"I won't complain. I just won't come back." — Brown & Williamson Tobacco Ad
Today's consumers are smart. Not only will they desert a brand, but they will also voice their grievances to friends, relatives and acquaintances, costing more patrons than a brand will ever know. Whether it's due to failed customer service or simply a case of "normal is boring," when customers leave a brand, it is worth every penny to try and win them back. Here are five strategies for doing just that:
1. Do a Reality Check: Have They Really Deserted?
Before embarking on a strategy to entice customers back, stop and ask: Have they really said goodbye? Or are they simply lying dormant in between purchases? Loyal customers in a "no-shopping" phase require very different reactivation strategies, while win-back campaigns should reach only customers who have truly abandoned the brand.
A robust CRM process that studies customer purchase histories can help to distinguish between dormant customers and brand walkouts.
2. Get Up-Close and Personal
Bulk email or text campaigns will be wasted on brand walkouts. They leave for a reason and winning their hearts (and wallets) back requires extra effort in creating opportunities that are both personalized and highly relevant to individual—often opinionated—shoppers. Good strategies include custom product recommendations or exclusive new product previews based on prior purchase choices and indicated preferences.
Leverage geographic, demographic and historic purchase behavioral data to provide lost customers with relevant and timely information on new product launches, discount offers and seasonal sales.
3. Look Beyond Cookie-Cutter Marketing
Consumers do not come shop for products alone. It is the total shopping experience coupled with love for your brand that makes or breaks sales. More importantly, customers' moods change with each passing day and shopping trip. Reach out with innovative multichannel communications and programs that will get you noticed. Whether you send email, texts or snail mail; tag customers in posts on Facebook or have call center associates contact them personally—the goal is to stay on customers' radar screens without driving them crazy.
View customers as explorers on exhilarating shopping sprees. Show new facets of your brand with each interaction. Who does not love old wine in a new bottle?
4. Loyalty Fetches Royalty
Loyalty management is not just about persuading customers to sign up for programs with tangible benefits. Rather, it's about getting into their shoes, walking with them and making their shopping journeys pleasurable. Engage proactively with loyal customers, help them to climb the loyalty ladder and obtain increasingly beneficial rewards and bring them closer to the brand by focusing on their personal choices and preferences. Use customer intelligence data to derive pertinent insights and empower store associates to provide superior and enriched shopping experiences.
Deeper brand-to-customer engagement engenders heightened loyalty, leading eventually to brand royalty.
5. Social Is the New Stratagem
Love social media or hate it; just don't ignore it. Customers are present on social media at all times, lavishing praise, voicing concerns, and crucifying products and services if they feel disappointed or mistreated. Social media has become the new haven for brand- and feedback-conscious consumers. By listening in on digital conversations about a brand—bouquets and brickbats alike—one can devise powerful marketing programs that pleasantly surprise and engage loyal customers, inspiring referrals and recommendations to the brand's advantage.
Retail men's label JackThreads.com has over 2.5 million loyalty program members and acquired one-fifth of them solely through Facebook ads. Leading apparel and furnishings retailer jcpenney offered an open apology via social media to win back lost customers. The company, which lost one third of its regular clientele after implementing a no-discount sales policy, posted a video on Facebook with the catchy slogan, "Come back to jcpenney. We heard you. Now, we'd love to see you." By proactively responding to human emotions, the company engaged a large section of its target customers simply by running polls, short videos, quick messages and engaging in healthy conversations via social media.
The best way to make customers pay attention is to follow and interact with them on channels where they are relaxed and comfortable. Be consciously present on social media, listen intently and act smartly.
Customers will always be choosy, not only about products but about their overall shopping experiences. If, for whatever reason, customers have switched to another brand, there is always potential to lure them back using intelligent analytics and engagement.