In an ideal world, once we win over a customer, they'll stay with us forever.
All small business owners know that couldn't be farther from the truth, however. Whether it's the result of a critical customer service blunder or a new competitor, we win and lose clients on a regular basis.
That said, losing a customer doesn't mean the relationship is severed for good. It can take a bit of effort, but it is possible to win them back.
Ask yourself: Do you really want them back?
Before making the knee-jerk reaction of desperately trying to get your customer through your doors again, assess whether it's actually worth the effort.
Have a look over the customer's past records and determine whether they were a reliable source of business - and whether they are likely to continue being so, should you win them back. If purchases have been sporadic and communication minimal, it might be better focusing your efforts on attracting entirely new clients.
Reach out to them
It's absolutely crucial you make an effort to find out the underlying reason they left in the first place.
Whether it's through a call, an email or a survey, thank them for their business with you and politely request details on what made them leave you. Was it due to an incident of poor customer service, a failure to meet one of their most important needs, or a competitor who is offering something better?
Knowing the reason for their departure will help you decide on the course of action to take.
Tailor your responses
Once you understand the reasons for them leaving, you can choose from a range of strategies to win them back.
If they were frustrated by poor service, acknowledge the error on your end and promise that you'll improve your customer care - make sure you're confident of keeping to your word though! Offering special deals or incentives can be a good way to entice them.
For external problems such as a new competitor with a superior offering, more effort may be required. This could involve, for example, a major rebranding or service update to ensure you're staying abreast of the competition.