Dear Customer, Have We Done Enough to Get You to Stay?

Once identifying your clients-at-risk, it's time to act - quickly and efficiently. Here's what you need to do

Matt Duczeminski
December 15 2017

Last month, we discussed some of the major warning signs customers exhibit  when they’re on the cusp of “breaking up” with your company.

We also explained the difference between “at-risk” and “lapsed,” and that customers who exhibit these warning signs (i.e., inaction, pattern changes, and overt dissatisfaction), can still be won back – if you act quickly.

Today, we’re going to talk about how you can get your at-risk customers back on track simply by reaching out to them the moment you realize something may be wrong. We’ll also provide some killer examples from organizations that know how a well-written, relevant email can strengthen the bond between their brand and their all-but-churned customers.

Let’s get to it.

How to Reach Out to Your At-Risk Customers Via Email

Be Grateful

First things first, you want to make it clear to your at-risk customers that you truly appreciate everything they’ve done for you throughout the course of your relationship.

Now, we don’t just mean thanking them for their business (although that’s a part of it). It’s more important to look past business transactions in order to truly realize how valuable your customers are to your business – and to realize that they, too, may have put some effort into the relationship, as well.

A few examples:

  • A customer that defected from a competing company took a chance when they switched to your brand
  • Long-time customers essentially lower the cost of running your business the longer they stay on board
  • Customers who have reached out with complaints have taken the time to point out a problem with your service – allowing you to focus on fixing the issue for all of your patrons

Simply put:

Your at-risk customers probably don’t think this deeply about their relationship with your company. They most likely don’t realize just how valuable they’ve been to your business. Some of them probably assume you’ll forget all about them and find someone else to do business with.

Showing gratitude to your at-risk customers is incredibly empowering, as it helps them understand that not only does their patronage matter to your business, but their voice and their opinion makes an enormous difference, as well.

Take a look at this email:


In this example, Tailor Brands makes a few things crystal clear:

  • They truly value their customers’ patronage
  • The opinions of their customers help shape the way the company operates
  • They are thankful for everything their customers do to help the company grow

Be Curious

You definitely want to get to the bottom of why your at-risk customer has changed their engagement habits, remained inactive, or actively expressed dissatisfaction with your service.

Ideally, you’ll have noticed such behavior before the customer has reached out to your company, and can preemptively touch base with them before they walk away for good.

(You may recall that 96% of unhappy customers won’t complain – they’ll just leave.)

Take a look at the email Basecamp sends its users after a period of inactivity:


The people at Basecamp prove that their main focus is on improving the service they provide and, in turn, improving the user’s overall experience with the service.

But there’s more to this example.

They prove with this email that they don’t forget about their users after they’ve gotten them to sign up for the service. Judging from the first line of this message, it’s clear the company had sent previous messages asking the user if they needed assistance. Although the emails are obviously automated, they serve to open a line of communication that allow Basecamp’s users to have their voices be heard.

Basecamp also avoids pressuring the user to stick around if they don’t want to; in fact, the message does the exact opposite, accepting the user’s potential decision to churn rather gracefully. But the company does make one last-ditch effort to gather some insight from the dissatisfied user which, again, could lead to internal improvements within the organization.

While it’s commonly said that curiosity is what killed the cat, the truth is, it could end up saving your business.

Be Personal and Personable

In the spirit of showing your at-risk customers that you care about them, you need to approach them in a personal and personable manner.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to personally contact your at-risk customers (which, of course, can be near-impossible if you have a large following).

It simply means that the emails you send to these individuals need to be empathetic to their unique situation and connect with them in a human-to-human manner.

Check out this email from ecommerce store Not On The High Street:


As we said, each of your customer’s circumstances and experiences with your brand will be unique in at least one way. When reaching out to your at-risk customers, make sure to mention something about their unique relationship with your company (e.g., the length of time they’ve been a customer, the length of time it’s been since they last logged in, or the date of their last login). In this case, the email points out that the customer hasn’t been engaging with other emails the company has recently sent.

Another thing to note about this email is its friendly, unassuming copy. Through a non-threatening, conversational tone, the people at NOTHS simply ask their inactive customers if there’s anything they can change or do to better serve their needs.

Lastly, rather than giving customers an ultimatum, this email provides them with a few choices:

  • Make a purchase and receive 10% off
  • Amend their preferences to receive fewer emails
  • Unsubscribe from the mailing list altogether

A black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to customer relations will almost certainly go south and fast. More importantly, it’s not how any healthy relationships work, either personally or professionally.

While approaching your at-risk customers with a “strictly business” mindset will likely drive them away, doing so in a personal and personable manner may be just what it takes to keep them engaged with your company just long enough to get them back on track.

Focus on Value

Although you do want to be personable when reaching out to an at-risk customer, you don’t want to do so in lieu of providing value.

You can be personable and provide value at the same time (such as in the examples from above offering discounts in exchange for engagement).

But you can also focus on value in other ways, as well.


In the above example, Brooklinen showcases the true value of their customers: without them, the growth the organization experienced simply wouldn’t have been possible.

You might also choose to remind your at-risk customers of the value they’ve received from your company:


Going back to the importance of personalization, you can choose to remind your customers of the milestones and achievements they’ve attained through the use of your services.

We’ll get into strategy in our next post. For now, just remember that your ultimate goal whenever you reach out to your customers – especially those most at risk of churning – is, above all else, to provide value.

Wrapping Up and Moving On

No matter what behavior your at-risk customers have exhibited, there’s always something you can do to reach them before they walk away forever.

But before you even think of approaching them, you need to adopt a mindset of gratefulness, curiosity, and empathy if you want to keep them on your good side.

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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