Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Revitalize Inactive Customers – Now Is Definitely the Time to Do It! Here’s How To Get Started

This is primarily used for B2B (business to business) clients but can be effective for B2C (business to consumer) as well. If you have the contact info for your “lost” customers, you are a head of the game. If you don’t – shame on you and start NOW.
The best way to approach this is objectively.
What you want to do it find out why they are not buying from you anymore. Don’t assume it is just the economy. Many things are needed so why aren’t they getting them from you?
There Can Be Many Reasons
·       Has the contact changed?
·       Did you/your company do something to upset them?
·        Do they believe or perceive that they don't need what your company offers anymore?
·       Or??
If you take a very objective, conversational approach by contacting them and asking them WHY they don't do business with your company anymore, you will receive many different answers.
 Each of Those Answers is an Opportunity
·       If the contact has changed, you have the opportunity to introduce yourself and your company to the new contact and be sure to emphasize the benefits of why your company is the best resource for their needs. This one can be one of the hardest sells because often the new contact has past providers that they are loyal to. In this case, it is best to get to a face to face meeting to review the savings, “over the top” service or other miracles that you have pulled off for their company. It is time to toot your own horn. People want to do business with someone who treats them special and by doing your homework and presenting a, “we care about you and your success,” approach, you have a better chance of them giving you a try over the person they have done business with. If you can, find out who the preferred vendor is, be sure that your presentation includes advantages of your company that the other company cannot provide. DO NOT make direct comparisons. NEVER bash a competitor. But if you do your skillful due diligence, you can present advantages without even mentioning the other company’s name. If you can, ask for a presentation time slot with others present – like the new person’s boss. This will potentially give you another advocate in the room and the boss will appreciate the effort you are going to to regain their business. If you’re lucky, they will apply a bit of pressure to the new person to buy from you. DO NOT do this without the permission of the new person. You could risk alienating them if you go around or above them.  
·        If your company did something to upset them – fix it. Fall on the sword if necessary. This is not a market in which one can take the low road. Even if the “error” was not your fault, suck it up and make it right.
 More Valuable Outcomes to Finding Out Why
·       One good reason to find out why the customer is not buying from you anymore is that if you collect the data in a database (even an excel doc if you aren't a techie), you will find patterns and trends as to why people have stopped doing business with your company.
·       If your company has changed whatever it is that caused people to stop buying from you, it is time to do a new campaign to all customers -- past and current-- to let them know how and why you are better now. If your company has not changed whatever it is that caused desertion, then you should bring the data to the attention of people in your company who can and will fix the problem. Remind them that if they don't fix the problem, the same thing will continue to happen. This is not a market in which losing customers can be taken lightly.
·       You may also unveil lifecycle information. You might find that a significant portion of the dead customers all left after a specific period of time-- say many left after 3 years. This will give you a lifecycle prediction for your existing clients. You need to work on extending that time period.
·       With this information, another opportunity presents itself ...find a way to re-engage your customers just before the 3 year period. We did this for a major luxury auto company and we found that the customer began shopping six months before their lease was up. So we engaged with the customers around 9 months before their lease was up. We offered them loyalty discounts. We refreshed appended data and complimented their accomplishments and tried to up sell them if their financial status had changed. It worked, we reengaged with this customer and with a little homework, we spoke to them as individuals. (This is where a full blown CRM/Loyalty Program is worth its weight in gold. If you are tracking all of their interactions with you, including web history, you can customize your approach to appeal to them directly.) DON’T send the same canned letter to everyone. I smacks (loudly) of insincerity. Take advantage of the data available to you, give it some thought and utilize POD (print on demand) to customize each communication to your customers.
·        If you find a clear lifecycle in your dead customers, it is a sure sign that you need to deploy or vastly upgrade your existing loyalty program.
·       One last thought, if you can get access to each customer’s purchasing habits i.e.; what did they buy from you, how often, what did they look at on your web site, what did they call in and complain to a service agent about, etc., study this info before you engage with them. The data will help you in your conversation with them and they will feel very special that you know about their specific account.
This is just a start in re-engaging with your inactive customers, but I hope it adds some insight into the importance of working at reengaging your customers. We are all aware that it costs more to gain a new customer than keep an existing one, so the benefits and payoff are well worth it.
If I can be of service to you or your company in collecting data, writing a script to begin the discussion of reengagement with your customers or if you need assistance developing or improving your loyalty programs or campaigns, please feel contact me.
Don’t just let your customers disappear – go get ‘em!
Good luck!

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