Solving The Mystery Of The Disappearing Customer (And How To Bring Them Back)

Disappearing Customer? Where Did He or She Go?

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes when it comes to working out the ‘Mystery of the Disappearing Customer.’ This isn’t a case for Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, or any other detective found in the works of Agatha Christie. There’s no point ringing the police, telling them that:

I used to have customers, but now they have disappeared. I suspect they may have been abducted by aliens.”

disappearing customer

 

If your once valued customers haven’t made an appearance recently, there probably isn’t a great mystery at all. The reason might be a very simple one. So, while they may have been abducted by aliens, the answer is probably a lot more straightforward. And as Holmes himself would usually utter, quite elementary.

You see, they probably haven’t disappeared at all. They still exist, but for whatever reason, they have decided to leave you.

Here Are the Reasons Why Your Customer May Have Disappeared

Reason #1: Yours Isn’t the Only Business on the Block

Unless your business is completely unique, you need to remember your competition. Yours isn’t the only business on the high street or operating online. Your customers are fickle people, and if they can find a better deal elsewhere, then they will probably leave your business in the dust and move on. It sucks, but that’s a reality.

Tip: To bring your customers back, you need to research your nearest competitors, Find out what they might be offering customers, and do your best to improve your business. Set up a Google alert on them to make this easy!

So, you might drop your prices, for example, or you might want to work on creating an enhanced product or service. You should then get the word out to past and current customers through email and social media to let them know the changes that have been made.

You should then get the word out to past and current customers through email and social media to let them know the changes that have been made. #customerservice Click To Tweet

Reason #2: Your Customer Service is Terrible

As a business owner, you need to value your customers. If they feel ignored or disrespected, then they aren’t going to stick around for long. As a business owner, you need to focus on awesome customer service. You expect it when you use the services of another business.

If you are kept waiting on the phone for an age, or if you are treated with brusque responses, you are unlikely to have a high opinion of the business in question. The same is true for your customers. Treat them badly, and they will disappear faster than you can say “I’m too busy to speak to you.”

Tip: Treat people how you would want to be treated. Whenever you speak to a customer, treat them with patience and respect. Respond to queries and complaints quickly and appropriately. But if you know your customer service has been lax, start to turn things around now.

And if you know you have upset past customers in any way, do the honorable thing and apologize to them. This will go some way towards countering the next point in this article.

As a business owner, you need to value your customers. If they feel ignored or disrespected, then they aren't going to stick around for long. #customerservice Click To Tweet

Reason #3: Your Reputation Isn’t Great

Possibly as a result of poor customer service, your reputation as a business may have nosedived. Should your business operate unethically in any way, the same is also true. Consider such companies as Nestle, as an example, who are the subject of endless boycotts. If your business has done anything to sway public opinion against you, then you are going to see the consequences.

your reputation

Your customers will complain about you on social media and review sites. The media might print bad things about you. And when people hear negative words about you, be they past, current, or potential customers, they will probably steer clear and take their business elsewhere.

Tip: It’s difficult to come back from a bad reputation, but it’s not impossible. You need to do all you can to fix any issues, and this includes making the necessary changes to your business, apologizing to customers directly, be that on the phone or in a response to a bad review, and doing something to attract positive attention from the press.  

People are slow to forget businesses who have garnered a bad reputation, but they might be willing to forgive if you can show them you have learned from your mistakes.

Reason #4: You Aren’t Remarketing

As a business owner, you should understand the importance of marketing to attract new customers, but you should also have a remarketing strategy in place. This is your way to remind past customers that you still exist and to encourage them to come back to you.

Otherwise, your previous customers might move on to other business when they require a certain product or service, and absent-minded as some people are, they might also forget that you exist.

Tip: You need to get back in touch with previous customers through email or on social media with a reminder. Offer incentives, such as special offers and VIP rewards. Or, let them know about new stock or services that your business has to offer.

You might also send out customer satisfaction surveys, as not only will your email remind your customers that you are still around, but you might also receive feedback through the surveys explaining why your past customers haven’t used your service.

Be mindful, however. While remarketing is useful, you need to be mindful of the next point.

This is your way to remind past customers that you still exist and to encourage them to come back to you. #remarketing Click To Tweet

Reason #5: You Are Spamming Your Customers

You want your past customers to return to you, but you don’t want to appear too desperate. Constantly spamming them with emails or social media messages to win back their custom might be counterproductive.

don't spam your customers

You might frustrate them, and this could cause them to block you or relegate your emails to their trash bins. The same applies to your current customers; an email a week is reasonable, but one a day is going a little too far.

Tip: As we suggested, limit the number of emails you send. And when you do send them, ensure you have something valid to say, such as news of an offer or improvements to your business. If you fail to get many responses, you might want to use email tracking software like Copper, as this way, you will be able to see if the emails you are sending are actually being opened.

It might be that the email addresses you are sending to are no longer in use. Or maybe your past customers no longer have any interest in you. While you could try to resend your emails with more enticing subject headers, you might also (eventually) stop wasting time contacting people who can’t or don’t want to be bothered by you.

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Final Thoughts

Chances are, if some of your customers have disappeared, then the clue as to why is somewhere within the reasons above. In each case, the onus is on you to make changes to your business to bring your customers back. However…

There May Be Reasons Beyond YOUR Control

If a customer has died, for example, then short of a miracle, there is no way you are going to bring them back. If any of your customers have altered their lifestyles, then your business might now be irrelevant to them.

Alternatively, your old customers may have actually been abducted by aliens. In which case, short of contacting NASA or the authorities to beam them back down to earth, your only option is to wish upon a star and hope they one day return to you!

So, as a Business Owner, You Need to Focus on Two Things:

Firstly, if you can work out why your customers have disappeared, and there is still a chance to win them back to you. Then do what needs to be done. A few changes to your business, alongside a few reminders, that they, you do still exist, might bring your old customers back.

Learn from any mistakes you have made in the past. Then work harder to keep hold of your customers going forward.

Secondly, know when it’s time to give up the hunt. If you have tried to find and win back your past customers, but have little success within your efforts, move on. As there are plenty more fish in the sea, there are also plenty more customers out there.

Work on your marketing! Ensure your business is attractive to others and find ways to keep the new customers you acquire.

A few changes to your business, alongside a few reminders, that they, you do still exist, might bring your old customers back. #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Have you experienced disappearing customers? What are YOU doing now to get them back?

I’d love to know more in the comments below.

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Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Social Media, Blogging, and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others? She has 30+ years of experience in marketing/advertising with 9 years of experience in content marketing, social media, blogging, and SEO. Check out her latest eBook "How to Tweet and Thrive on Twitter" now on Amazon.

  • The introduction brings us to the past and in the future, where aliens are the suspect for disappearing customers. Cool! Fun reading Lisa!

    • Hi Paul, welcome to Inspire To Thrive. I’m glad you enjoyed that one. Have you had any disappearing customers to go and find again? Thanks for coming by and have a great day!

  • Hi Lisa

    We spend so much effort GETTING customers, clients, email subscribers, readers…

    But we’re not the only fish in the sea, for sure, as you point out.

    As soon as we lose interest in our audience, they lose interest in us.

    You’ve given some really great ideas for not letting that happen… so I’m passing this on to my students for sure.

    Thanks 🙂

    -Donna

  • Hi Lisa,

    I really liked how you started this blog post. That’s what I call a perfect intro.

    Though the rest of the blog is glamorous too.

    All points that you mentioned on the blog are true. However, I do think that they may vary from type of business and even from the niche.

    For example, the first reason can apply a lot to sites that vary from an organic search. New sites can pop anytime and steal your organic traffic. Or you can be hit by a penalty from Google that can tank your sales.

    I really believe that any online business, especially e-com ones should have a proper retargeting. I am a big purchaser from Amazon and I see that a product that I didn’t purchase, follows me for the rest of the month. Just like a ghost.

    As you said at the end if you have tried very hard to win your customers back but they aren’t coming. You should try other sources as there is plenty of fish on the say (quoting you).

    Thanks for bringing up posts like this on a regular basis.

    Kindest Regards,

    Melos

    • Hi Melos, Thank you. Oh yes, each business is unique and there are certainly some variations. I always say “it’s not good to have all your eggs in one basket” best to spread a few out and always have other options ready! Thanks for coming by and welcome to Inspire To Thrive Melos. Have a nice day 🙂

  • Hi Lisa!

    Today there are just so many options for consumers, keeping their attention (and not squandering it when you have it) is more important than ever.

    Trust is slow to build and quick to lose, which is why it’s so important to always have your customer’s best interests at heart. Even if you never get a return for that. As you have said, a lot harder to bring in new customers than to retain what you already have.

    Unfortunately so many marketers are motivated too heavily by their own self-interests and it ends up pushing people away. My baby product brand’s primary strategy isn’t necessarily to make direct sales right away, but stay at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes time to finally buy.

    They’re happy because we provide tons of value upfront, we’re happy because of all the benefits a strong brand brings.

    It’s a win-win.

    – James McAllister

    • Hi James, nice to see you back here 🙂 Oh yes it is hard to make decisions with all of those choices today! I’m glad you say trust is slow to build, it cannot be done quickly! Too many businesses think they can do it quick but they really cannot. Excellent point.
      I like that – providing value upfront, makes a lot of sense James. Thanks for coming by and for your input. Happy Tuesday 🙂

  • Hi Lisa,

    Yes, terrible customer service might be a reason for customer disappearance as well as other reasons you mentioned in this article. I also want to note that retarget which works in similar ways like remarketing might also be a reason. Retargeting allows you to send accurate personalized ads campaign to users on other websites who left your site without completing your desired call-to-action.
    When you visit a website, your browser drops cookies on the site. And since visitors already showed interest on particular content, retargeting uses those cookies to track past visitors on other sites and present them with ads that already interest them and encourage them to return to your site and complete your desired action-to convert.

    • Hi Moss, for sure! Poor customer service would surely drive customers away today. I must do more re-targeting here Moss. Thanks for that reminder as well. It does work well when done. I appreciate your input here and have a great rest of the day!

  • Hi Lisa,

    Disappearing customers is one of the most common yet a big issue in front of all the businesses. You have outlined all the major points that cause customer fall out in love with a business.

    Branding plays an important role and no one like spamming.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Gaurav, It really is – who wants to have customers that disappear right? Thank you. How do you brand now? Thanks for coming by and have a great day!

  • Spamming is a huge problem Lisa. Many businesses build their entire strategy around grabbing a customer and spamming the heck out of them. Quite insane. I have purchased neat stuff online then get slammed with endless business emails, pushing stuff on me. I junk em and never recommend that company to anyone.

    • Hi Ryan, oh yes, I wonder why they think it is perfectly fine to spam people? Not only with emails but in comments on the web too. Some are truly ridiculious. You just have to laugh sometimes about it : ) Thanks for coming by on this one Ryan and enjoy your day!

  • ? It could be a case of one’s website loading slowly (Most people are unwilling to wait 3 minutes and longer for a website to load).

    And, I love your insight as to the reason why some people’s customers are disappearing.

    • Hi Renard, excellent point for an online business. I would say people would even less than that today – especially the younger audience/customers. Thank you and I appreciate your feedback on this one. Enjoy your weekend Renard 🙂

    • Great point. With attention spans and patience growing smaller and smaller, slow loading websites are definitely a problem.

      In addition to that, website formatting for mobile and tablet may also be another annoying factor driving customers to disappear and to never return.

  • A poor customer support service is a huge problem for any business. You will lose around 30% of valuable customers each and every month if you don’t have a proper customer support service. Thanks Lisa for coming out and explaining the importance of customer support.

    • Hi Juileann, Welcome to Inspire To Thrive. Yes, without any customer service a business cannot survive today. It’s harder to get a new customer than it is to retain your current base. I always recommend taking care of your customers first before trying to get any new ones. You have to grow a business slowly in order to make it for the long haul. Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend Juileann 🙂

  • Hi Lisa,
    You bring up a lot of good points here. It is easy to get caught up in the work of the moment and forget to engage meaningfully with past customers – and making the unhappy ones happy is even harder.

    • Hi Neena, nice to see you back here 🙂 I hear you on your input – that is something that can easily slip past us as we are busy from day to day activities. Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend Neena 🙂

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