually get a timely response.

Be direct

Compose a message that gets to the point. Writing a follow- up email gives you lots of room to play, a text does not. You have a character limit, so use the space wisely. Let your recipient know what you need from them, and if applicable, convey why it’s in their best interest to respond to your follow up.

  • Does the product you’re trying to sell to them have a current discount that you don’t want them to miss
  • Is your hiring team in the final stages of evaluating job candidates, and you don’t want a candidate to miss their opportunity to meet your team in person?
  • Will your patient be charged a no-show fee if they don’t confirm or cancel their upcoming appointment?

Give your recipient all the information they need upfront. If you’re referencing a document, send them a link to it in your text. If you need a payment from them, give them a link to your payment portal. If they have to do extra work to give you a response, you may frustrate them.

Don’t be pushy

Remember that you’re sending a text message, not an email. It may be tempting to send an email every day until your recipient replies, but that doesn’t work for a text message.

Daily follow-up texts will be more impactful, but not in a positive way if you’re doing it too often. A text message is basically a shoulder tap, so if your recipient is getting a message from you every day requesting their response, they might reply eventually but then swiftly remove themselves from your text communications list.

Nearly 85% of consumers reply to a text message from a business in 30 minutes or less, so you should expect a response fairly quickly. If you’re not getting a response from your first follow-up text, reconsider the messaging you originally used.

Be polite

We’re all busy, and it’s incorrect to assume that your message should be their priority. I receive many follow-up emails from salespeople with phrasing like, “I haven’t heard from you, so I’m going to assume you’re not interested/don’t care/too busy to reply.” Ugh. I’m more likely to give you an eye roll than a response.

In your text message, be kind and offer your help. For example, say you’re waiting for a response from a client about a document you sent to them. Your text might say something, like:

Follow up text with a customer or client sample

An example of following up with a client over text without being annoying.

Use cordial language to encourage a response from your recipient. One thing to consider, however: just like in an email, it can sometimes be hard to determine the tone of a message in a text.

Run your message by a coworker if you’re unsure, and if it’s appropriate for your industry, consider using a good ol’ emoji to color your text with a dash of friendliness. A happy face or a thumbs up are welcome by consumers of all ages depending on the context.

Follow up on your contacts using business texting software

It may be tempting to use your personal cell phone to follow up with customers or prospects, but we don’t recommend it. You can take a deep-dive into the reasons why in our latest State of Texting report, but a few things to consider are customer privacy, keeping work and personal contacts separate and complying with TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) practices.

Texting software lets you use your existing business phone number to text (not your personal cell phone number), and offers essential texting features to keep teams organized and efficient.

Like automation tools that carry out tasks on your behalf, including auto-replies and scheduled messages. Or productivity tools that save you time, like group messaging and message notifications.

Learn more about the benefits of business texting software for your business here.

Want to learn more about how to text your customers? Download our free e-book The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers.

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