For small business segment companies, attracting new customers is always much more expensive than retaining old ones. In addition, statistics show that the amount of the average check of regular customers usually increases, respectively, the seller earns more.
That is, if consumers leave after the first purchase, the business suffers serious losses. So how do you get customers back? Are there universal ways to keep them and return them? We will talk about this in this article.
Perhaps, all managers sooner or later ask themselves the question: how to return old customers who, due to various circumstances, did not want to cooperate with the company further. First, let's understand what a lost customer is. If you think logically, then a consumer who has not made purchases for a long time is lost to the company. But what does long ago mean? What time periods are we talking about?
- No requests for a long time
As a rule, buyers will find out in advance how much the product costs, whether it is in stock, and whether delivery is made. They communicate with the manager, discuss the terms of the order. A person is not yet ripe for a purchase, but he is making inquiries. However, if there are no requests from him within three months, he is definitely lost.
- The buyer shows interest in the product, but does not make transactions
He can explain this for a variety of reasons. In sales, this ordering reasoning is called a socially acceptable explanation. However, if the client sends 3 requests in a row, but it doesn’t come to a purchase, you can say for sure that he left.
- The buyer ignores your letters and appeals, and when you call, he is not there
Many sellers have faced similar situations. If you follow all the rules of communication (that is, the content of written requests encourages a response, the time of calls is agreed in advance), but the client does not answer, then you have lost him.
- The person continues to make purchases from you, but in much smaller volumes
This is what regular customers often do. If during the next interaction the consumer has sharply reduced the volume of purchases, then a significant proportion of orders has passed to your competitors.
Stage 1. Humble yourself and measure
Don't be dramatic if you've documented a client leaving. This is a normal situation. Some customers come, others leave. According to expert data, even the most successful and customer-oriented enterprises that produce high-quality products lose an average of 9 to 11% of customers per year.
Determine the number of lost customers. You can make measurements by the number of persons (for example, 10 clients per year). But if you know LTV (customer lifetime value) and keep counting not in persons, but in money, you can get more objective and tangible results.
Let's take an example. Let's say that in a year you lost 10 customers, each of which brought 50 thousand rubles per transaction, and in a year (7 repeated purchases) - 350 thousand rubles. That is, the annual losses amount to 3 million 500 thousand rubles. Agree, this is quite a lot.
Today, no one doubts the need to retain and return customers. But before you think about how to keep and how to return customers, do some math.
To do this, you need to have the following data:
- the total number of customers;
- number of lost customers.
Calculating the total number of buyers is easy. As for the second point, everything is more complicated here, since it is not always clear who the lost client is. How to make the correct calculation?
First, determine how often and how often a customer makes a purchase from you. Let's say he contacts you 4 times a year every 3 months. If he does not place orders for 4 or more months, then this client is lost and you need to think about how to get him back.
As a result of the calculations, you must generate a template report for each employee for the selected period of time. To calculate the data in the Lost Customer Ratio column, use the formula: (Lost Customers/Total Customers) * 100%.
The time span of the analysis depends on the frequency and frequency of purchases. If the customer places orders frequently, the billing period should be short and vice versa. Yes, the report may not be called very large-scale. However, it shows the position of your company from a completely different angle, unusual for you.
So, you have received information about the number of exiting customers. It's time to act. But remember: when returning a buyer, there are always risks. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to get a person back, and he will make minimum orders and promise that next time he will buy more ... But nothing will change. That is, the funds sent by you for a refund will not pay off. Yes, customer loyalty will increase, but you will not feel it financially.
Before returning customers, conduct a simple ABC and XYZ analysis of sales and customers (we not only advise you to do this, but strongly recommend it). The analysis will show you an objective picture, and based on its results, you will be able to distribute buyers into groups:
- return first;
- must be returned;
- return if possible;
- nothing to worry about (gone, and okay).
Make a list of reasons why people leave. This will help you use the right arguments in future conversations with lost customers you want to win back.
There are 3 main reasons for leaving customers, namely:
- actions of your competitors (dumping, raider takeovers, etc.);
- factors directly related to you (for example, poor customer service, rudeness and hostility of employees, etc.);
- reasons related exclusively to the buyer (bankrupt, moved, died, etc.).
The list, which will reflect the reasons for leaving, you can rely on in the future and build better relationships with customers.
When compiling such a list, use one of the three methods below (at your discretion). And ideally, everything at once to get a complete and reliable picture.
- Interview your company's employees. A very effective way, especially if you talk to the personnel who directly interact with customers (sales managers, technical support, administrators). But remember, there is always a risk (and a fairly high one) that employees simply do not want to report negative points to you, for fear of disciplinary action.
- Interview clients. You can communicate with both loyal customers (by asking them the question: “What can happen that you stop cooperating with us?”, And with those who have already left).
- Brainstorm. Gather together all the employees, a few loyal customers and jointly compile a list of reasons that have influenced or can affect the leakage of customers.
As a result, you will get a large list of reasons why customers leave you. All of them will need to be distributed among the tables with clients who have already left you.
Of course, you can explain the departure of a certain percentage of buyers even without this stage. But the question may arise: is this the only reason the client stopped cooperating with you? In addition, you will know the true motives of far from all buyers. Some clients come up with a million reasons not to tell the truth.
So, you have identified the reasons for leaving. An urgent question arises: how to return a client? Let's say you make a call to the buyer, talk with him and offer to meet. But what will it give? A person will come to your office - what can you offer him? Don't forget: it's possible to get customers back, but it's pretty hard.
How to get old customers back by phone? Many people think that the best option is to call the former buyer and apologize for the inconvenience caused (bad service, poor quality product, etc.). But you will be able to improve the situation with a single phone call only if the client left you quite recently. If a lot of time has passed since his departure, it is possible that your manager will have to personally meet with this person.
You must clearly understand what methods are best to return the buyer and what communication channels to use to dialogue with him. Of course, a consumer who has terminated cooperation for one reason or another is unlikely to change his mind after one telephone conversation.
So how can you get customers back? Develop a plan and strictly follow it.
We recommend following this pattern:
- Pick a buyer and determine why they REALLY left.
- Offer the BEST solution to the problem.
- Think over each stage of his return and determine through which channels it is better to convey information (it is not always better to call the client you want to return).
- Take the necessary action. Be persistent and flexible.
The chain of step-by-step actions for the return of a person in each case is individual. There is no universal scheme. Buyers are different from each other, and they also stopped working with you for various reasons.
Before you take action, find out why the client stopped working (relevant if you did not communicate with him beforehand). Talk to the personnel who directly interacted with the buyer, clarify important details of the transaction.
The more information you have, the better. Do not rush to draw conclusions. Carefully analyze the data to determine exactly why the client left and to improve the firm's offerings to avoid similar situations in the future.
If you have collected, verified and analyzed information at your disposal, you can start contacting the buyer you want to return. You can choose: to communicate with the client by phone or talk in person. Remember: even if the person stopped cooperation because of your mistakes, in any case, you should not start the conversation with repentance and excuses.
It is better to ask the following relevant questions right away:
- What made you stop shopping with us?
- What can we do to change your mind?
By asking the client these questions, you have absolutely nothing to lose. Moreover, the buyer will understand that his opinion is important to you and you are ready to change in order to return him.
During the dialogue, listen carefully to the client, let him speak, do not interrupt. Don't get defensive and don't take everything that's said personally.
In the future, this may turn against you. The main goal at this stage is to get an objective picture of what is happening in order to understand how to return the client.
If you are not completely clear what the person means, ask leading questions, and if necessary, clarify the information without hesitation. When the conversation comes to an end, express gratitude for the attention and time spent, the fruitful conversation, and for the fact that the client voiced the reasons for leaving. You can also apologize on behalf of the company for the inconvenience and promise that you will do everything possible to correct errors. Reassure the client that this will not happen again in the future.
You have collected enough information about the reasons for the person's departure, listened to him and your staff. Based on the data obtained, you can understand what kind of complication the company has encountered and outline the best ways to eliminate it, that is, determine how to return the client.
Basically, buyers stop doing business with companies due to problems with price and service. To address these issues, it may be necessary to radically change the format of work.
Before you set out a plan of action for the return of former customers, consider whether you really need it. Undoubtedly, any client is significant for business. But it happens that the cost of returning exceeds the benefits of lost purchases.
If your business attracts buyers with low prices for goods or services, tariffs may be the motivation for customers to order from you, and not from competitors.
Try to understand whether it is necessary to spend energy on satisfying the needs of one person or group of people in order to return certain customers, losing the rest. Look at the consumer as an ordinary investment that can become either profitable or incur losses.
Often, to make an important decision, it is enough to answer the following questions:
- What steps need to be taken to win back a customer?
- Is it likely that the buyer will return after working on the bugs?
- How much will it cost you to fix the bugs to get the customer back?
- How will the loyal audience react to the changes?
- Tip 1. Admit your mistakes
The biggest mistake in relationships, including cooperation with customers, is not admitting your own shortcomings. Ask your client if they are satisfied with the quality of your services. It happens that a person did not like the service, but he did not express his opinion, but simply switched to another company.
So, how to return a client who left for a competitor? Say you were wrong. This will play into your hands. If you make a mistake in communicating with a person, simply acknowledge it, correct it, and apologize for the misunderstanding. If everything works out, the buyer will return, becoming even more loyal and devoted.
- Tip 2. Find out how your competitors attracted customers
To win back customers, find out what advantages your competitors have. Perhaps these are favorable prices, quality service, helpful staff, etc. All these are strengths, advantages in the struggle for a buyer.
If a person switched to competitors based on the above criteria, then, in all likelihood, you need to completely change the format of your activity. However, it is possible that clients have abandoned you for other reasons. The specific actions you take depend on how appropriate it is to make such changes, as well as on the assessment of the benefits from each buyer.
- Tip 3. Throw all your strength to get back to the previous level
At the same time, do not rebuild the entire format of work for the client you want to return. In most cases, it is enough to eliminate only a few shortcomings.
Using this tactic, and not allowing you to permanently switch to competitors, try to solve individual problems in order to win back the client. Remember, ideally, a small “yes” should be turned into a big “of course”.
- Tip 4. Don't forget about the human factor
The staff decides if not everything, then almost everything. Very often, customers leave without saying goodbye, precisely because of the employees with whom they interacted directly. How can you return customers in this case? Make a rotation, entrust other employees with responsibility for interacting with this or that buyer.
Another option is to attach a difficult client to a specific manager so that he solves all his questions.
- Tip 5: Make care difficult
If there are difficulties, the client understands that it is not so easy to leave for a competitor. He realizes that his departure is financially unprofitable for the company.
Let's say a company uses special ingredients/constituents in the production of its products. If you replace them with components offered by a competitor, you will need to reconstruct, reconfigure the lines and incur other financial / time losses. In such a situation, it is more profitable to continue to cooperate with the same partner, and not go to a new one.
- Tip 6. Contact, be in touch with the client
How to win back customers and prevent them from leaving in the future? A very effective method is to maintain a mutual communication channel. Set the frequency with which you will remind consumers about yourself. Analyze the interests of a particular person, what benefits you can bring to him. When communicating, hint that you value him as a client and are glad to cooperate with him.
- Tip 7: Inform your customers
An excellent reason to additionally communicate with customers is to inform them about promotions, useful events, company news. To communicate with the audience, you can use social networks, phone or email for newsletters. Don't miss this great opportunity for even closer collaboration. If the buyer does not leave, you do not have to think about how to return it.
- Tip 8: Offer a Discount
The most common and effective way to activate and even return customers is discounts. This is especially true for buyers who left you due to financial difficulties.
But don't overdo it by cutting prices. Otherwise, you run the risk of being in a difficult position and will be forced to sacrifice profits all the time in order to return customers. It is better to outline a more profitable way to increase the activity of the audience.
- Tip 9: Run a promotion
A good way to revive buyers is to launch a promotion, stretching it over 2-3 catalogs. But you can stop at one. The main thing is to be creative in solving this problem. Replace traditional and uninteresting prizes in the form of creams or shampoos with original themed gifts. Run an award in the form of a lottery and draw prizes among those who have made a purchase.
Another good option is a win-win lottery, where absolutely all buyers will get a prize. Gifts can be very different: both hand cream and elite perfumes - at your discretion.
Invite the client to an office event dedicated to the release of the next catalog, and present him with new products in the form of samplers.
Be resourceful and creative when thinking about how to get customers back and how to keep them.
- Tip 10: Refresh your database
Probably everyone will agree that contact information about consumers is useful only when used rationally. Check the relevance of the status and data of the buyer, the timeliness of informing him about new products, promotions, and various events. Can you contact the person if needed? The database should be updated completely taking into account the "asleep" consumers.
4 basic ways to return a client by phone
There are 4 options for how to return a client by phone.
Let's consider each of them:
- Constantly inform the audience about new products and offers of the company via SMS. The competition in the market is very high, and therefore the buyer can forget about your products - today it is very easy to find any product of interest to him.
- Conduct telephone surveys to identify your shortcomings. The client can leave both for personal reasons and because of poor-quality service (delays in delivery, rudeness of employees, difficulties with dialing, etc.). If he is dissatisfied with the quality of services, during a telephone conversation, the operator will find out about this and enter the information into the database for further provision to the customer.
- Another way to bring back old customers by phone is calling . The call-center staff, having coordinated their actions with the customer, offers him a number of additional services. If you know what the buyer is interested in, the operators recommend the relevant products to him. If you do not have such information, they simply talk about the company's new products.
- Update databases. Such procedures are very important to keep in touch with the client at all times, since his phone number may change.
- Service messages
Few people are interested in promotional emails in email newsletters. They are not read or even opened. With service notifications, the situation is different - they get acquainted most often. Examples: “The product you were interested in is on sale”, “Products in your cart are 20% off”, and so on.
Use this trick to your advantage to connect with inactive customers and encourage them to buy. And your letters will not go unnoticed.
- Personalized letters
Here we are talking not only about addressing a person by name, understandable for everyone. Companies, by sending personalized letters, track the geolocation of the client, his interests in relation to your goods and services. Writing a personalized letter should be on behalf of the manager of the company (a real person), and not on behalf of the brand. Statistics show that such emails are opened 22% more than regular emails, so don't miss your chance.
- Working with inactive subscribers
Email newsletters can motivate dormant customers. A person got into your mailing list when he wanted to receive a certain bonus. And if you missed the very first moment of starting interaction with him, you can generate interest with the help of another useful bonus that you send for free.
If at the very beginning you acted correctly, met and told a little about yourself, sent a bonus, but the client was not ready to buy, try to motivate him with a shareware product. In other words, offer the consumer something of value at a very low price, almost for free, for which others paid money. So he will try your product and want to buy its full version. A prerequisite is that the product must be of real value.
- Club mailing list
Use the club mailing list. So you save the audience, which means you won’t think about how you can return customers. Let each member of your target audience feel their exclusivity. Offer to sign up for a VIP newsletter and include only the most useful information and new ideas.
If clients receive a notification from the club they belong to (even if this club is just a VIP mailing list), they understand that there is no unnecessary information and random people here. As the data shows, such emails are opened more often.
- Engage with downloadable content
It is not always necessary to think about writing the text of the letter for the email newsletter. Periodically offer clients downloadable material - a set of webinars, pictures, useful literature. Even if people don't use it, you'll get them more involved in your mailing list.
- Emotional headlines
To make it clear to the addressee that the letter is urgent, you can use emotional headlines. Texts with an emotional message are more interesting to read - people perceive such messages as a call for a speedy reading and subconsciously think that there is something important there.
Typically, letters of this kind are sent to recipients who never became customers after going through the entire mailing cycle. If it works, continue to provide value and useful information to customers.
- Simple sentences
Do not use complex speech structures in letters, be clear and concise. After all, you are reaching out to people for some purpose, such as encouraging them to go to the landing page.
- Short lines
The results of experiments have shown that a person perceives information better if he reads letters with short lines. That is, you can superficially view the letter to the main point - links. It's comfortable.
- Use Formatting
We recommend that you highlight the main message of the letter and the title with fonts and color - this will facilitate the perception of information.
- Insert images
Letters with pictures are also perceived easier. In addition, they will help you promote your own brand and stand out from similar mailing lists.
Any online store or other site that offers products or services wants not only to attract potential buyers and motivate them to make a purchase, but also gently push them to return to the site.
This task is quite difficult. For its successful solution, you should continuously update and improve the site, fill it with high-quality and useful content, and increase the link mass. In addition, it is very important to regularly develop special offers that are attractive to consumers.
To re-engage visitors to the site, companies often use retargeting. This is a tool with the help of which contextual advertising is seen only by those people who have already visited a specific site and performed targeted actions there.
There are many filters on different resources that select only those users who, for one reason or another, may be interested in the company's offer. You can filter the audience by place of residence, interests, requests made by a person, age and other indicators.
When an average consumer chooses a resource where he will place an order, he compares several online services - their ease of use, the quality of goods, prices. To bring a person back to your site, you should find out how competitors' virtual representations work and, if necessary, adjust your Internet site.
It’s good if your resource has a section called “Previously viewed products”, which is available to visitors even without registration or authorization. E-mail or SMS notifications help to inform a potential buyer about pending products if, when registering, a person provided his phone number and agreed to receive such messages.
As already noted, you can keep and return the client with the help of a discount. This is a very effective way to encourage a person to buy. You, as a seller, can launch a promotion of any format - for example, offer a reduced price for a product for reposting on social networks, for the second and subsequent purchases on the site, or for the fact that the client referred a friend. Promotions of this nature are now widely used by both real and virtual stores.
How to return a client to the site again? There is another way. Let users leave comments. The method is especially effective if a person who wants to share his opinion on the site can do this without registration or authorization.
This way, free content will appear on your resource, and people will be able to discuss together the product that they bought or want to buy. Note that this method will give good results only to companies that are confident in the quality of their products.
It has long been no secret: the number of first and repeated visits depends on how well the resource is advertised in social networks and third-party sites. You can advertise not only in the Internet space, but also in traditional print media, install simple banners.
If the logo or slogan of the brand gets into the field of view of people all the time, they not only trust the company more, but also tend to buy its products, therefore, visit the corresponding resource.
In addition to using all these methods that allow you to keep and return the buyer, you should constantly check the performance of all elements of the site. The chosen type of feedback, be it Skype, a callback or an online consultant, should always work correctly. Ideally, you should also have your own free hotline.
Thanks to these methods, managers will be able not only to attract new visitors to the site, but also to encourage the return of those who have already made purchases.
In any case, remember: the most effective ways to return the buyer in order to make a repeat order are competent customer-oriented service and high quality of the products sold.
- Mistake 1. Inappropriate communication
Many businesses choose the wrong communication methods when working with an audience. For example, they send information by fax, while customers prefer email. And some people today, in principle, do not recognize the fax. At the moment, email is used to send almost all correspondence. No one wants to use outdated equipment - fax, which also requires a lot of money to maintain.
How to return customers, when communicating with whom you used the wrong methods?
Faxes here is a conditional designation. This is not specifically about these devices. The bottom line is to find out on which communication channel a particular person wants to communicate (by phone, SMS, mail), and use it exclusively. Not all people read emails or pick up the phone when an incoming call comes from an unknown number. That is, the wrong communication channel is your path to failure. The client will leave, and it will hardly be possible to return him.
- Mistake 2: Supplementary Services and General Service Level
It doesn't matter what you sell, what services you provide. In any case, it is worth offering additional services to your audience. From seemingly insignificant details, a general impression of the organization is formed.
Agree, you can make repairs or sell a thing in different ways. All related products or services are very important to the buyer. What benefits your main products will give him, the person already knows. But what benefit he will receive from additional services is a big question.
- Mistake 3. Bad pricing policy
Just note: this does not mean that you need to set minimum prices. Only companies that have no other strengths and are unable to provide the consumer with other advantages can act this way. Doing business by setting low prices is irrational. Cost is just the ratio between what you provide and what you charge for it.
This error is somewhat related to the previous one. If you offer high-quality service, bonuses and the biggest guarantees, then you may well be 20-30% more expensive than your competitors. If in your assortment everything is the same as that of your rivals, but at the same time you ask for more, then you risk losing and never returning customers.
- Mistake 4. Not knowing your competitors
It is important to have information about the main competitors in order to know how to win back customers if necessary. If you do not have information, then first of all you will encounter difficulties in pricing policy. And really, how to settle tariffs if you do not know the rates of other companies?
It is no coincidence that we are talking about direct competitors here. In all likelihood, there are also firms on the market that you don’t need to focus on. Most likely, there are market leaders using different approaches and policies. Focus on companies that your customers (both current and potential) can actually go to. Track how these organizations conduct their marketing policies, on which sites they advertise, etc.
- Mistake 5. Not knowing your product
Don't offer anything you don't fully understand. Otherwise, the client will be disappointed in you and it will not be possible to return it. If you do not know the properties of the product and cannot answer the consumer's questions, it is possible that even the first purchase will fail.
Remember that the client may ask you about something not during the order process, but after or during further service (if any), for example, in order to understand the functionality of a complex product. If you do not provide comprehensive data at this point, the person may leave. It is almost impossible to return a buyer who has ceased to cooperate due to such a mistake by the seller.
- Mistake 6. Product quality discrepancy
Here everything is so clear. If a similar situation has occurred, it’s not even worth asking the question: how to return a client? The only thing that can and should be done is to analyze the pricing policy.
- Mistake 7. Weak Sales Team
This is the most important element of your company, which is visible to customers. The number of employees in the sales department does not matter. The buyer is not interested in what is happening in your accounting department or in production. He only cares about the quality of the work of the sellers, as he directly interacts with them. If the buyer is dissatisfied, then he will certainly leave, and it will be extremely difficult to return him.
- Mistake 8. Bad aura at the point of sale
Everything is easy here. If the store where a person purchased (did not purchase) the product is unpleasant for him, most likely he will not come there again.
- Mistake 9. Insufficient reinvestment in working with the customer base
A certain part of marketing funds (preferably a lot) should be directed to servicing the existing customer base. As we have already noted, attracting new customers is more expensive than retaining old ones. Properly built marketing involves interacting with existing customers too.
Try to meet their requirements, meet their needs and pay attention. And then in the future you won’t have to think about how to return customers, they simply won’t leave where they feel good.
- Mistake 10. Incomprehensible business strategy
Retaining customers turns into a difficult task if the company itself does not understand how to develop and in what direction. You must be organized. Buyers always make a choice in favor of stability.