You’ve lost a customer, now what?

by Jennifer Young

Posted on March 21, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Man running to customer

You’ve just learned you’ve lost a customer. Now what?

First, keep your personal pride in check. A “good riddance” attitude will potentially close any future opportunity with your lost customer. It’s better to take the humble, high road and discover what you can learn from this process.

It’s human nature to hate change. That’s because there’s more work and an unknown fear involved in change. People often resist change because it can be painful. If you have lost a customer, it means they think staying with your company is more painful than any fears of pain they may have about switching vendors.

After your attitude is in check, you need to find out why they left. Did a solution or lack of one to a problem leave them dissatisfied? Did they find a better deal elsewhere? Did they feel unappreciated because of a lack of regular contact? Don’t be afraid to come right out and ask. If the reason they left is a mystery, you’ll be unable to resolve or learn anything.

Third, you need to take responsibility. Honesty is still the best policy in 2016! If anyone in your company is responsible for their decision to stop working with you, take responsibility and say you’re sorry. It’s funny how “I’m sorry” is one of the first sentences a child will learn, and yet, as adults, it can be difficult to say. Never underestimate the power of those two little words. Customers want to feel like their voice is heard. If they’ve been overlooked or wronged, a sincere apology will go a long way. Empathize with them, understand their pain and make it right, even if all you can offer is an “I’m sorry”.

Finally, keep the lines of communication open for the future. After you’ve listened to them, let them know that if they ever decide to return how you will ensure the problem never happens again. If you’ve kept good records, you will already know their buying patterns, when their leases or contracts typically start and end and even their budget information. So make sure to ask them if you can keep in touch periodically. It would also be helpful to ask them to consider giving you a second chance in the future, either when their contract comes up again or if their new vendor fails to meet their needs. If they come back to you in the future, this will mean change, so make the change easy on them by minimizing discomfort. They will never return if they feel like an uncomfortable conversation needs to be had before they can ask for a quote. So clear all the air now as they are leaving.

In closing, the best route is not to lose your customer in the first place. Try to stay ahead of situations that could cause problems. While you’re striving to win new business and new customers remember to appreciate and communicate with your current customers. You can successfully do this through surveys, calls and emails. While conducting surveys, make sure to address any issues you discover with current customers. Hand written thank you notes are always a nice touch once a year and little gifts of appreciation never hurt either.

Follow these steps and, while you may have lost a customer, you have the potential to eventually welcome them back!

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