How To Get Clients To Come Back: Get Your Old Clients Back

how to get clients to come back

While you can spend a lot of time and effort trying to attract new customers to your business, strengthening your connection with your existing customer base is even more important. This is because return customers are the lifeblood of your business - not only will they buy what you’re selling but they’ll tell others to do the same. You don’t want to take this business for granted but instead, you should be investing in nurturing it today.

There are many ways to grow your repeat customer base, including:

  • Define who your disengaged customers are
  • Keep in touch with them
  • Assume they won't remember you
  • Maintain a fresh and relevant experience 
  • Surprise them
  • Collaborate with non-profits in the community
  • Have the right people on the front-line
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you
  • Listen to your customers
  • Show your appreciation
  • Offer an alternative
  • Request feedback
  • Reward customer loyalty
  • Make it personal

client retention graphic art

Define Who Your Disengaged Customers Are

Before you’ll be able to determine how you’re going to get your customers to re-engage with your business you’ll need to know who’s disengaged in the first place. According to the Oxford Dictionary, someone who’s disengaged is someone who is no longer involved with your business. However, as a business owner, you need to take this one step further and take a look at what you consider customer “activity” and a timeline is also beneficial here. For some businesses, it may be enough that a customer opens your e-newsletter but for other businesses, it may require that they occasionally make a purchase.

You also need to look at the last time your customer did this and think about how frequently you’d like them to take this action. Once you’ve set a timeframe for what you consider an “active customer” you’ll be able to say that anyone who falls outside of the timeframe has become disengaged. For instance, if you think that an active customer should make a purchase from you once every three months and they haven’t bought anything in 6 months you can say that they’re disengaged.

By taking the time to figure out who’s become disengaged and placing them on a list you’ll be able to track your churn rate (how many customers are becoming disengaged and how often this is happening). It’ll also be easier for you to reach out to these customers once you’ve launched your re-engagement efforts.

seo marketing looking to accelerate2 400Stay in Touch

Once you’ve made a sale you should have some resources that are devoted to helping you continue to build the relationship with this customer. In other words, you don’t just want to make a sale and then move on to the next customer and their transaction. There are many things you can do to follow up with the customer you already have including actively engaging with them on social media, sending them a special incentive, and maintaining regular communication with them through a company newsletter. Just make sure that you don’t turn into a nuisance here. The best way to do this is to ensure that any time you communicate with your customer it’s meaningful and purpose-driven.

Assume They Won't Remember You

Even though you’ve done business with a customer once, this doesn’t mean that they’re going to automatically think of you the next time they need the services or products you offer. There are a million distractions that happen on a daily business and you’ll find that you’re competing with each of these distractions. It doesn’t matter if you have a retail business or a business-to-business company the competition remains the same. This is why it’s up to you to make sure that you take the time to reach out to let your contacts know that you look forward to doing business again with them in the future.

Maintain a Fresh and Relevant Experience

Your customers need you to give them a reason why they should shop with you again. This is why it’s so important for you to work on honing and improving the products and services that you have available to offer them. You can’t merely create these things though. You also need to communicate with your customers that you’ve done so or they won’t know that these new products or services exist.

Surprise Them

Whenever someone takes the time and makes the effort to do something that goes above and beyond our expectations we’re likely to feel both delighted and excited. We may even share this experience with other people. This is what you want each of your customers to feel so they’ll behave accordingly. Therefore you should surprise them by sending them a special gift showing that you’ve remembered important milestones like their birthday. Another great idea is to give your customers loyalty discounts as a way of rewarding them for doing business with you repeatedly.

Collaborate with Non-Profits

Doing things with the community is good for your business. Creating activities that allow your customers to collaborate with you on doing a good deed will also help them feel good about doing business with you.

business owner has friendly interaction with customer

Have the Right People on the Front-Line

Even if you have the world’s best products, if your customers are interacting with people who aren’t engaging or who are unpleasant for them to deal with they’ll still go to your competitor. This is why you don’t just want to make sure that you have qualified people on your front-line. You also want to make sure they’re always offering friendly, efficient, personalized service.

Make it Easy for Customers to Contact You

When your customers call your business you don’t want them to have to go through a lot of menu options before they’re able to get a person on the line. You want to make sure that your customers can quickly and easily reach a friendly, highly-qualified person. Of course, the phone isn’t the only means by which your customers will reach out to you today. This is why you need to take time to also respond to social media comments and emails promptly.

Listen to Your Customers

You want to let your customers know that you want to hear from them. This starts with being proactive by asking them what they think of your business. You can do this in the form of a survey regarding a product they bought or a service they received. When you get the survey back make sure you pay attention to their feedback.

Show Your Appreciation

Take some time to show your customers your gratitude. This can be as simple as a heartfelt “thank you” when they do business with you. You can also take this a step further by sending them a thank you note or a special reward when they’ve referred business to you. It takes time to build strong relationships but the payoff will be worthwhile.

Offer an Alternative

You can probably safely assume that when a customer goes silent you haven’t hit the mark with what you’re offering them. This is when you should try to offer them an alternative. You’ll need to be strategic though since you won’t endear your business to them with yet another off-base offer. Take some time to consider what alternative you could offer them that might better meet their needs.

seo marketing need a boost3

When an email subscriber is no longer interacting with your emails, you should offer them a way of getting your valuable content in a more limited way. This could be through a more streamlined email schedule (e.g. digest format), a blog subscription, or by following you on social media instead.

Regardless of how hard you try, you won’t be able to hit the mark with everyone. Nevertheless, if you take some time to try to figure out why your customers are losing interest, likely you’ll be successful in doing so.

Request Feedback

There’s one valuable question every business should ask itself when a customer stops doing business with them: “Why?” Finding your customer’s answer to this question will help guide you towards a better relationship with your customers in the future - something that’ll also help you strengthen your business overall. This isn’t the only way in which your business will benefit from asking this question though. Some of the other ways in which your business will be able to benefit include:

  • Your customers can see that you care about what went wrong and want to do better in the future.
  • You’ll have information from your customers that’ll help you make better decisions.
  • When your customers see that you can and you’re willing to learn they’ll want to build a stronger relationship with you. This means they’ll want to do business with you again in the future.

When you’re ready to ask your customers this question, there are some things you should keep in mind so that they’re willing to answer your question and your business comes across tactfully. These tips include:

  • Send your customers a direct link to a survey in which you clearly ask them to fill out some information. Make it short and easy for them to do so.
  • Provide your participants with an open field so that they can offer you feedback that isn’t covered elsewhere.
  • Offer your customers an incentive (e.g. a coupon or reward) for taking the time to fill out the survey. This will increase the likelihood you’ll get the survey back because your customers will feel good about taking the time to fill it out.

business owner shakes customers hand

Reward Customer Loyalty

By working to revive a relationship with a customer who’s moved on you’re showing them that you appreciate and value their loyalty. This is why the customer loyalty program is so advantageous. With this program, you’re able to engage with a customer once they’ve moved on by giving them another reason to engage with your brand. Here you’re giving them a new way in which they can benefit by doing so.

Taking some time to reward your customers for doing business with you will also increase the number of things you’re able to offer your customers. While you’re already working hard to provide them with a great product or service, when you offer them a loyalty reward benefit they’re able to do business with you in another way.

It’s up to you how simple or complex you want this program to be which is why they can work for almost any business out there. One of the simplest things you can offer your customers is a punch card (e.g. on your tenth punch you get a free product). Something that’s a bit more complex that you can do is consistently offer loyalty discounts to frequent shoppers. You can also offer a point system that’s eventually rewarded by a discount, freebies, exclusive content, and special offers.

There are a lot of different ways in which you can execute a customer loyalty program today. The only restriction is that it should complement your business model and provide your customers with some real value.

Make it Personal

To build a long-lasting relationship with your customers you need to get personal. Studies have proven that customers are more likely to invest in businesses that invest in them. There are several ways in which you can go about doing this including:

  • Use your customer’s name anytime you communicate with them (e.g. email, text, social media).
  • Send your customer a free gift or a discount when you wish them a happy birthday.
  • When interacting with your customers in person make sure you ask thoughtful questions and show that you’re actually interested in their life (e.g. ask about their family’s well-being).

By taking the time to show a sincere, personal interest in a client who hasn’t bought anything from your business in a while will serve as a positive motivating force to bring them back.

satisfied customer as business strategy quote


Now that you’ve found some ways in which to develop a stronger connection with your existing customer base you should definitely invest in doing so. By making this investment you’re investing in your business’ lifeblood - people who won’t only make purchases from you but who’ll also tell others to do the same thing. So take some time to invest in nurturing this customer base today.



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Shawn Manaher
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of Ignite Marketing. He's one part local business growth specialist, one part campaign strategizing ninja, and two parts leader of an awesome nerd pack. He won't eat pancakes unless you call them flat waffles.
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