Guide

Increase your market share

Get old customers back

If people have bought from you before, they may buy from you again. You need to find out why they stopped buying from you and apply that knowledge to regain their custom.

Find out what changed

Identify why customers stopped buying from you. Consider whether your product or service is:

  • no longer necessary
  • too expensive
  • unsatisfactory
  • being beaten by a competitive offer

Rebuild contact with your customers

Research suggests the reason many customers stop buying is because they don't feel that they have sufficient contact with their suppliers.

Try to have some form of regular contact so that customers don't feel they are being ignored and look elsewhere. This could take the form of:

  • monthly or quarterly phone calls
  • formal or informal visits to customers
  • mailshots
  • email newsletters

If you have lost a customer for this reason, your first step is to rebuild contact and prove that you understand their needs. For example you could send a letter expressing regret that they have stopped buying from you and making them a time-limited offer.

It's worth trying a few times, but don't persist if you aren't getting any response. Many businesses have a limit to the amount of times they contact lapsed customers - usually five or seven times.

Make an offer to tempt them back

When you know why the customer is no longer buying from you, consider ways to make your business more appealing.

For example, if your customers think the price was too high, consider a time-limited discount to encourage them to start buying again, eg 20 per cent off for three months.

If your service was unsatisfactory, ask what you could do to make it meet your customer's expectations and assess if it is possible and profitable for you to adapt your service for the former customer. 

Be realistic

While you may be able to tempt many customers back, remember that you don't want them at all costs. You want to build a long-term profitable relationship. It's not usually a good idea to make long-term offers that don't contribute any profit just to get a specific customer back, unless there are compelling strategic reasons to do so.

You should build these actions into your marketing plan. The faster you contact a lapsed customer, the greater the chance they will come back to you. See write a marketing plan.