Customer loyalty took quite a beating over the last couple of years.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, businesses and their customers were often forced into an awkward dance of hurry-up-and-wait. And wait. And wait.
Lockdowns, supply chain issues, and employee shortages made it incredibly challenging for many businesses to deliver on their purchase orders and honor their service agreements in anything resembling a timely manner. Even the most patient customers could only wait so long and were often forced to turn to competitors to meet their needs.
Some business owners were overtly aware of their customer attrition, while others were just dogpaddling to stay afloat in a sea of negative COVID dynamics. But almost universally, business owners vowed to make it up to those lost customers when things got back to normal.
Well, things may not be exactly back normal yet, but the time to win back those customers is now. Here are three steps that will help get you there.
First Understand Why Those Lost Customers Left
Customer churn is inevitable even in the best of times. While the pandemic obviously amplified normal churn rates, the reasons for attrition might not be that simple. So, for the time being, let’s remove COVID delays and shutdowns from the equation. After all, nearly everyone was in the same boat on that one.
What else might have pushed away those lost customers?
- Consider the Competition. How well did your goods and services stack up against those of others in the marketplace? Were your offerings modern and innovative or aging and just good enough? The pandemic gave many customers the time to size you up against your competitors.
- Changes in Your Target. Has your target market shifted? Just as your business evolves, often so does your customer pool. Did your lost customers just outgrow your business?
- Pricing. The cost of goods and services will always be a huge factor in customer attrition. As post-pandemic inflation continues to rear its ugly head, it is more important than ever to be hyperaware of your pricing.
- Lack of Communication. Did you implement a steady line of transparent communication with your customers? In a sustained state of flux like that caused by the pandemic, many customers just wanted to be kept in the loop. Silence in this case was not golden.
- So-So Customer Service. Whether your business was temporarily shut down or not, how responsive were you to your customers’ needs and how well did you and your team maintain a customer-centric approach?
Next Give Them Incentive To Return
Customers want to feel valued. Many times, lost customers – even B2Bs - can be incentivized to reengage with a message of appreciation and a special offer. Consider simple messaging like “We miss you and want to work with you again. Here is 25% off your next (goods or service).”
If you decide to offer a promotion, be sure to make it substantive enough so it is almost a no-brainer for those lost customers to give your business another chance.
Incentivization can come in many forms. You know your customers better than anyone, so do a little soul searching on what makes them tick and how to reengage them. Be creative. Be sincere. If you did something wrong, be contrite.
Finally Create Reconnection Campaigns
Communication is key to reengaging lost customers. Whether you decide to reach out by phone, a newsletter campaign, on your website, or on social media, the important thing is to express your gratitude, acknowledge your mistakes, and in no uncertain terms let your lost customers know you want them back.
Regardless of the platform, be as transparent as possible. If your business was dogged by supply chain issues, let your lost customers know why that happened and how it was resolved. If your customer service was subpar, tell your customers how your team has improved. If it was price that drove them away, explain to your customers how the unique value of your goods or services support those prices.
Realize that this is not a one-and-done activity. By creating a sustained multichannel campaign of reengagement, you show your lost customers how committed you are to them and how much their business means to you.
Shifting post-pandemic norms will continue to focus on the importance of creating exceptional customer experiences and thus supporting stronger customer loyalty in your business. By putting in the work now to win back the customers your company lost since 2020, you and your business are much better poised to acquire and retain the customers you want as you move forward.