Every retailer aims to attract as many customers as possible to patronize their products or services in order to maximize profitability. A huge active customer base implies an expansive bottom-line. As prevalent as it may be, the worst nightmare of every business is to lose customers, especially the loyal customers who are always the most profitable. Lost customers still remain valuable to every business than new prospects and efforts should be made to win such customers back.
A study by Marketing Metrics concluded that there is a 60 to 70 percent chance of successfully re-selling to a current customer, a 20 to 40 percent chance of winning back a lost customer, and a 5 to 20 percent chance of turning a prospect into a customer. This suggests a business may face dire consequences if they neglect lost customers, with the hope of gaining new ones, but rather stands a greater chance of regaining the trust of lost customers than winning over new customers.
How should you go about winning back your lost customers?
• Make the Customer feel Important.
This is usually a positive technique for gaining the loyalty of customer. All humans desire to feel important, and this goes especially for a customer who feels unhappy about a product acquired or service received from your outlet. You need to put in that extra effort to get that customer back and to make them feel like they are the only thing that matters. This could be achieved by regular messaging on Whatsapp, email or any of the social media platforms available. Beyond this, offering customers free delivery, a store credit, or perhaps a free store souvenir would make them feel important. For retail outlets, it calls for an updated customer contact database, additionally staff to be on the lookout and to contact customers with irregular or no visits at all. Going that one extra mile seals the deal and helps to convert today’s unhappy customer to a brand ambassador.
• Hear out the customer and Apologize
The word “sorry” would always heal a multitude of pain. A customer may have a “sound” reason for being dissatisfied with your product or service offering. Though it may not be reasonable to you, learn to listen to customer complaints and say sorry to your unhappy customers. It may be difficult to apologize under certain circumstances, but it’s always best to sincerely do so to avoid prolonging issues and to win them back. For instance, it sounds nonsensical to render an apology to a customer who expresses dissatisfaction by using harsh and abusive language on your shop floor without provocation. Give such customers the benefit of the doubt as they may be taking their tough situations on you unknowingly.
Most times unhappy customers are only looking for opportunities to be heard over little misunderstandings and a simple apology would win them back
• Empathize with the Customer
Related to the above, it is important for retailers to put themselves in the shoes of unhappy customers and understand situations from their perspectives. If for instance a customer orders flowers from a supermarket, to be delivered for an occasion, and is informed on the due date that the order is delayed and cannot be delivered. The retailer in such a situation should first empathize with the customer, avoid turning defensive, and should not blame the disappointing situation on others in the presence of the customer. When a customer is understood, it makes serving them easier.
Empathy further implies being flexible to customer needs, and not sticking to rigid rules of service. Put yourself in customers’ position, with the knowledge that when you have taken their money to deliver a product or service, you become responsible for the total solution. Leaving up to this expectation will resolve customer complaints and win back unhappy customers.
• Fix the Problem
There is always a reason why a retailer would lose a customer. It could be due to delays in service delivery, poor communication, poor product offering/ exorbitant prices, etc. Beyond the apology and the empathy shown, aim at offering a solution to the customer. If a customer has stopped visiting your store because you’re not living up to your promise of providing a range of items, make that promise a reality and seek to ensure a positive conclusion to every unhappy customer saga, especially to your existing and loyal customers.
There is no point empathizing with the customer and apologizing to the unhappy ones if the unpleasant situation persists. The most difficult customer could get very reasonable when efforts are made to repair an uncomfortable encounter they have experienced.
• Have an appropriate Returns & Exchange Policy
For shops that deal with non-consumables, it is necessary to have an appropriate returns policy for items purchased that need to be returned or exchanged because of non-functionality or wrong fit. Customers may feel cheated, unhappy and defrauded if they spend their hard earned cash on expensive non-consumables which eventually turn out to be inappropriate and the shop refuses to accept such products back. Irrespective of what they need to acquire, customers are spoilt for choice now with retail outlets to shop from. The absence of an appropriate returns policy may cause a retailer to lose customers for good. This particularly applies to high end apparel, electronics and home appliances outlets among others.
Convert today’s unhappy customer to a brand champion by instituting a fair and reasonable exchange & returns policy; for instance it would be unfair to insist on a returns policy with a deadline of up to 3 days after purchase, instead a returns period of up to 14 days after purchase seems fair.
• Feedback System
Maintain a workable feedback system to help ascertain why customers leave, especially if they are good customers that you would want to win back. A good customer feedback system should be guided by these three nuggets; make it convenient for customers to give feedback, act promptly on responses received, and share feedback with all staff (www.customercare.com). Feedback would help to ascertain exactly what could be done to improve products/ service offering. You may not get back all your unhappy customers, but you will have information that could help correct operational and system deficiencies and stop the next customer from leaving.
The above strategies are a means to keep your customers happy and to win back lost customers. Beyond these, retailers should focus on delivering on their brand promise and ensuring a positive experience for customers. In the midst of the intense competition, these elements will make positive impact on your bottom line.
About the Author
Amma is a Lead Consultant and trainer with M-DoZ Consulting. Kindly contact her on 0201196080 or email email@example.com for further information or contribution.