One school of thought among customer service managers today is that it doesn't pay to wow your customer.
Instead, it is more desirable — and more cost effective — to "meet expectations."
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with that strategy for retaining customers, it is not a solution for winning back customers.
Why would you want to win back customers?
So you don't have to start from scratch.
The cost of attaining new customers is far greater than retaining them.
"Lost customers" may have replaced your company — but they were once regulars, and did at one point have fond memories of your business.
You need to rekindle the flame, and often, it's not that different.
It's definitely less expensive than cultivating a customer.
Clearly, the optimal state is to always operate in a way that naturally retains customers, so your business isn't faced with losing customers.
Such a retailer would have a solid loyalty program, innovative programming, special events and a personalized approach overall.
But miscommunication happens and mistakes are made. All is not necessarily lost, but you must be authentic in your approach.
Here are 3 ways to win the customer back.
1: Apologize sincerely
Saying, "I'm sorry" is anathema to some retailers.
However, some situations simply do require a direct apology: Shipments that routinely missed delivery dates, a chronic shortage of salespeople, unreasonable check out lines, for instance.
Those circumstances can and should be addressed at the moment of impact.
Some of those can slip under the radar and aren't noticed until they've created a pattern.
If a specific problem has come to your attention that has caused a significant drop in regular shoppers, you can address the situation with a positive promise in a customer communication after the fact: "We're happy to let you know about our new personal shopper program," or "We have increased our associate staffing to get you in and out of our store faster."
2: A coupon helps
Discounts and coupons are a common customer retention tactic, but can also work for those who have drifted off.
The best way to regain these customers and begin to build loyalty is by saving them money.
Note, you're not rebuilding loyalty, because chances are, you never had it.
You'll have to start over with the disadvantage of having to make up for a negative past.
Own up to what went wrong and offer a gesture in compensation.
3: Find out why they left
Data analysis can help.
Look at your customer data and evaluate past purchases.
Determine what the sweet spot is for this customer.
And, importantly, see if you can note a trend that would allow you to predict what other customers might also follow suit, so you can form an intervention plan.
If you can have a dialogue with those customers — in person, via email or chat session — try to learn what would make them return.
Not every customer is a keeper.
For example, the customer who is a bully with employees or the customer who abused return policies are not worth the time and effort to keep them.
But most customers are worth retaining, because they fit your target customer persona, spend regularly and some are vocally loyal.
Marketing Metrics says you have a 20-40% chance of winning back an ex-customer.
Simply meeting their minimum expectations means they might return another day.
Exceeding expectations means you won't have to chase after them when a "better deal"— whether for price or service — comes along.