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Tips for Winning Back a Former Customer

In a perfect world, we’d all have happy, satisfied customers that remain forever loyal to our businesses. In reality, this is unfortunately not possible. There will always be a situation where a regular customer will stray – for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they had a bad experience, or found a lower price. Whatever the reason, you don’t automatically have to roll over and chalk it up to a loss. Sometimes, if you put in the effort, you can successfully win back those wayward customers. Here are a few tips for doing so.

The first step in winning back a customer that has gone astray is to take a step back and examine exactly what caused the issue. For larger organizations, you can conduct surveys and hope that former customers will be willing to take a few moments and share why they felt the need to move on. For smaller businesses, it may take a bit more legwork and some couth. First, determine which customers are worth going after. Then, send out a personalized letter or email that says something along the lines of, “You’re a valued customer. We miss you and want you back! What did we do wrong, and what can we do to fix it?”  Often just letting someone know you’ve noticed their absence and value their business can convince them to come back.

If, during the course of your research, you discover that a valued customer has left due to something that you are at fault for, take responsibility. Be clear about what the mistake was and open about what you are doing to correct it. Whenever possible, offer a specific and personalized apology, and share your action plan including the steps you plan to take to ensure that whatever caused the problem won’t happen again. 

Whether you determine that the issue was due to something you’d done or through no fault of your own, one effective way to win back a former customer is to offer a special discount or deal to entice them to come back. It’s especially helpful if you include this in a personal letter or email. Obviously it’s not practical to try this approach with every wayward customer, but for those that are particularly valuable to your business, it’s worth it.

Finally, keep in mind that even though some of the lost customers you reach out to will not respond to your apology, offer or request for feedback, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write them off and give up. Never underestimate the importance of keeping in touch. Put those former customers on a special mailing list and consistently reach out to them, occasionally offering special deals or promotions, and generally just reminding them that their business matters to you and keeping your brand at the top of their minds. 

Losing a customer can be tough, especially for small businesses. By taking the time to learn exactly what the reasons are behind a customer’s decision to move on, and employing some of these simple tips, you’ll have a better chance of limiting your losses and hopefully turning the tide. You may not win them all back, but you very well could win one or two, which is worth the effort.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 8:41 PM