How to Win Back Customers in 3 Easy Steps

There’s no shame in contacting your ex-customers; it’s not like calling an ex-lover and begging them to take you back. It’s more like this ...

Do you remember the children’s song “Make New Friends, but Keep the Old?” Unfortunately many businesses do not, and instead are singularly focused on finding as many new customers as possible. That might seem like the most effective strategy, but recovering customers who have switched to another vendor is actually a lot easier than acquiring new customers.

Here are three simple steps you should take to win back business.


  1. Figure Out Why They Left

    When you lose a customer, it’s easy to make excuses. “Their needs must have changed,” is an old standby. Or maybe, “they wanted a lower price.” In fact, research indicates that over 70 percent of customers who switch vendors do so because of poor customer service, with poor quality of products or services coming in at a distant second. (Source: Inc) By and large, companies lose customers because of things entirely within their control — and within their means to correct.

    Finding out why your customer has strayed is the first step to getting them back, and the best way to do that is to ask them. Consider contacting them through phone or snail mail rather than email. These forms of communication are much more personal, so they’re more likely to respond positively. The more information you can gather about your customer’s motivations, the better your chances of getting them back. Try asking customer service representatives for anecdotal information; perhaps your customer was expecting a particular product feature and was frustrated when they didn’t receive it.

  2. Make a Change

    Once you’ve identified the reason a customer left, the next step is to correct it. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a major change; you probably don’t need to overhaul your entire business model for the sake of one customer. It might just mean clearer communication, like altering the writing on your company website to be more specific about the products you offer.

    Your goal here is to do the best you can to meet their requirements. What’s more, you’ll prevent more customers from leaving you for the same reasons.

  3. Apologize Authentically

    Have you ever heard of a “nonpology?” That’s when you apologize in a way that doesn’t acknowledge any actual wrongdoing on your part, like saying “I’m sorry if you were offended” or “mistakes were made.” People can see right through a nonpology, and using one isn’t likely to get in anyone’s good graces in any situation.

    Likewise, when apologizing to former customers, it’s important to acknowledge responsibility. Saying “I’m sorry you’re unhappy” isn’t enough. Let them know that you have addressed the issue that caused them to leave. Even if your company technically didn’t do anything wrong, make it clear that you can understand why they would be upset, and that you’ve taken steps to make their next purchase more satisfactory. You may even want to go above and beyond by offering them a discount or special offer.

There’s no shame in contacting your ex-customers; it’s not like calling an ex-lover and begging them to take you back. It’s more like saying “I’m sorry” to a good friend you’ve slighted. There’s no guarantee that you’ll repair the relationship, but you’ll have acted in good faith. With any luck, you’ll end up with more customers in the long run.



This article has been edited and condensed.

Vladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc, the standard-bearer of online folder printing.  Company Folders is the only printing company to offer a 365-day quality guarantee. Connect with @vgendelman on Twitter.


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