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How To Win Back Old Customers

Do you have inactive customers that you want to win back? Here's a summary of what to do and what not to do.

Most businesses have an established customer base or repeat customers.  These customers account for most of the revenue a business generates as compared to one-off customers.  Marketing Expert, Ivana Taylor explains that a study done by Marketing Metrics found that there is a:

  • 60 to 70% chance of successfully selling again to a current customer
  • 20 to 40% chance of winning back an ex-customer; but just
  • 5 to 20% chance of turning a prospect into a customer.

This clearly shows that your chances of winning back an old customer are better than finding a new customer.  Though businesses should always aim to reach more potential customers and create awareness of their product/ service, by strategically targeting old customers you minimize your customer acquisition expenses and generate more revenue.

People that have done business with your organization or used your products/services are considered old customers, especially when no new business or income has been received from them over a period of time.  Proper documentation of your sales and other business transactions along with a good Customer Relationship Management System are essential in tracking your customers and identifying old customers.

A campaign to win back old customers can be executed through various media – telephone, email, social media or sales representatives.  We will review some considerations for winning back old customers and offer some tips you can implement to win back old customers.

Before Attempting To Win Customers Back

Here are some considerations to evaluate and steps to complete before contacting old customers or launching a campaign to win back old customers:

Evaluate Your Customer History

Ivana points out that some customers are better off as old customers. Especially in the case of Business-to-business (B2B) organizations, business owners must be strategic in evaluating what was working and what was not.  For instance, your business may benefit more from letting an old customer that was a collection nightmare, and failed to pay invoices on time or in full, remain an old customer.  Proper documentation will ensure you have records to determine if a customer was beneficial to your business or not.

Brian Ainsley Horn recommends an analysis of the situation and adequate preparation before embarking on the journey to win back old customers. By taking the time to evaluate the purchase history and interactions with your old customers, you can identify the most effective means for reaching such customers.

Make Improvements

Though some customers stop patronizing a business unconsciously due to distractions of everyday life or competitors, some stop using your product/service due to service failures or dissatisfaction with your organization.  Use surveys and feedback forms to gather relevant information from old customers. Reflect on the information received and resolve any service issues that may have caused the exit of old customers.

Look for creative ways to make it up to your customers when your organization does not deliver on expectations to win back old customers.  If marketing from competitors or pricing is the reason customers are not returning, evaluate your offering or re-position your business to be more competitive.

Tips to Win Back Old Customers

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Make An Offer

Promos, discounts and other relevant incentives are an effective way to attract old customers back to your business.  Knowledge of your customers and how they use your product or service will help you decide the most effective offer or promo to use.  As confirmed by the statistics, people that have patronized your business previously are more likely to do so again.  By offering incentives and promotions that are time-bound you create urgency and motivate such customers to patronize your business again, often sooner than they would have.

Engage

Customers respond best to communication that is not asking for sales directly.  Content that is valuable to the customer is more likely to engage the customer and put you in their mind next time they need the product or service you provide.  Share relevant industry news, articles, and tips with your old customers to subtly direct them back to your business.

Mr. Brian offers some brilliant tips for winning back old customers, one such tip is referring business to your old customer.  He explains that no matter what industry or business you are in, you can find creative ways to promote your customer’s interests and thereby position yourself as a valuable partner that the customer wants to keep doing business.  With the popularity of social media platforms, like Instagram, simply re-posting content from your old customer can put you in the old customers’ purview.

Sell Your business

Identify your key competitive factors. What do you do better than your competitors? What do you have that nobody else has? Project these attributes in your marketing messages, in your newsletter and at every opportunity to reinforce your value to your old customers.  Competitors may have very creative marketing that has won over some of your old customers.  By subtly elaborating on your unique selling points, you can win back your old customers.  This can be done through product/service demonstrations or by writing a blog that showcases your expertise and unique understanding of your customer’s business or needs.

Use Your Knowledge

Leverage your knowledge of your clients’ business or operations to cross-sell products or offer other services to the organization.  Customers may not be aware of all the other products and services your business provides.  Learning about your customer’s life, business, and interests can help you build lasting relationships.  This knowledge can then be leveraged later on to win back the customer if the customer becomes an old customer.

Ensure Continuous Improvement

As change is the only constant, businesses that fail to learn, implement and improve their processes and operation over time will surely become obsolete to customers.  Businesses must keep in mind that customers are insatiable in their needs.  With advancements in technology, competition only gets more intense so businesses must adapt to changes and find unique ways to distinguish themselves from competitors.

Use improvements in your products or services as a means to win back old customers by announcing such improvements through emails or newsletters and organizing events to reveal innovations or demonstrate improvements in your product or service.

Conclusion

Customers are the lifeblood of every business, therefore, a conscious effort must be made to offer exceptional service to customers, meet expectations and win back old customers.   Ensure you have proper Customer Relationship Management and record systems to facilitate your efforts to win back old customers.  Then offer incentives and value to your old customers to win them back to your organization.

Chinazom Elizabeth Izuora
Chinazom Elizabeth Izuora
Chinazom has a Bachelors in Business Administration with a major in marketing management and over 4 years of practical experience working as a business consultant providing business development and operational support to organizations.

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