As a sales professional, you might be spending a lot of time working to win new customers and to keep your sales figures afloat. Those are certainly worthy endeavours, but if they’re done at the expense of existing customers, you could be facing a hit to your bottom line when one of your customers jumps ship.
It’s not ideal, but it doesn’t have to be all over either. Before you bid your final farewell to that unhappy customer, make an effort to win him back. Here’s how to do it.
First, find out what drove your customer away
Be ready to eat a little bit of humble pie as you ask that former customer to give you a reason for leaving. A telephone conversation can work well and spare the customer the awkwardness of a face-to-face confrontation, but email also works.
Create a survey
If the customer seems less than forthcoming via one of these methods, you could also create a short survey that allows the customer to answer questions like "what could we have done better?" or "is there a specific situation, personal or business process that caused you to change your mind about working with us?" You can also lay out scenarios and ask the customer to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 10. List things like "customer service," "pricing of services," and so on.
Research how to sweeten your deal
Whatever you do, don’t try to minimize the customer’s reasoning or bad-mouth the competition with whom your lost customer decided to work, reminds Selling Power magazine. That’s just going to make you look like a sore loser. Instead, use the information that customer gave you to create a strategy for winning them back. If the customer left because of lower prices, crunch the numbers and decide whether your business can afford to match that price -- taking into consideration, of course, that this is not a one-off customer, but instead someone who’s giving you long-term business. If it was a customer service issue, find out who was delivering poor customer service, or whether a certain company policy was causing the customer service to be less than ideal. If it’s possible to change those processes or the people who deliver them, do so.
Ask how you can sweeten the deal
Here’s another method that will demonstrate directly how you’re working to please that customer: Ask them what you can do to win them back. If it’s possible to meet the customer’s demands, do so.
Throw in something extra
Don’t stop at doing what the customer asks, however. If that customer is really valuable, show them just how valuable they are by adding in that little extra something. Offer an additional product on the side, a little more of your time than you offer other customers, or anything else you can think of that shows you’re going the extra mile.
When you win back that customer you thought you’d lost, all your efforts will indeed be worth the trouble.