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6 Tips for Winning Back Lost Customers

Customer service, winning back lost customers

Sooner or later every business loses a valued customer. Needs change, problems occur, personalities differ. But nowhere is it written that a lost customer must stay lost. In fact, the mark of a successful business is its ability to determine why customers stray and to take action that, over time, effectively brings at least some of them back into the fold.

Here are six tips to keep in mind when you decide to focus your energies on regaining customers lost to your business in the past:

1. Reach out to former customers. Some businesses just write off lost customers, as though they’ve disappeared or gone into hiding. On the contrary, those customers are still out there. It’s up to you to reach out and re-establish a connection. If possible, approach them via a more personalized route than email. A phone call or even a written letter may prove to be the “pleasant surprise” needed to get these customers to respond to your inquiries.

2. Determine the reason for defection. Customers don’t stop purchasing a company’s products or services for no reason. While their departure may have nothing to do with the quality of your offering, nonetheless, it’s entirely possible that they left because of some related element of dissatisfaction. Your business can only improve if you clearly understand why this happened.

Business author Geoffrey James recommends asking two key questions of former clients: (1) Why have you decided to leave our business? (2) What can we do to bring you back as a happy customer?

It’s a “no-lose proposition,” James contends. Ideally, “customers will be so impressed with your curiosity and concern they’ll reconsider their decision to leave.” At the very least, “you’ll learn what’s driving customers away so that you can make corrections.”

3. Apologize sincerely and take responsibility. If the cause for defection relates to the quality of your product or shortcomings in customer service, it’s time to issue a sincere apology. But don’t stop there.

“Saying ‘I’m sorry you’re unhappy’ isn’t enough,” writes business owner Vladimir Gendelman. Even if your company isn’t technically at fault, “make it clear that you can understand why they would be upset, and that you’ve taken steps to make their next purchase more satisfactory.”

4. Reassess your business operations. It’s not easy taking criticism, justified or not, but learning what drove a customer away means looking objectively at the way your company conducts business. Sometimes you can achieve this goal on your own, but for many CEOs and business owners, getting clear-headed advice and guidance from outside sources can make all the difference in the world. (Joining TAB and attending Business Owner Advisory Board Meetings guarantees you’ll receive honest, insightful feedback on your customer service and all other business operations.)

5. Begin the process of re-establishing relationships. Lost customers aren’t “found” overnight. It may take awhile to win back the trust of a customer who feels they’ve been short-changed in the past.

One viable strategy is to ask permission to resume contact and regularly share key industry information with a former customer. Learn more about their particular needs and challenges, and begin sending on articles, white papers, blog posts, etc. that can help provide solutions to those challenges. In this way, your business takes on a new identity as a “trusted partner” in helping customers grow.

6. Land a one-off project and prove your worth (again). A former customer may be understandably reluctant about hiring you on a full-time business resource. Instead, bid competitively on a single project—or offer to provide a different product or service altogether—and do everything in your power to “wow” the former customer. If things go well, you can move forward incrementally and demonstrate with certainty that you’re fully committed to satisfying the newly-found customer in every way possible.

Acquiring new customers if far more costly than retaining the ones you have. The ROI of reclaiming a lost customer, therefore, is well worth the time and effort involved.

Think your business could benefit from a TAB Board? Apply for membership today!

 

How to Boost Customer Loyalty to Your Business

customer loyalty

What’s the long-term value of a loyal customer? Let’s start with a look at the “non-loyal” customer. He or she will:

  • Abandon your business after one mistake in delivery or a bad moment with your customer service representative
  • Jettison your business if they find better pricing from a competitor, even if the quality of that competitor’s product or service is suspect
  • If sufficiently disgruntled, spread the word on social media—potentially damaging your brand’s reputation before you have a chance to defend yourself

Given these scenarios—and considering the high cost of new customer acquisition—there’s a lot to be said for cultivating long-term loyalty among your current customer base. Here’s a look at key loyalty-boosting strategies to boost greater allegiance to your brand:

Boost customer loyalty1. Reward loyalty with exclusive offers. Loyalty doesn’t count for much if there’s nothing “special” about it. Explore options such as offering exclusive discounts, free shipping or a points-based loyalty program you can promote on social media and in email marketing campaigns.

2. Be active in the community (and foster a community among your customers). People respond favorably to businesses that display a sense of civic duty. What type of charity events or non-profit involvement seems like a logical fit with your business? Get involved in your community and don’t be shy about publicizing these efforts on your website and social media platforms.

In the same spirit, how about cultivating a sense of community within your business? If possible, invite customers to visit your retail space and host events where they can mingle with you and other customers. Over time, such gatherings can instill a genuine sense of being “part of a family.”

3. Give customers a say in product development. If you’re looking at a product upgrade or new product launch, why not contact some of your loyal customers and get their feedback? This kind of informal collaboration not only generates loyalty (in terms of the customer’s pride of ownership), but helps ensure that Product 2.0 will more effectively meet your customers’ needs.

“We’ve used a private Facebook group of ‘super users’ to encourage customers to discuss their needs,” says Victoria Lynch of the UK-based Additional Lengths Ltd. Giving customers this kind of influence “has paid dividends both for product development and brand value overall, because people can see that we are listening and responding.

4. Share your expertise and insights. You’re an expert in your field, or you wouldn’t be leading a successful business. Create opportunities to share your expertise and insights with loyal customers—for example, through once-a-quarter email newsletters—and invite them to ask questions on your website or blog. If the information you provide proves helpful (in terms of boosting their own customer loyalty or getting them over a business hurdler), their gratitude and loyalty will be strengthened and more likely endure.

5. Remember customers’ special occasions. Marking an event like a birthday can be both a pleasant surprise and a touching gesture towards your customers. Entrepreneur Jai Rawat suggests motivating customers “to provide their special dates when they opt in to your newsletter” and then “reward them with bonus loyalty points” on their birthday.

6. Always provide a quality customer experience. Perhaps most importantly, do everything in your power to ensure customer satisfaction with your business at every touchpoint. Provide extra training where needed for customer service representatives. Invest in the most advanced and customer-friendly technology so people can easily contact you with inquiries or complaints. In these days of fragmented and often deficient service, people will often pay more for a quality customer experience.

Putting more effort into cultivating long-term loyalty will help keep your business growing in 2017 and beyond.