Renewing contact with lapsed customers
Contacting past customers and renewing relationships
No matter the size of your business, renewing contact with lapsed customers is a huge opportunity that many organizations neglect to maximize. A lapsed customer is first and foremost a customer – they have engaged with your brand and your product at least once in the past, and so the hurdle of conversion has already been cleared.
Reasons why customers move on
When I start working with new clients, I always begin by suggesting that they contact their lapsed customers. It never fails to surprise me that very few firms investigate the reasons why their customers stop ordering from them. It is not always the case that they have become unhappy with the service or product.
Perhaps the contact within their company who used to order from you has moved on – the new buyer may not know about you, or they are continuing to use another supplier they used working elsewhere. Make an appointment to meet the new buyer or very least talk to them over the telephone. Get the business back.
Some other common reasons why customers stop engaging with your firm:
- have lost a contract and no longer need to order your product
- your competitors have won the account – you can find out why, and use this as a learning opportunity
- suffered a bad experience with your product or brand and need a chance to air their grievances – investigate what happened and arrange a meeting. Show you have taken steps to improve product or service.
- simply forgot about you and need a reminder you exist!
Set up a system that will quickly alert you to when a customer stops ordering or sales slacken. Do not delay in calling or visiting to find out the reason why sales have dropped.
Renewing a contact
Before you make contact with the lapsed customer, look at the sales pattern and any notes you may have on their account. Has the drop in sales been steady over a matter of months, or was it quite dramatic? Look at the type of services and / or the products they were buying, and speak to your sales and accounts departments in case they are aware of anything.
You also need to think about how you are going to handle this potentially sensitive call. You may need to respond to an unhappy customer, or talk to a new buyer who is unfamiliar with your brand. Be prepared for these common situations and you will increase your chances of rekindling the relationship. Finally, if your contact has moved on you should always find out where they work now. This can be another great opportunity for a new sale with a new company.
Lapsed customers are not something to fear or lament – they can represent excellent new opportunities for you and your firm. Start contacting them today!