Before customers churn, they’ve usually put a lot of thought into whether or not they’ll leave you behind. This makes it quite challenging to bring churned customers back. But it’s not impossible; you can bring them back. A study from Harvard Business Review says “[Businesses] might be better served by smart strategies aimed at getting lost customers to come back to the fold.” Let’s see and examine 5 smart strategies you can employ to recover customers who have drifted away.
Follow up with customers who have reason to like you
Some customers are more likely to come back than others. You can identify them by the type of relationship they’ve had with your business before they left. Do they always get satisfactory responses from your support? Was there ever a time they were charged for no reason and weren’t properly refunded?
When looking for churned customers to reactivate, it’s best to go for those who had positive experiences with your brand. Researchers in the HBR study above found that: “…customers who have referred others, who have never complained, or who have had complaints that were satisfactorily resolved are the best bets.” When you see customers who never documented issues with your product opt out, chase them down and find out why they’re leaving. They’re the type of customers who’ll be willing to tell you what annoys them about your product and will be happy to come back if you can resolve the issue.
Call churned customers with a high lifetime value (LTV)
As a business, you care about every customer. But customers with a high lifetime value (LTV) make more money for your business. If a customer who pays you $30/month churns, your business will suffer some heat. But how about a $100/month client? That would have an even greater effect on your business. You’d lose $1200 in a year. What happens when it’s 30, 50, 100, or thousands of unhappy customers? It’s shocking how quickly this deficit adds up.
When high value customers leave (perhaps they’re tagged as enterprise customers at your company), you want to reach out to them with actual phone calls (or as a second option, highly personalized emails) to discuss why they’re leaving and what you’re willing to do (eg: free version till feature X is ready) to retain them as customers.
Close.io Founder Steli Efti mirrors the same idea: “Get your churned customer on the phone. Only do email as a last resort. Having a real conversation with your departing customer is integral to learning something meaningful from the exercise. It’s all about going deeper, asking questions, and coming to a real, detailed understanding of your customer.”
Tell churned customers about new features and improvements
Chances are high your customers are churning because of some feature or strength your product lacks. So when you inform them of your new features (assuming you still have the emails of your churned customers), they may happily reactivate their accounts. Mark Greatrex, CMO at Cox Communications, said their strategy revolves around making customers aware of new features “We have new services, such as one-gigabit internet speeds and home automation and security systems, that give lost customers a reason to take a second look.” Of course, your new features may not have to cost you as much as one-gigabit or a home automation systems. It’s the perceived value that counts, and the customer’s sense that you have made a concerted effort to meet their needs.
Stay top-of-mind (TOMA) with churned customers
Not all customers churn because of a product feature problem. Some churn because they really didn’t need your product at during a specific time period. For these types of customers, you need to stay on top of mind. They don’t need your new feature announcements. They left because they didn’t need your product. So what you need is for them to remember you when they need your product in the future. Workable, for example, isn’t a product you’ll use every day unless you’re hiring workers on a daily basis.
When Workable experiences customer churn, it’s not always because users have a problem with the product. It’s more likely they needed it for a season (wherein they were hiring) and don’t need it right now. When it’s time to hire again, they know where to find Workable. In a case like this, trying to force reactivation may annoy customers. What you need is to stay top-of-mind so they remember you once it’s time to use your product.
Push out high value content
Sometimes customers leave because there’s a new brand in town. Ouch. This is something you have almost no control over, but you can make yourself appear more attractive to them than the new competitor. Pushing out content that helps them solve nagging problems is a great way of making your brand their favorite again. If that new brand has all of the features you provide, great content is a smart way to differentiate yourself. Write for your audience and cater to their needs through how to’s, product inspiration, helpful tips, etc.
Bringing back lost customers is entirely possible by using smart strategies aimed at welcoming lost customers to come back to the fold. Just understand you can’t bring back every churned customer. While you can reactivate many of them, you have to let some go. Once you realize you can’t resolve certain issues that made customers churn, you need to take a step back and remember it’s the nature of any business that customers come and go. You earn your stripes as a business, and learn to take the good with the bad. Use the strategies above to work through the issues churned customers face and you will be pleasantly surprised at the faithful followers who will make their way back to you.