How to Keep and Win Back Clients

October 20, 2011

Research shows that it's easier and cheaper to keep and sell to existing customers than to new ones. A Sales & Marketing Magazine survey reports that it costs 133 percent more to sell to new customers than current ones.

In Customer Winback, Jill Griffin and Michael Lowenstein say that selling to new customers has a success rate as low as 5 percent and selling to current customers has a success rate up to 70 percent. That should be enough to convince companies to work harder on customer service to ensure current clients are happy.

Retaining Customers

To keep current clients requires doing activities like the following:

  • Ensure all employees have a good attitude when interacting with customers.
  • Take good care of the customer's project, product or service.
  • Use a a database of customer information, tracking their needs and identifying loyal customers.
  • Earn customer trust so they give you permission to send them marketing materials, emails and valuable information.
  • Take action when a customer reports a problem.
  • Show you care about them.
  • Be accountable no matter where blame belongs.
  • Respond to calls, emails and any messages quickly.
  • Avoid taking customer loyalty for granted.

You can also turn customers into lifelong fans by asking them the three questions mentioned in the blog post.

Bringing Back Past Customers

Not only is it easier to sell to current customers than to new ones, but also it's easier to sell to past customers than new ones. According to Griffin and Lowenstein, the success rate for converting past clients is 20 to 40 percent -- much better than the 5 percent for new customers.

The first thing to do in chasing down former clients is to find out why they left. Many believe they leave because they found a better price or their needs changed. That's not the case. A RightNow Technologies survey reveals that 73 percent of those surveyed left because of customer service.

To win back former clients, follow these steps:

  1. Apologize.
  2. Ask why they left.
  3. Explain how you will fix the problem and prevent it from happening again. Even if you don't know how to solve the problem, let them know you will contact the right personnel to explore solutions.
  4. Follow up with an update on solving the problem.
  5. Do the activities in the "retain current customers" list if they return.

What other ways can you win over a former client? How do you ensure current clients stay happy? Please share in the comments section.