It can be a tough task to build trust and develop credibility with prospects and customers. And it’s even tougher when trying to rebuild trust after you have lost it.
When this happens, the impact on even your strongest and longest business relationships can be easily damaged.
Running a company is a hard job. It requires cleverness and the trust of people who buy from you and work with you- your customers. Unless customers can trust you and like you, it’s highly unlikely that they would continue to do business with you. Getting customers to buy from you isn’t a game of loosing and winning but rather one of strong relationships and trust. And the organizations that make it about winning and selling are very likely to go through “mental barriers” and could easily end up losing customer trust. While losing a customer trust takes less time and is very easy, regaining it may not be that easy and could take much time.
It would be very wise for organizations to keep a lack of transparency and dishonesty away from their organization. The reality is that distrust exacts arduous and a very heavy price that is usually very hard for organizations to overcome.
A lack of trust in customers has several backlashes;
- Lack of trust breaks down communication and keeps focus on fault picking and trivial matters.
- When customers lack trust in an organization, the relationship is usually distracted to a point where both organizations and customers lost sight of what is truly important and become focused on ‘covering their backs’.
- Distrust reduces the value, and organizations are willing to provide to ‘nagging’ customers, which during a short time period worsens the relationship. The organizations lose the will to be competitive with a particular customer.
- Distrust causes the customers to be in constant disagreement with the organization, viewing them as a foe instead of an ally and partner.
- A lack of trust will make customers focus on the shortcomings of the organization leading to disharmony and indecision causes a serious dent in the relationship.
- Not being able to trust an organization is simply a cause for provoking anxiety and putting a dampener on the relationship. It would be better to stop doing business than indulging in one that is so encumbering and draining.
Unfortunately, the trust between an organization and a customer can, and occasionally does break. A single miscommunication or mistake can turn a customer away from your organization. But, losing a customer’s trust shouldn’t be viewed as the end of the road.
If you’ve lost a customer’s trust and even their business, and want to get it back, keep reading this blog post. This blog post breaks down key steps to regain trust and create an even stronger relationship with your customers and win their business. Let’s get started!
Why do customers lose trust?
Despite good intentions and hard work, it’s quite easy to lose a customer’s trust and business. This can happen for several reasons.
Let’s have a look at the following examples;
- The customer received unsatisfactory service: Poor communication can easily and very quickly ruin a customer’s experience. If the customers don’t receive timely answers to their questions or speak with an unprepared or rude sales representative, they won’t view your organization as one that values its customers.
- Your product/service didn’t meet expectations: After using your product/service, the customer realized that it didn’t meet their needs or expectations. This can make the customer doubt the quality of your products/services and even make them believe you purposely misled them throughout the entire sales process.
- You overpromised: The product/service was what they expected, but they didn’t receive the exact results you promised during your sales pitch. The customer believes you oversold the product/service or were dishonest for the sake of convincing them to make a purchase.
Remember that customer satisfaction and customer trust are directly linked.
A 10% growth in an organization’s customer satisfaction results in a 12% growth in customer trust (source: GetFeedback).
Why customers leave:
Before one can truly understand how to win back customers and their trust, it’s critical to understand some of the common problems that initially make the customer lose trust and leave.
Some of the common reasons customers leave are the following:
- Dissatisfied with products and services
- Start working with the competition
- Move away
- Look for alternatives
- Unhappy with the treatment they received
In some cases, one or more competitor(s) can offer better customer experience or better pricing.
If a company delivers poor customer service, customers are highly likely to take their business somewhere else. Some of the most common customer service compliant include representatives repeating themselves, customers waiting too long to speak with a real person, or representatives not being able to answer a customer’s questions.
Try putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. How easy is it to have a question/complaint addressed and resolved? And if the process is complex, the customers may become unhappy and go with one of your competitors instead.
So, consider making some changes to your customer service strategy and make the process as such that you wouldn’t mind dealing with when working with a company.
How to Win Back a Customer’s Trust
Every customer is unique, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to winning their trust and their business. But, it’s very important to have an effective strategy in place to be used when things go wrong.
The following are some simple steps to repair the relationship with the customers after losing their trust and their business.
1. Determine the source of the problem
Before you can regain your customer’s trust, you need to understand why they lost their trust in your business in the first place. Only then you can implement effective initiatives to fix the problem.
Some customers are more direct; they voice their displeasure and inform you why they have lost trust in your organization. But, more often than not, customers just go with one of the competitors.
A study revealed that around 4% of customers that were “wronged” by a company complaint, while the rest 96% customers stop purchasing and tell their peers about the issue (source: cbsnews).
The following are some common ways to gather customer feedback in a constructive way:
Automated Satisfaction Survey
Develop a process to automatically launch a customer satisfaction survey to gather the information needed to fix the issue at hand. Based on your specific offerings, this survey could be in the form of an email when a customer cancels your products/services. Or, when a customer cancels your products/services online, include the survey as part of the cancellation process.
Customer Service Follow-up
Right after each service interaction, send out a feedback survey through any of your communication channels, to determine how satisfied each customer is with the help the received. It will help you to identify your customer service team’s weaknesses and strengths, and subsequently, help you to improve over time.
Sometimes a customer may not complain directly to you, instead, they usually take to review sites G2Crowd, Yelp, etc., to voice their complaints and concerns. This is why it is highly recommended to monitor review websites and note down the common and critical complaints. This will give you a better idea of what needs to be fixed and if you have the names of individual customers, you can reach them directly to resolve the problem.
Acknowledge inactive customers
Irrespective of what your company offers, try to regularly assess customer activity and engagement levels. For example, if your company sells software, try to interpret usage patterns. Does the customer activity usually low/slow a few months before the cancellation? These useful metrics can help you pin-point which customers are most likely to cancel. This way, you can prevent loss of trust before it happens and can keep them satisfied.
2. Own up to your mistakes.
Once you’ve identified the problem, whether it’s a unique scenario impacting only one customer or a general problem that affects a group of customers, you must always own up to your mistakes and take responsibility. The easiest way to lose a customer forever is to refuse to take the blame for an issue or to become defensive.
Apologizing for poor service may seem like an easy step, but it’s a necessary way to rebuild the relationship with unhappy customers.
A study reveals that when an apology is perceived as genuine, customer satisfaction grows by 10 – 15 % (source: myragolden).
3. Take Appropriate Actions to Fix the Problem
Remember that while an apology is a nice gesture, it has to be followed up with appropriate action. Now that you have identified the problem you lost the trust of customers and you’ve also apologized for the same, it’s time to keep this problem from happening again. It’s highly likely that the customer’s problems are indicative of flaws in your overall process. So, if you don’t take any appropriate action, other customers will encounter similar problems in the future.
Ensure to get feedback from your customers through this process. Find out if there is anything your organization can do to deliver improved customer experience. Then, give your customers a step-by-step breakdown of the changes you plan to implement, so they have tangible proof that your company takes concerns very seriously.
4. Offer an Additional Incentive
It’s not enough to fix the problem after you’ve lost a customer’s trust. You should deliver more than promised and offer a service that goes above and beyond what the customer expects. Don’t underestimate the power of an incentive or a gift, whether it’s a coupon, a discount, or a free sample, etc.
When you offer something for free to your customers, it shows that you go above and beyond to right your wrongs and appreciate your customers.
Coupons and discounts are top-ranking strategies to improve customer loyalty (source: AccessDevelopment).
Why Care About Lost Customers?
Many organizations will not pay much attention to lost customers and will instead choose to focus on attracting new customers. While it may make sense to a few people, it is actually the least effective way to grow business and increase sales. Many studies have been carried out to determine which types of customers are more likely to make a purchase. And what this study found is that companies have quite higher chances of selling to former customers than to people who have never done business with the organization. What it means is that focusing on lost customers is one of the most effective approaches to grow a business.
With traditional marketing, the majority of the people you reach won’t have any interest in or need your offerings. However, your previous customers do have a need for your offerings, or at least did at some point. Usually, they are pulled away by one of your competitors or stopped making purchases because of some issues they had encountered. And by using the customer win-back strategy, you can bring back more of those past customers to the fold and grow your business much faster than with traditional marketing efforts.
How to Win Back Lost Customers:
Why should you care about lost customers? We’ve already mentioned that retaining customers makes more sense than acquiring new customers. Additionally, loyal customers are considered the most profitable customers and referred customers give the highest return on marketing investments.
A telecom company tested four win-back offers on 40,000 customers and some of them worked better than others;
- Discount: $20 off for 6 months received a 45% success rate and 668% ROI
- Tailored: Customers who left because of price get discount, and those who left because of service get an upgrade received 45% success rate and 596% ROI
- Upgrade: $35 movie channel free for 3 months received a 41% success rate and 793% ROI
- Bundled: $20 off for 6 months, plus a $35 movie channel free for 3 months received a 47% success rate and 302% ROI
Trying to win-back every single lost customer could consume much of your money, time, and resources depending on the strategy you use. Instead, try winning only those customers whose behavior indicated an inclination towards return. These may include those customers who referred others, who didn’t complain, or who had complaints that were then resolved.
Additionally, those customers who left because of the price are more likely to come back than those customers who left due to bad customer service.
Following are the ways to win customers back:
- Determine why they left and what you can do to help: Even if some lost customers aren’t worth trying to get back, the information can be very helpful with other lost customers. So, ask questions to those lost customers to understand their frustrations.
- Adjust the offer: you could use information from those lost customers and then create favorable offers for other lost customers.
- Take responsibility: If your company sold faulty products or didn’t deliver adequate service, it’s very important to own up to your mistake(s) and work to make up for it. Your lost customers need to see that effort if you want to bring them back.
Now that we’ve discussed the steps to regain your customer’s trust and win back lost customers, let’s go through a hypothetical example to put it all together.
A customer has a question about a product that he recently bought. He/she fails to find relevant/helpful information on your website, and when he/she reaches out through social media, it takes several days to get a response.
As a result, he/she believes that your organization is just interested in acquiring new customers and doesn’t give priority to its existing customers. And then this customer takes this problem to review websites to voice their concerns.
After some time you come across this review and then reach out to the customer to talk about the poor customer service. First, you respond to the customer’s original question and also let him/her know that you are going to address this issue. So, you develop a strategic plan to develop content that is specific to your offerings more readily available on your official website. You also add a chat tool so that your customers can have the concerns/problems addresses in real-time. Finally, you offer the customer an extended free trial of another product you’re about to launch soon.
You make a concerted effort following this experience to monitor social engagement more closely.
There is no single solution to regain a customer’s trust. A well-defined strategy and a little empathy can go a long way. And of course, some customers unfortunately just won’t return. So, don’t give up on your customers after a small mistake or setback.
Mistakes are usually a blessing in disguise. As they show you which areas to improve and also help you better understand the needs and preferences of your customers.