Losing a customer is always cause for concern, but it can also be a learning opportunity. Businesses face a constant challenge of thoroughly understanding customer buying behavior, and when that behavior involves choosing a competitor instead, it’s time to reassess the quality of your products or services, as well as the efficacy of your customer service policies.
There are numerous reasons why customers leave a business behind. These include:
- A lack of value in the product or service
- The rise of competitors who offer the same product or service at a lesser cost
- Changes in a customer’s need or pain points
- A shift in customer preferences
As Business2Community notes, “Many of these motivations can be matters of perception.” With customer complaints about a lack of value, “the real problem may lie in the way you educate and engage” your customer base. To address this issue, “improved communications and targeted campaigns are the best weapons at your disposal” to retrieve lost customers.
Here are other tips to keep in mind:
Re-evaluate your business operations.
Is a key customer touchpoint missing from your operations? Are other processes falling short where customers are concerned? Understanding why a customer leaves means taking a hard, objective look at how you run your business—not necessarily a pleasant exercise, but one that can uncover problems you and your team were overlooking.
Be certain you really want to “recapture” that lost customer.
Some customers are simply too demanding to work with and aren’t ideal choices for a “customer-retrieval” campaign. Before reaching out, review your documented history with that customer to be certain you want to expend time and resources on getting them back.
Start re-establishing relationships.
It’s important to be respectful when contacting an ex-customer. Ask for permission to resume communications. If given the go-ahead, begin sharing key industry information (articles, white papers, blog posts), with special care given to addressing that customer’s specific needs. But don’t overwhelm the customer with data. Give them the chance to respond and see if they’re ready to move ahead together.
If necessary, offer an apology.
It’s never easy, but sometimes what a lost customer wants is a sincere apology for the company’s shortcomings in the past. As you reach out, ask about that customer’s experience, and make sure you clearly understand and acknowledge where they’re coming from. Be accountable for past mistakes, while keeping the conversation focused on the future.
Then, notes the CRM firm Nimble, “extend an offer … that entices the customer to come back to your business, but [that doesn’t] seem like a gimmick.”
Take on a one-off project.
Rather than trying to convince an ex-customer that you’re their best overall choice for business, ask to take on a one-off project. Offer a competitive bid on this single project “and do everything you can to ‘wow’ the former customer.” If all goes well, you can proceed incrementally, demonstrating a full commitment to the newfound customer’s satisfaction.
Provide incentives to get things rolling.
As with existing customers, offering an attractive incentive can be a powerful motivational tool for former customers. Incentives can range from cost reductions in your products or services to free (or heavily discounted) upgrades.
The key to these incentives is leveraging them “to make your offer go further,” notes Fundera. Customers will be more receptive if the offer is “only for a limited time and only for them,” or offered “around something like their birthday.”
Whatever makes the ex-customer feel special is the best strategic approach.
Want to learn more about pleasing your customers? Check out “Help Customers Stay Connected and Loyal to Your Business.”