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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

What Can Former Customers Tell You?

It is surprising what past customers will tell you if you approach them in a nonthreatening way. Their feedback can help you reassess your offerings, your marketing programs, and other aspects of your business. Through your research, you may be able to regain customers and attract new customers.

Gain Insights from Former Customers

Reason for Departures. Do the former customers or clients have new needs that you did not know about? Could you address these new needs? Did they leave because your products or services no longer met their needs? Did they leave because of poor customer service, delayed deliveries, or rude or inexperienced staff?

Competition. Have your former customers signed up with your competitors, and if so, why? Can you turn the tables by upgrading your offerings? Should you change your prices, or do you need to show that you provide better products and/or better service—in other words more value?

Emerging Trends. Are the departures the result of new trends? Does it make sense to address the new trends? The clothing industry eventually added athleisure to their inventory when they realized that athleisure had replaced traditional suits during the pandemic. How can you find out about new trends sooner?

New Technology. As digital technology proliferated, some companies were quick to present their offerings online, implementing online payments. Grocery stores turned to online ordering and at-home delivery during the pandemic. When streamlined mortgage applications became available online, more conventional mortgage services also streamlined the mortgage application process. Ask customers past and present how new technology is changing how they operate. However, while migrating to new technology, continue to serve more conservative customers. Most banks offer online banking while still providing in-person services, as well.

Fixes. If you identify problems, how can you remedy them? A rude lawyer caused a major retailer to seek a new software provider. Neighbors fired their landscaper because the landscaper damaged the lawn when mowing. In both cases the customers could have been re-won if the companies had identified the problems sooner and promised fixes.

To ignore former customers is to waste a golden opportunity. Reaching out to them shows that you care about them. From former customers you can learn about changes in customer needs, changes in the marketplace, changes in technology, and changes in business practices from departing customers. Your research may also uncover new business opportunities and untapped market segments. In addition, by refreshing the relationship, you may regain a customer, and the former customer may recommend you to other companies. Your research may also reveal issues to discuss with current and prospective customers or clients.


Actionable Business Insights

Copyright ©2/23 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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