Need a revenue boost? Put cold-calling on the back burner. A far more profitable way to build business is to win back lost customers.
Back in May, McDonald’s announced an unprecedented plan to provide franchisees with anywhere from $150,000-$700,000, depending on location, to upgrade their facilities. That’s a lot of money to invest in a facelift. Their rationale? Updating restaurant setup and technology will help them win back lost customers.
While the fast food chain’s methodology may be a little excessive for most businesses, the philosophy is what counts. Instead of dumping all of that money into more marketing intended to reach new customers, they’ve chosen to inject it into reconnecting with any of the 500 million US orders they’ve lost over the last five years. That’s because they understand one basic principle: a former customer has more spending potential than a new customer.
Think about it: If you sell life insurance and you’ve lost some customers, presumably those individuals still need life insurance. They’ve most likely just taken their business elsewhere. In other words, to win new business, you have to discover a prospect’s need and then provide for it; to win back lost customers, you need only adjust your business model to provide for a need you know they already have.
But how do you win back lost customers without being intrusive or spending thousands of dollars? How do you convince them that your business is the one that can solve for their need? It’s not as difficult as it might seem. And we’ve compiled a few tips here to get you started.
5 Tested tips to help you win back lost customers
1. Sales discovery: Learning the ‘why’
To win back lost customers, you have to know why they left in the first place. It’s most likely that a customer left because of price. And a customer who left because of service, and is still more likely to come back than one who left because she decided to give her business to a relative or friend.
Hopefully, you’ve kept good notes on your customers through sales CRM software, as this will help you decide your reconnection strategy while also making it easy to reach back out. When you do get in touch, offer to meet them for a coffee. Keep it informal. You’re not trying to sell them anything at this point; you’re trying to find out what changed.
Keeping detailed customer profiles is a huge step in reconnecting with past business contacts. Schedule a free demo of Blitz’s sales CRM software to find out how we can help you win back lost customers.
2. Send a personalized note
While mass mailings are a good way to reach a lot of people at once, customers will notice if you’ve taken the time to write them a personalized note. It tells them that you value their relationship as well as their business, which makes it more likely that they’ll come to you when they need something you offer. Of course, you can’t do this for your whole rolodex, so select a few high-potential former customers and send notes to them. If nothing else, there’s a good chance you’ll at least get a thank you, which is a great start.
3. Solve their problem—again
Sales is about solving problems. You’ve already done it once with lost customers, which means you know your offering has value to them. Now you have to make it more valuable. Offer incentives or discounts. Switch out their client service members if they were unhappy with them. Increase outreach and communication with automated e-mail follow-up or occasional phone calls. Do what you would do in any relationship: pinpoint the problem and do all you can to find a way to fix it.
4. Take responsibility
Sometimes a customer simply isn’t happy with the service you’ve provided. Don’t be defensive. Taking responsibility is a better way to win back lost customers than making excuses. Apologize, express how much their business means to you, and adjust your offering to address their concerns.
5. Ask to stay in touch
There are few things a former customer hates more than getting mailings and other marketing materials once they’ve moved on. However, many of those same customers will be happy to receive news and offers as long as you’ve asked their permission. It’s a simple matter of respect, and it can go a long way. If they say yes, sure, keep me on your mailing list, it means they haven’t ruled out the possibility of returning. That’s a small victory in itself. For these customers especially, make an effort to follow up with a phone call within three months not to sell, but just to see if there’s anything you can do for them. By doing this, you strengthen your relationship with them, and that translates to far more potential than any cold call.
Easily stay in touch with customers both past and present with Blitz’s sales CRM software. Schedule a free demo to see how easy it can be to reconnect!
What strategies do you use to win back lost customers? Are there methods you feel don’t work very well? Tell us your experiences in the comments below.