No one likes long goodbyes, but quick goodbyes are often even harder to come to terms with - particularly when the person scarpering out of the door is a customer.
Customers come and go - that’s a fact of business - and it should never be assumed that the most loyal will hang around forever. That mindset only leads to complacency and, before you know it, long-standing clients will leave without so much as a parting wave or regretful glance over the shoulder.
Some customers can be regained, though, and all is not necessarily lost when a long-standing contract is cancelled or an online store visitor leaves without buying.
In this post, I’m going to offer some tried and tested techniques for tempting customers back. And not one of them will make you appear desperate - I promise.
Find out why they left in the first place
There’s little you can do to win back old customers if you have no idea why they decided to stop buying from you. Some detective work is needed before you start the process of tempting them back through your doors.
Using the telephone rather than email (the latter is easily ignored), contact the departed customer. Put on your biggest smile and express your disappointment at losing them as a client. Ask what you could have done differently and remind them that you’ll still be there, should they change their mind in the future. No hard sell, no sour grapes - just an eagerness to learn and improve will grant you access to that vital reasoning behind their departure.
Go bonkers with an offer (it doesn’t hurt once in a while)
A few months back, I cancelled a subscription for an audio book service. They’d done nothing wrong - I just simply didn’t use it enough to justify the expense. A month or so later, an email popped into my inbox asking if I’d return in exchange for a discounted subscription. The lower rate lasted three months and was ridiculously well-priced. So well-priced, in fact, that I signed up.
I’ll probably stay on, even when the subscription increases, and this is proof that, once in a while, a bonkers offer - no matter how much it hurts - is the only quick-fire way to get people back on board.
Just don’t do it too often.
Fix what went wrong. And tell them you’ve done so
If you’ve parted on sour terms, take my first piece of advice and contact the customer (don’t hang around, either - you want them at their most disgruntled). After the necessary apology and friendly ear, promise to act on what went wrong - and do so.
You may need to alter your offering, reduce pricing or amend a troublesome term of sale. Whatever it is you need to fix, once you’ve done just that, call the customer again and thank them for giving you the impetus to do so. You never know what might happen next.
Ask for permission to stay in touch
If the customer left with a relatively heavy heart or with no break in goodwill, there is absolutely no harm in asking if you can continue to keep in touch by sending product news and offerings. Few will turn down the offer, and if you continue to appear in their inbox, you’ll never be far from their mind.
A good email marketing client or proactive customer liaison team is all you need to ask for their permission to continue mailing. Just ensure you keep your marketing messages relatively infrequent and that they contain offers that seem too good to resist (think back to my audio book service experience).
That’s it - 4 steps to winning back customers. Simple, no? You need nothing more and, rather than looking desperate to win back their affection, you’ll simply come across as a business that values its customers and which is deeply invested in continual improvement.
About the author
Mark Ellis is a freelance writer who is passionate about helping people understand productivity and technology. He is a company director and small business owner and enjoys sharing his experience in small business growth, marketing, sales and workplace dynamics. You can follow him on LinkedIn.