If You Love a Customer, Let Them Go (With a Great Experience)

When you have a customer, you do everything in your power to treat them right. You provide service. You make good if something goes bad with your product. You do whatever it takes to keep them satisfied and, in turn, a customer. It’s all part of the all-important ongoing customer experience — making someone feel special and appreciated long after the purchase has been made.

But then that day comes along that you dread — the day when a customer decides to move on. You feel bad. You wish you could change their mind. But like a child that is off to college, you have to let them go. You have no choice. It’s the natural order of things. While there’s that deep-seated hope that all customers will remain loyal for life, it’s just not possible. They see something new and shiny and they just can’t resist.

Equally hard to resist is the temptation for you to try and prevent them from leaving. Don’t go there. It won’t work. And if you do, it won’t end well. Don’t believe it? Listen to the exchange between a customer wanting to leave Comcast and the deranged customer service rep that circulated online last summer.

A much kinder and gentler way to handle a departing customer is to follow the example of ancestry.com. They’re sorry to see you go and prove it by giving you continued access to the site as a registered guest. And if you’ve created a Member Family Tree, it remains on the site after your subscription has run out. What’s more, they allow you to edit it or add to it.

Okay, now that you’ve seen examples of positive and negative ways to treat customers who seek greener pastures, there’s another very important point to consider. And that is — just because a customer goes away, it doesn’t mean the customer experience goes away with it. What’s more, it doesn’t mean you can’t win them back. There are many ways you can communicate with them in an attempt to stoke the embers of fond memories when they were using your product or service.

Sending emails or placing ads on Facebook to entice ex-customers to return to your site are certainly viable ways to go. But according to an article by Julie Knudson on smallbusinesscomputing.com, you can go a heck of a lot deeper to reach out to lapsed customers. These include:

  • Offering discounts to tempt them to buy again
  • Creating communications to address reasons why they left
  • Advertising products your competitors don’t have

There’s also the silver lining theory proposed by Scott Flood in an article on SiteProNews.com: “Paying attention to ex-customers can help you hold on to current ones, too.” He says this can easily be accomplished by asking them directly why they went somewhere else and then using the data to make improvements.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s no guarantee that after providing a positive experience to ex-customers that said ex-customers will have a change of heart. But one thing’s for certain — if you treat them like the customer service rep from Comcast did, you can be 100% positive that you won’t be hearing from them again. Ever.