Keeping your firm 'top of mind' for your customers is critical. Relationship building will help, but how could you ensure that your number is the first one your customer dials when they have a need?
How about giving them a dedicated line?
DJ Edgerton is the CEO of a small, 70 person interactive design firm called Zemoga, with a very unique delivery model. DJ told me
"Although 98% of our clients are US based, we have developed a delivery methodology and talented team of designers and developers in Bogotá, Colombia. The unique proposition we have is that we are not simply a labor arbitrage play...[we are] living proof that the paying field has changed in the services industry, especially around innovation and technology. It is global."
When they started the company, many clients were concerned about reliability of communication with Zemoga's Bogota office, not to mention just doing business in Colombia. DJ and his team created the "Z Phone", a custom branded "green" phone that is part of our proprietary VoIP system. (Think about the one phone that Commissioner Gordon used to call Batman in the old series, and you get the idea.)
Russ Ward is Global Development Director for Consumer Insight, IMP (International Masters Publishers), a direct marketing and direct mail company that's been around for 35 years in the US. The company publishes cards such as recipe cards, science cards, and collectibles. IMP wanted to get into an online presence, which eventually Hoorray.com. Ward found Zemoga, and they put "the Batphone in my office. I had a direct line to my web development partner. You can pick up the phone and just dial an extension and get to anyone on the team at Zemoga. There's no cost and it doesn't matter where they are - you get them. It a great utility."
Zemoga has found a way to create an 'inside sales channel' right inside their customers offices. All the customer needs is an ethernet line, and they have a connection (and a constant reminder) that their interactive firm is there to help them.
HOWARD GREENSTEIN is a social media strategist and evangelist, and president of the Harbrooke Group, which specializes in helping companies communicate with their customers using the latest Web technologies. @HowardGr