How to Lose a Customer So They Return

Text of my newsletter from 25th April.

If you prefer to listen:

Last week I told you that I’ve lost 40% of my customers over the past 3 years. They left Hong Kong, but it’s still tough to lose them.

I’ve also lost customers who are still here, and that’s a lot harder.

Losing a customer is personal for a small, solo or home business. There’s a personal connection that doesn’t happen between companies like Amazon or Netflix and their customers.

Losing a customer hurts.

Here’s what happened when I lost a customer some time ago:

Getting the ‘Dear John’ email from them was a shock. It knocked my confidence and I went through a range of emotions: feelings of being deserted, anger and self-justification.

But reality sunk in, and I started the process of closing out their account.

I knew, of course, that any business will lose customers at some point.

I had long ago decided that, when it happened to me, I would react in the most gracious way possible, and be 100% professional through the process of closing out their account.

But it’s easy to say that when you’re making plans. It’s a lot tougher when it actually happens.

Never-the-less, the fact that I had considered it, and how to deal with it, enabled me to click into gear and sort things out.

And, once everything was finalised, I wasn’t happy that they had left, but I felt good about the way I had handled it.

Nearly 2 years later, I received an email from that very same customer.

The company now had a subsidiary, which had a website that was in a bit of a state – could I help?

Yes, of course!

Resuming the business relationship was easy: we knew how we each worked, so ‘onboarding’ was simple.

Better still, the way the previous relationship ended had left us with a level of trust and respect that takes time to build with new customers.

Losing a customer hurts, and in the early stages of growing my business it wasn’t something I gave much thought to.

But it will happen, and here’s how I recommend you deal with it:

  1. Make a plan before it happens
  2. Accept that when the customer tells you they’re leaving you’re going to be upset. Give yourself time to deal with the emotion before reacting
  3. Stick to your plan as you go through the separation process
  4. Act professionally and graciously at all times

I’m not suggesting that every departing customer will return in two years, but the chances that they might are higher if you deal with the separation graciously and professionally.

This week’s links

The first article this week sets out 6 steps that will help you to bounce back when you lose a customer.

I’ve also linked to 13 content promotion tactics, how to build quality into your content and a 7-step marketing system.

6 ways to bounce back when you lose a customer

Mike Michalowicz sets out 6 steps that will help you to bounce back when you lose a customer:

6 ways to bounce back when you lose a client

13 content promotion tactics

I’ve often talked about the importance of content distribution, or promotion.

It’s better to produce less content, but of high quality, and promote the heck out of it, than it is to produce tons and tons of average content.

It’s also easier.

Here are 13 ways to promote your content:

13 content promotion tactics

4 business problems solved by content marketing

I said above that producing quality content is the way to go.

Creating content that exudes empathy helps to build quality, and create connection.

Joshua Nite gives 4 ways to do that:

4 business problems solved by content marketing

7-step marketing system

As with many things, marketing works better when you have a system, because that makes it consistent and repeatable.

John Jantsch describes his 7-step marketing system:

7-step marketing system


Just so you know: this email may contain affiliate links. If you click one of them, and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission as a ‘thank you’ from the product or service provider. I only link to products or services that I use, or have used, and am proud to be associated with. There is no additional cost to you.

Cool (and smart) people and businesses to follow

Smart, current and insightful tips from:

Andrew Davison

Joe Calloway

Useful resources

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Fun flashback

Pink Floyd released their first song in 30 years recently (in support of Ukraine), and reminded me of their superb ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album.

Here, from that album, is ‘Us and Them’:

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Martin Malden

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