Dear Customer, Please Come Back

You lost a client. It happens, but it doesn't mean you should come to terms with it. Re-engaging lapsed customers is doable - and profitable. Part 2

Matt Duczeminski
December 16 2017

Yesterday, we talked about reaching out to customers via email , and re-engaging them via human-to-human communication. And while good, old-fashioned communication can be a catalyst for re-engagement, you’ll need to do a little more to get your ready-to-lapse customers back “on the hook.” We’re going to dig into some concrete strategies and look at a few companies that have successfully managed to keep customers interested—which we all know isn’t the easiest feat.

Here’s the deal; Customers may appreciate you letting them know how thankful you are for their business, and they might respond to you when you ask why they haven’t engaged with your products or services lately. But the chances of them doing further business with your company are still pretty slim. The simple truth is: they might not need your products or services anymore. It’s up to you to figure out what they need now, or otherwise, they’ll leave you.

Let’s look at four ways you can continue giving your at-risk customers some value and continue to win them over.

Get Exclusive

No matter how innovative your products are, after a while, they’ll become less relevant. This phenomenon can occur at a macro level (the original iPod, vs. the iPhone X); but it can also happen on an individual basis (once your customer got what they wanted out of your goods, they won’t care about the product anymore). In both cases, you should always be looking to your customers’ next pain point to figure out how you can best serve them. Take a look at the following example from creative agency StruckAxiom:

Alright, the “We missed you” line is cheesy and trite. But, they didn’t use it to say “we miss you, come back to us!” They used it to say “since you haven’t been active on our site, we figured we needed to do something on our end to pull you back in.” For those who had used StruckAxiom’s services in the past and “grown out” of them – this announcement might be incentive enough to check out the new things the company has to offer. You could also consider creating exclusive giveaways for your once-loyal customers, as well.

Children’s clothing store Carter’s hinted at a “secret” announcement/giveaway that only their Facebook followers could see. We’re guessing that at least some of the 25,637 people who “liked” this status update probably hadn’t purchased anything from the company in a while – but this quick little update may have been enough to re-ignite their interest in the brand. In both of these examples, the companies reached out to customers who had engaged with their brand before. Even if it had been a while, or even if the individuals were on the cusp of churning, the companies still saw them as part of the “in” crowd. The takeaway? Once someone buys one of your products, you should see them as a customer for life. No matter how long it’s been since their latest engagement, you should still do whatever you can to wrangle them back from the fringe.

Options Are Gold

Sometimes, it’s not that your at-risk customers want to completely stop doing business with your company. They might just need a change. They may not use all of the features of your product anymore. Or maybe you’ve updated the pricing and priced them out of the equation. Or maybe they just want to put things on hold for a bit. Whatever the case, you need to communicate with your customers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy.

Let’s go back to an example from our previous article:

Not On The High Street gives its dormant mailing list subscribers three options:

  • Make a purchase and get a 10% discount
  • Change their preferences to tailor the amount and type of emails NOTHS sends them
  • Unsubscribe from the mailing list completely

This email tells NOTHS’ customers, “we want what you want…whatever that may be.” The lesson here: Do nothing, and your at-risk customers will churn. Give them the option to do something, and at least you’re making a last-ditch effort to keep them around.

Take a look at the photo above. Live chat software company Pure Chat gives subscribers the option of pausing their account for a set amount of time (rather than unsubscribing altogether). During this period, the company still offers to store any data customers have saved in their account. Pure Chat allows customers to save money while they’re not using the software – but also remind them that they can always return. Losing only two months of business is way more preferable over losing a customer completely.

Sweeten The Deal

Providing incentives such as freebies or discounts can  entice at-risk customers to reengage, but your customers’ inboxes are bombarded with similar deals every single day – promotions that they probably ignore. Instead of sending out a blanket “20% off and free shipping” offer to customers on the cusp of churning, dig a bit deeper into the unique needs of each of these individuals, and figure out exactly what type of incentive they’d respond to the most. If you’re familiar with the paradox of choice, you know providing a specific discount works better than a generic one.

Which offer would a customer who usually only buys candles from Bath & Body Works appreciate more?20% off any in-store purchase

  • 20% off candles purchased in-store or online

Though the first offer gives the customer more freedom, the second one speaks directly to their typical purchasing behavior. Realistically, the customer’s reaction to the first one would probably be along the lines of “Eh, I’m sure they’ll offer it again,” while their reaction to the second would be “Ah! Better stock up while I can!”

(Source / GameStop is well-known for its trade-in programs.)

There’s a pretty good chance your customers will eventually outgrow your product, and start looking for the “next big thing” – whether from your company or a competitor’s. To keep customers from walking away, offer them a discount on the latest version of a product (a phone upgrade maybe) in exchange for the product they currently use. This accomplishes a couple of things. It keeps current customers moving forward with your brand, and it also allows you to refurbish the used product and sell it to a new customer at a highly-discounted price.

Make A Game Out Of It

We’ve talked about the benefits of gamification before. Nectar’s managing editor, James Moir, explains how the discount service uses gamification to keep at-risk customers interested in the brand and re-engage users who have officially lapsed:

“We run swipe-to-win campaigns with a number of our Nectar partners. It is a very simple mechanic that rewards every customer, with the chance of winning a big prize. It’s simple, efficient and can be marketed broadly, which keeps existing customers engaged and reactivates lapsed ones.” When implementing gamification into your re-engagement campaigns, there are three main principles to attend to:

  • Make it fun
  • Make it easy
  • Make it valuable

Obviously, any incentive you develop involving a game or puzzle needs to actually be fun for the customer. If it’s more of a chore, it’ll come through as a desperate ploy rather than a quirky add-on. The goal of a gamified offer isn’t to challenge your customers to the point of frustration – it’s to let them win and bring them back into the fold, and the reward must be good. It needs to be something your customers absolutely will not pass up. If it isn’t valuable, you’ll not only have disappointed them, but you’ll also have wasted their time – and they’ll definitely leave your brand for good.

GrubHub’s CMO Barbara Copppola explains how the delivery company uses gamification to open and close loops within their engaged and not-so-engaged customers’ minds in order to keep them coming back for more week after week:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/z2gbeA9V7jE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

The Main Takeaways

Your mantra with regard to at-risk customers should be:

Once a customer, always a customer.

It doesn’t matter if your customers engage with your brand every day or once a year; as long as they’ve given you their money, they deserve continuous value from your brand. If you can prove to your at-risk customers that your services are still relevant and valuable to their lives, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping them around for some time to come.


Matt Duczeminski

Matt is a professional writer specializing in helping entrepreneurs improve relationships with their customers. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sarah, and he'd probably get a lot more work done if his cat would stop bothering him.

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