Customer Experience News & Trends

Some customers don’t forgive: Are you ready to win them back?

Almost 60% of customers consider dumping you when they experience a mistake. Are you prepared to win them back?

The good news is that there’s a strong chance you can win back customers who are thinking about leaving, as well as those who’ve actually left.

About 40% of customers said they’re more likely to forgive a service mess-up if they felt like the company — or people working there — knew them, according to a recent Verint survey.

But rebounding from mistakes and rebuilding relationships isn’t something that can be left to chance. You need a plan, says Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0.

“You need a customer retention strategy,” Bliss says. “But many (companies) come to me and wonder: Is it too late? They’ve been focusing so much on acquisition that they’re not sure how to focus on retention.

“Your short answer: It’s not too late.”

Here’s what to do when you’ve made a mistake, are at risk of losing customers or want to bring back those who’ve already left:

1. Know who’s gone

A good recovery plan starts with knowing who has stopped or slowed business with you and when. Create criteria so you get some kind of alert when customers are on the fence.

For instance, set up your service or sales software to identify accounts that haven’t had much activity. Perhaps no one has ordered in your normal buying cycle, has lowered the order volume by a certain percentage or hasn’t acted on any marketing material in a certain number of months.

2. Segment customers

You don’t need to reach out to every customer when you see abnormal activity. What you need to do is touch base with those who’ve just experienced a mistake.

But remember: Some customers may not be worth chasing.

Some things you might want to consider before reaching out: profitability in the past few years and lifetime value.

Recognize the intangibles, too:

  • Is the customer constantly rude to service reps?
  • Does the customer call more than necessary, taking time away from other valuable customers?
  • Does the customer pay on time every time?

3. Call customers

With a list of the customers you want to win back, call them. This isn’t a time to reach out casually via social media or email.

Get a front-line customer service or sales pro who’s dealt with these customers before to reach out. Why them? Because customers are more open to coming back when they feel like someone knows and cares about them.

In some cases, executives will need to make a call in the rescue process. It will help them understand the issues that drive customers away and win back some of the biggest customers.

All calls — from the executives and sales or service pros — should include these elements:

  • An apology. “I’m sorry we’ve done something to cause you to leave us.”
  • Listening. Ask for and listen to reasons customers left.
  • Diagnosis. Determine all the reasons customers left — and ask them to verify that the conclusion you’ve come to is right.
  • Help. An offer of help to resolve issues and rebuild the strained relationship is also required.

4. Roll out the carpet

When customers agree to come back, the relationship is still fragile. Stay in touch. Monitor those strained accounts, and give them extra attention, Bliss suggests.

Make sure everyone in your organization knows the customers who’ve experienced a mistake or were wronged, and that they’re coming back. Now they need to give white-glove care.

One company calls it “10 Red Carpets.” After an incident that has drawn a customer away, the account is flagged. When employees see the flag, they know to make some extra-mile gesture for the next 10 experiences with that customer.

5. Follow up with yourself

If you go through this process periodically — trying to fix mistakes and recapture lost customers on regular intervals — you’ll find it easier to identify issues that drive customers away. For instance, maybe it’s an online hiccup, an indifferent employee or a bad sales offer.

Attach those issues to the revenue lost when customers leave or buy less. That should help you quickly identify the issues that need to be met head-on.

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