Every year, companies lose between 10% and 40% of their customers. Most companies just assume those customers are gone and never coming back. After all, if a customer stops doing business with you, they won’t do business with you again, right? WRONG.
As it turns out, it’s easier to save a lost customer than it is to gain a new one. One Marketing Metrics study found that the probability factor for successfully selling to lost customers is between 20% and 40%. The probability of selling to new prospects? From 5% to 20%.
With that in mind, it’s time to start rethinking your marketing strategy for reaching out to lost customers. If you have up to a 40% chance of saving a lost customer, it only makes sense to put forth the effort into winning them back.
But how can you save a customer that wanted to leave you in the first place?
Find out why they’re leaving – This is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you can get the customer to tell you why they’re cancelling your service or not shopping with you anymore, you can create a solution for their problem. Once you’ve removed that obstacle, they should have no good reason not to do business with you.
Additionally, if you can identify common reasons customers leave, you can implement company-wide changes to prevent future customers from following suit. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
One easy way to find out why customers have left is to send them a link to an online survey with a few basic questions. Make sure your survey has an “Other” box where they can go into more detail about why they’ve left.
Apologize when you’ve made a mistake – If the customer is leaving you on bad terms, you have to be willing to say you’re sorry. The apology is very important. When apologizing, state exactly what you’re apologizing for (e.g. “I’m very sorry you had to wait an hour to get your food”) and how you’re going to fix the problem, and you must present an action plan for ensuring it will never happen again. You have to gain their confidence, and they have to know exactly what you’re doing to correct the issue.
Ask customers what you can do for them – A lot of companies are afraid to ask their customers what they want because they think they’ll ask for way too much. The truth is most customers aren’t trying to get something for nothing. Most customers are reasonable, and they just want what they feel is fair. So, just ask them what it is you can do to win back their business.
Use email marketing to stay in touch with the lost customer – If your lost customers are members of your email list, you need to segment your list properly so they’re kept in a separate category. Lost customers should be receiving emails relevant to the situation (e.g. online surveys asking why they’ve left, special offers for coming back, etc.). Email marketing is a very cost effective way to keep your relationship going.
Offer rewards for coming back – I’m not sure if they still do this, but a few years back after cancelling my subscription, Netflix sent me a letter asking me to come back to them. They offered me a special deal for coming back (a couple of bucks off their plan for 3 months I believe). I didn’t immediately return, but eventually, I came back to Netflix so their efforts paid off.