Why you should fall in love with your lapsed customers

The Holy Grail for any small business is sales by the barrel load on a shoestring marketing budget. But in your zeal to recruit new customers, you can overlook the most cost-effective marketing on a shoestring campaign of all – getting back in touch with your lapsed customers.

To inspire you that a lapsed customer can easily become a live one again, here’s a client case study.

Mike Yorke runs the Mike Yorke Golf Academy. After reading my latest book he approached me asking for help in growing his customer base and that of the 8 coaches working under his brand. I suggested we look at the lapsed customer base of each coach and make these our first targets.

We asked each coach to earmark a two-three hour session to call their lapsed customers to update them with the coaching services on offer that they might be interested in and, to find out how they were progressing with their golf. The coach was then to follow up with a friendly email summarising the conversation.

The results were amazing.

One of the coaches emailed Mike the day after his calling session.

  • Of the 25 lapsed customers he had spoken to, 12 had booked another golf lesson; 6 paid immediately.
  • 7 were keen for Paul, the coach to stay in touch saying they would have more golf lessons in the future.
  • 6 said they had no plans to return to golf coaching.


So why do so many business owners focus their energies solely on attracting new customers in preference to reopening the pipeline to their lapsed ones?

It boils down to:

1. Fear of rejection. What if they tell me why they stopped using my services and I don’t like their answer?

2. It doesn’t occur to them that a lapsed customer can become a live one again with coaxing.


How can you get in touch with your lapsed customers?

  • Make a list of them.
  • What are the robust reasons why each one should come back to you? Have you made improvements to your products and services? Have you launched new products and services? It’s time to tell them!  Roll out the benefits they will enjoy upon returning to you.
  • You don’t have to make an offer to encourage a lapsed customer but it can help.  Use your judgement. If your service or product is one they have to continue using you can safely assume they’ve gone to a competitor so an offer could tip the scales in your favour.
  • Plan a campaign. Write a lovely letter with an introduction along the lines of: “Dear Dee, as it’s been a little while since we have been in touch, I wanted to update you on the new/improved products and services we’re offering that I am confident will be of genuine interest and benefit to you.” In one lapsed client letter, I began with the headline “We’ve missed you!”  Make sure the letter shouts out quality so use120 GSM paper; attach your business card and if you’ve a decent quality promotional gift that can go inside the envelope pop it in! Consider handwriting the envelope. Follow up with a telephone call and find out why they left you in the first place and what their present arrangements are. Follow up with an email summarising your conversation.

Simple, powerful and proven tips that should bring some of your lapsed customers back to your business.


What’s stopping you?

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