Why do you lose customers? Do you know? When you’re trying to get one more customer, it can be very helpful to know both what you’re doing right as well as what you might be able to improve on.

In any business, the customer has to come first. If you’re not providing value to your customers through your products and services, then any business will ultimately fail. Talking to customers is key to providing value. By talking to customers, you can find out what they like about your business, and where they find the value to be. But it’s just as important to talk to former customers. Satisfied customers might tell you a lot of positive things, but a customer you’ve lost can tell you a lot, too.

Sometimes, talking to a former customer will end up revealing it was a situation unique to that specific customer. But other times, you might realize that there is a deeper problem, and one that you can take steps to fix and retain more customers in the future. Or you might find that there are simple steps you can take to even win that customer back!

Jeanne Bliss, the founder of a consulting company, gives five steps that business owners can follow. It’s a list of specific actions you can take:

1. Track Customers Who Have Departed. Make sure you know the number of customers you’ve lost, not just as a percentage or a dollar amount, but as a number of actual people.

2. Segment and Identify Those Who Departed. Of those customers you have lost, which ones contributed the most value to your business? Those are the ones to reach out to for recovery.
3. Reach Out to Customers with Respect, Reason, and Reconciliation. Contact the customers you’ve identified for recovery. Talk about why they left, really listening and making sure you understand their perspective. Then offer to find a way to resolve their concerns and make an offer to bring them back.
4. Categorize Reasons for Departure and Take Action. Regardless of whether a customer ends up coming back or not, keep track of the reasons they give for leaving. If you see a number of customers giving the same reason, that could become a top priority for you to get right, and soon!
5. Put Returned Customers into “Intensive Care.” If a customer agrees to come back, don’t just assume that’s the end of it. Keep an eye on him or her, and check back periodically to make sure the relationship is still on track and their concerns are being addressed.

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