The 21st century has brought about big strides in the psychology of customer service. We can thank millennials for helping us “find our truth” and learn relationships between customers and businesses are just as personal as any other serious relationship.
With today’s competitive environment, a business that sincerely wants to win a customer back can take cues from the steps needed to reconcile the most intimate of relationships.
6 ways to win back a customer like winning back a lover
1. Know why things ended
Some businesses have an easier time than others at capturing data about why a customer left. Sincere exit interviews are critically important when possible, and in most cases, our ex-customers (and our ex-lovers) are eager to share why they moved on. Was the cost too high? Were there better alternatives? Did we ignore their needs to pursue our own agenda? Did we not understand what they were trying to tell us? Were we rude and unsympathetic?
2. Sincerely apologize for what we did wrong
When we are hurt, it is hard to apologize for our part in the breakup…in intimate or business relationships. Once we clearly know where we failed, we need to find a way to be humble and sincere and acknowledge our part of the breakdown to the person we’ve hurt. A simple and personal email or letter to the customer validates their complaints and plants the seed that we care, which is all we want to do with the apology. And with this apology, we don’t ask for them to come back.
3. Get in shape
What does that look like for you? Do you need to change your call center strategy, give your product or service a face lift, or reduce your costs so you can offer a lower price? You may simply need to adopt a company culture of compassion and service. You had something special that won the customer the first time. Try to recapture the romance and show them that you still have what it takes, but now –after taking some articulated steps -you can meet their needs even better.
4. Don’t be annoying
Most of us have learned that if we call or text or message too often, our ex will run even faster in the opposite direction. We need to communicate to find out what we did wrong…once. If they tell us, we have something to work with. And we need to apologize…once.
Then, after seriously improving, we can communicate what we’ve done to change. But that it is. Like our ex-lovers, the more we chase, the faster our customers will run.
5. Give them easy access and more control
Find ways to give ex-customers an easy, unobstructed path to reconciliation. We already have their account information, their billing info, their logins/passwords, and the specifications of what they want. If we know where we messed up, have improved our offerings and are still easily accessible, more often than not, our exes will find it is easier to stay with us than start over with someone new.
Gently offer them incentives…real incentives… to return. Take a hit. We all know what the lifetime value of reconciliation is worth to our company, so we should make our incentives show we truly and deeply care.
6. Know when to move on
Like our ex-lovers, there are some customers we either cannot win back or we are better off without. Inevitably there are a few exes that drain our energy and keep us from moving forward. They prevent us from being the best we can be, and we need to be able to let them go without it hurting our egos or consuming our thoughts or resources. It is important that we conserve our energy and talents for those who we can serve effectively.
Relationships are hard, whether they are with an ex-lover or an ex-customer. Reconciliation requires self-awareness, hard work and humility. In business, it is critical that we have something special to offer our customers, but we need to listen to them, improve our services and empower them to choose us. In this generation more than any before, the choice is theirs.
By Amy Hinote
Amy Hinote is the founder and editor of VRM Intel which provides news and education for the rapidly expanding vacation rental industry. With a background in finance and marketing and over 10 years im hospitality, Hinote has worked with accommodations and tourism companies, suppliers, and intermediaries and provides insider information about the growing vacation rental industry. Hinote resides just north of Chicago in Evanston, IL.