Getting Back a Customer

Submitted 10/22/2013 by Kaloyan Georgiev

If you run your own business, there is a certain chance you have competitors and a smaller (not small, but not certain either) chance you've lost a customer to them. And that stinks, because you have invested time and money and patience in this relationship and suddenly the customer goes and uses the service of your competitor. It feels like cheating. You are sure this is what business cheating feels like. But this is it - the deal goes off. At least for you. But you need not to worry, humble reader! We are here to help you get that customer back. Here's how:

1. Find out the reason -  trace back your steps, try to pinpoint the exact time when things went bad. If you are close with the customer and you communicate a lot, you will probably have a clue about what's going on, but if you're not close - speak with the employee who keeps in touch with the client, ask him what happened and when, and if there are any deviations from the normal. Do not assume that the first problem that appears is the actual reason. Dig deeper.

2. Contact the customer - next step is the confrontation - call or meet with the customer (the decision maker in the company) and ask two simple questions - why are they leaving and what can you do to win them back. This is all you need. It is a win-win situation you have here - you will either make them reconsider their decision to leave (due to you showing concern) or you will find out the real reason. If you get to scenario number 2 - do not apologize. Instead, promise to find out what happened and make the service better. But here is the thing - you need to listen carefully, no matter what the answer is.

3. Decide how serious is the problem - till now, you should know why the customer wants to leave. Now, you need to find out how big the problem is and if you can do something to change it. Now, you might say that you need to do anything possible to change things and get the customer back, but think about that - is the problem specific or general. Specific problems include latencies, a problem with a specific person from your company, one-time accidents etc. These are easy to overcome. But general problems are tricky, because they are problems with the price policy, with your business model as a whole or any other thing that means changing the way you do business generally. This is why they are tricky, because if you change them, you might get back this customer, but you might lose your other customers also;

4. Decide if you want the customer back - once you know the seriousness of the problem you will need to decide what is better - fixing the problem and getting the customer back or, you know, not getting the customer back, because fixing the problem means changing your business model and/or is very, very expensive. It is not easy to decide, but once you figure that out, you are on the way to the finish (of the steps);

5. Contact the customer (again) - in case you decided to get back the customer - you need to contact him one more time. If you decided to not get back the customer, well, we hope we help you to realize that.So, send an email to the customer thanking him for the input and explaining thoroughly what changes you have made. Wait two or three days and call the customer personally and explain that you have changed everything he felt was wrong and thank him once again. In 80% of the cases - the customer will get back, but if he doesn't he will get back once he stops working with your competition. 

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