Things were going great until you lost some customers. It’s a knife in the gut… or a hole in the bank account. However, it feels most prominent to you, losing customers is never fun. But don’t worry. All is not lost. You can still win back customers you once served.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining old ones.
Retaining a new customer costs as much as 15X more than retaining your existing customers. This has been proven repeatedly, yet many businesses struggle with this from time to time and forget this basic principle.
Ironically, this can happen due to early success or a very successful period that the business has. When customers pour in and revenue is growing, businesses usually focus on expansion, and things like customer experience can become an afterthought.
After all, when new customers pour in, an angry or dissatisfied customer is no big deal as they “could” easily be replaced.
However, this period never lasts, and soon, every business matures, and customer acquisition starts to plateau or even fall. This is when the missed opportunity to retain those early customers can seem like a huge mistake.
But even then, all is not lost. Businesses can win back customers they’ve lost relatively easily.
Below, we’ll share some key strategies for winning back customers that help you build revenue without spending a fortune on acquiring new customers.
Find Out Why Customers Are Leaving
This one may seem obvious, but it’s the most important and sometimes gets overlooked. You can’t figure out how to win a client back if you don’t know why they left. So your first step when winning back customers needs to be to fix whatever is making them leave.
This step can vary in difficulty depending on the type of business you are running. For example, a restaurant should have a good idea regarding issues that are bothering customers and causing them to look elsewhere. A restaurant and its staff have close contact with customers, so problems are generally easy to see if the restaurant owner is objective and takes the time to listen.
For e-commerce small businesses or businesses where people mostly order online for pick-up, it can be more difficult. You often have little interaction with your customers in these settings. This makes it harder to determine what the issues may be.
Even in these settings, though, you likely have a customer service point of contact. This person or department will likely be able to shed light on where a majority of problems may be coming from
For either type of business, a great place to start is to group customer complaints or issues into various categories.
For example, are they complaining about the quality of your product? Are they complaining about billing issues? Perhaps they are angry that they can’t seem to get any answer at all about any topic.
Customer Issue Categories
Break down different customer issues into categories, such as billing or product quality, and see which areas have the most issues.
You’ll likely find one category stands out among the others regarding complaints. This is a good way to start finding insight into where improvements can be made, even if you may not have direct contact with customers.
It’s important that during this process, the business owner and his team be completely objective and put their own ego aside. Taking criticism and facing it can be tough, especially when it’s about something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.
But as they say, the customer is always right. If you want to improve your business and continue to thrive, you must look at the data objectively to make the right decisions.
Below, we’ll go over some strategies to win back lost customers now that you’ve identified why they may be leaving.
Communication Is Key to Win Back Customers
It’s much easier to win back customers if you can communicate with them. There are several ways to maintain this communication, and if you aren’t already doing these things, then this is a great time to start.
Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to stay connected with customers as part of a win-back strategy. In fact, around 90% of businesses have a loyalty program. They can also provide valuable analytics regarding customer retention rates, repeat customers, repeat purchase rates, and customer churn.
Loyalty programs have become increasingly easy to implement and operate as well. Many third-party services are available that allow your business to create a loyalty program that is completely white-label and features all of your branding.
These can easily then integrate with your POS (point of sale) system or your online payment system, such as your shopping cart software and payment gateway.
A loyalty program’s benefit is that it works for all customer situations. You can use them to increase ticket size or repeat business through various perks targeted to create that specific behavior. On the other hand, you can use them to offer incentives and perks to get past customers to try your brand or product again after they’ve left.
A loyalty program is extremely flexible, and it’s important to use it to create the desired effect, in this case, causing a customer to try your brand again.
How To Increase Returning Customer Rate
This is done by offering the right perks and incentives to help with a win-back campaign. One mistake we often see is using general perks or incentives that are either not targeted or seen as boring by the customer.
Keep your rewards targeted and fresh. You don’t always have to use simple discounts. Perks like preferential seating or access to secret menu items are all perks that customers enjoy and don’t erode profit margins like deep discounts.
These perks also raise your brand image and add value instead of lessening it, as discounts can sometimes do. Always offering discounts can train customers into thinking that’s all your product is worth and can make them highly price-sensitive to any changes.
Email lists are another cost-effective way to stay in contact and retain customers. If you run a loyalty program, you can generally obtain your customer’s email during that sign-up process. Just make sure there is an opt-in process as well.
Opting in means you can legally continue to send that customer promotional materials until they opt out.
You may need to provide some incentive if you notice your opt-in rates are lower than you would like. Things like offering free shipping on their next order or a free upgrade if they opt-in is one way to increase compliance and build your email list faster.
These can also work as part of a B2B win-back campaign as one of your customer recovery strategies. A sample email to win back old customers in B2B settings may include information about certain areas of your business that are now improved.
SMS or texting with customers has become more popular with many businesses to win back lost customers. It can also help with how to win back customers from competitors. This works very similarly to an email marketing strategy. The customer’s mobile number can be obtained via your loyalty program sign-up process.
One difference with SMS messaging is that it can be annoying and intrusive much faster than email promotions. People can tolerate one or even two email promotions a week if it’s for a product or industry they enjoy. But that many SMS messages will quickly become annoying to almost any customer.
So, if using SMS messaging, use it sparingly and keep an eye on your unsubscribe rate. If your unsubscribe rate starts rising above 1% per SMS message, you are starting to either annoy your customers or not provide them with the information they feel is useful.
Surveys may not necessarily help win back customers, but they can give you incredible insight into what your customers think and prevent more from leaving your brand. It can also help regain customer trust, and they can see that your business is trying to improve its service.
You can conduct surveys on your website or via one of your promotional emails. For the best response, you’ll generally want to include some incentive for the customer to take the survey.
This helps you get more responses, and in some cases, it may cause a past customer to try your brand if the incentive is strong enough.
But the goal is to hear what real customers think about various aspects of your business or learn why customers left. If you already know what areas of your business can improve, make sure to include specific questions about those areas.
A lost customer survey can also be something that you send to customers after they have canceled service, and it’s a smart way to deal with how to respond to losing a client.
Use Personalization to Win Back Customers
Modern businesses are winning back and improving customer relationships through personalization. In short, personalization means using various data sets to provide customers with a tailored experience as they interact with your brand.
This can be something like being able to suggest certain products or services based on their past purchases. For winning back customers, it can be used when a lapsed customer hasn’t interacted with your brand for a certain period of time, and they are offered a “welcome back” offer.
This type of personalization drives engagement at a higher level and can turn lapsed customers into returning customers.
For example, receiving a “welcome back” offer with a discount code asking the customer to try the brand again communicates that the company understands that the customer has been away for a while and would like to try to earn back their business.
Your welcome-back offer can also include new services or products the customer may be interested in based on their previous spending. This further personalizes the offer and increases the chances of winning the customer back.
Personalization is generally accomplished through analytics and data management. Much of this will come from your loyalty program statistics or POS system with analytical capabilities.
Solve Customer Issues Quickly
We’ve all dealt with impossible customers from time to time. However, an overwhelming majority of customers are understanding, especially when there is a problem. Customers know that sometimes things go wrong when interacting with a business. They simply want to have their concerns dealt with promptly and in a way that is fair to both parties.
This means that solving issues that arise quickly goes a long way toward keeping customers. It can also help win customers back if the problem originally made them reconsider purchasing from your brand. Whatever kind of business you run, ensure a dedicated process for dealing with customer issues promptly.
If you run an online business, make sure there are easy-to-find instructions for how a customer can initiate a return or a complaint. The instructions should also let the customer know exactly how long the process will take and what will transpire.
When customers know what is going on and where they stand in the process, they are far less likely to find the initial customer service failures to be negative. In fact, if the problem is dealt with quickly and to their satisfaction, many customers will report their experience as being positive, even though it started with a problem.
Rebrand Or Refresh Your Brand to Win Back Customers
Another proven strategy to win back customers is to rebrand or refresh your brand if necessary. A rebranding is generally only needed in more extreme cases, but a refresh of your brand can yield great results.
When a brand is refreshed, past customers will notice the change, whether it be a new logo, rebuilt website, or new signage or decor in and around the business. This signifies to the customer that things have changed, and the business has moved forward and is improving.
It’s also a great chance to send out promotional messages via some of the methods we discussed earlier, such as email or SMS. Showing off your rebrand or refresh can be enough to cause that customer to give your business a second chance.
If you’re confused about whether you should do a rebrand or just a refresh, you can use these tips to help you decide.
A rebrand generally involves a complete rework of your brand’s position and even your mission statement as a business. You’re likely also trying to attract an entirely new market of customers with the rebrand.
This means your products, services, values, and marketing will also change. This is an extreme step and one that is generally taken when the original business model is either outdated or has no more room for growth.
Refreshing a brand, on the other hand, is more about simply modernizing your look and feel. Your logo, color choices, and fonts may appear outdated. The same can be said for a business’s interior or an online retailer’s website.
Refreshing these elements is relatively simple, although it does involve an investment. But often, this investment is worthwhile.
But overall, a brand refresh doesn’t make any direct changes to the business model or change any core aspects of the company. Just be aware that even a brand refresh needs to be carefully considered. You don’t want to abandon any brand equity you have built up over the years to chase trends.
Carefully consider your options and your position in your specific market or industry. Then, balance whether a refresh or rebrand would provide a benefit. Refreshing a brand too often can lead to customer confusion and even a lack of confidence in the brand.
How To Win Back Customers And Regain Customer Trust
One unique situation is if your business suffered extreme reputational damage for one reason or another, causing you to lose customers and market share. In this case, you may want to rebrand the business. But if the underlying business model is still sound, you would essentially be doing a refresh, but just with a new name and logo.
This is a hybrid situation between rebranding and refreshing a brand and is usually only needed in extreme cases where you’ve lost customers in large amounts.
This customer win-back strategy does require that you have fixed whatever business practices caused the repudiation damage in the first place.
Introduce New Products or Services
One of the methods for attracting customers and retaining their loyalty is to release new products or services regularly. For a restaurant, this can be new menu items or extended hours if appropriate for your market.
This helps to bring back customers in two ways. First, it gives them a reason to try your business again, as you may now offer something they need. Second, it also gives you a reason to send promotional messages introducing the new product or service.
Promotional messaging can quickly get stale if you have nothing of benefit to communicate with your current or past customers. But offering new products and services is a legitimate reason to send a promotional email or SMS; most customers will find it useful.
How can I get More Customers With New Products?
Take a close look at your market and competitors and see what they offer. If you notice something you can add to your business, it may be a great way to attract new and regain old customers.
How To Win Back Customers From Competitors
Analyzing your competitors also works for how to win business or customers you may have lost to competitors. If they offer something you don’t, you can target those losing customers with your new offerings. It’s also one of the ways to get more customers since you now offer a wider selection of items or services.
Another option is to add value to your existing products or services. Adding value could be something like offering small benefits or perks that come with each purchase. You could also offer things like extended warranties for certain items or an easy return policy that invites people to try new products.
Adding value like this can be inexpensive when figuring out how to grow customers and also bring back old customers who may have changed brands due to a lack of perceived value.
Audit Your Customer Experience (CX)
The customer experience (CX) is the impression the customer gets during their entire customer journey while interacting with your company. These can be divided into different “touch points” as the customer interacts with various aspects of your company.
For example, one touch point may be your website and whether or not it provides the information customers are looking for.
First In-Person Impression
Another touch point can simply be the front door of your store or restaurant. Even the parking lot can be a touch point. Is the parking lot easily accessible, or are neighboring businesses occupying all the spaces?
Of course, your staff and employees are another touch point. All of the ways that your customers can interact with your business are individual points that all add up to their overall impression and customer experience.
While all of these things can seem a bit overwhelming to tackle at once, you can easily look at each one individually and decide if a change needs to be made to help win back customers. Any of these touch points may be causing customers to stray, and fixing it can be the key to regain customer service.
Look To Social Media and Reviews
Don’t forget things like social media or online reviews. These are also ways people interact with brands and can be crucial when winning back customers.
Are your social media accounts active and engaging? If not, this could be an area for improvement that won’t require much investment.
Online reviews can be another area, but unfortunately, you may not have as much control over these. However, depending on which platforms the reviews are on, you may be able to respond to them or even have them removed if you can show they are unfair.
Overall, when auditing your customer experience, you want to imagine you are the customer and objectively look at what that customer’s journey would look like when interacting with your brand.
You may find certain areas you didn’t realize had been neglected and may be making it far more difficult to win back customers.
Many times, a small change in customer experience can yield big benefits. So look carefully for those things you can improve that will give you the most bang for the buck.
ECS Payments offers innovative payment solutions that help businesses win back customers and improve service.
Contact ECS Payments to learn more about our integrated payment solutions that help you maintain customer communications and avoid losing customers in the first place.