What do you do when a customer threatens to leave your product or service? Some companies don’t respond at all, while others reply with an exit survey. But for early-stage companies, trying to win them back—and learn from their feedback—is often a better strategy.
To learn what works best, we asked 10 founders the following:
What is one creative way that you can show value to (and possibly win back) customers who are threatening to leave your service or company for another?
1. Create a Written Response Plan
I like to create a written plan of attack for addressing customer concerns. First, this is a conversation that should be done over the phone. As we talk, I write out an email with specific action steps and, most importantly, due dates. That way the customer can see the specific steps for addressing their concerns. I tell them frankly that if we miss dates or deliverables, we’ll offer a full refund.
– John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation
Look at the situation honestly and assess whether the customer has a valid point. If she does, apologize without any excuses. Make the subject of your email or the first line of your phone call: “We screwed up.” Companies are rarely this transparent and candid and you are more likely to win their loyalty this way than if things were going perfectly.
– Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
When clients want to leave, we often win them back right away by letting them in on the product roadmap and the related timeline. This glimpse into the future gives them a.) a feeling importance due to the asymmetrical information, and b.) a clear path by which they can determine if our product will become a better fit for them over time. Upwards of 80 percent of the time, this is enough.
– Brennan White, Watchtower
4. Show Empathy, Not Desperation
We show the user a little empathy towards their threat. Doing so actually reinforces the confidence we have in our product which in turn causes the customer to begin questioning their decision to leave. There is a reverse psychology effect at play that often works better than coming across as desperately trying to save them.
– Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY
5. Offer Help Outside Your Platform
Your customers are facing many problems that are outside the scope of your product or platform. That doesn’t make these problems any less important, though. At Inside Social, we’ve found success bringing our customers research and suggestions for other aspects of their digital marketing (unrelated to our product). Doing so helps us demonstrate value and credibility while building trust.
– Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social
6. Appreciate Them Before They Leave
If a customer is threatening to leave or has left you, it may be too late. I learned this early and still continue to learn this lesson daily in business. As we strive to win and gain new business and new customers, we tend to forget to appreciate, communicate with, and stay in front of our current customers. To stay ahead of this situation, go our of your way to appreciate your clients daily.
– Matt Shoup, MattShoup.com
A good date is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Apply that to your customers to show that they have your full attention. Create great conversation by actively listening, asking questions, and responding thoughtfully. Understand that it takes many dates to form a relationship, and build your customer-focused strategies accordingly.
– Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting
Particularly for tech, there’s hesitation to insert humans into the retention process. Even though most of the value might be coming from the technology, it’s still economically sound for most businesses to have account managers or customer success reps whose job is to put a human face to the brand and product. Then, if there is a problem, the customer already has a relationship with the company.
– Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
9. Pick Up the Phone—and Act Fast
Pick up the phone and call them to find out exactly what wasn’t working. If their issue could be answered by a soon-to-be-released feature, we offer a deep discount until that feature is released. Sometimes we even fast-track the development of it to delight that customer. If customers churn because usage has fallen off, we can do a little coaching and create a plan to re-engage the end users.
– David Hassell, 15Five
Always market your strengths over your competitors at all times. Make it part of your re-marketing ads, hold music, email marketing and sales pitches. It will help keep customers loyal to your brand and make it a whole lot easier to resolve problems when they do arise.
– Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals