You will have buyers who perhaps bought and stopped buying. You will have subscribers who subscribed and then lapsed. You will have clients, if you’re a service provider, for whom you did a project, did an engagement, provided a solution for… and then stopped.
You might have partners that you did a lot of things with, and then that need stopped, and later it sort of fell by the wayside.
So the first thing, you need to do is look at your business and make a list.
1. What are the different classes, or categories, or types of buyers that you have served over a period of time? It can be the last few years, the last year… It depends on the kind of business you’re in. What did they buy, and are they active or inactive now?
Now, this presupposes that whatever you sell is an ongoing, repetitive, or re-purchasable product or service. Or, that you have other products or services that people logically could keep buying if they buy your first product.
Once you’ve done this, the next thing for you to do is to recognise what the categories of buyers are. Then once you’ve done this, work out:
2. Who is active and who is inactive. Depending on the type of business and the kind of product or service that is sold, ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ can be six months, three months, nine month. For example, if I go and get my hair cut and I normally need it every five weeks but I haven’t been back for five months then I’m probably inactive. But, if I have my car serviced annually and I haven’t had it done for three months then I am still active but if I haven’t had it serviced for a year then I’m inactive. It’s all relative to your business, your product and the frequency with which your customers buy them from you.
The next thing you do is you categorise the types of buyers, or subscribers, or clients, or partners you have dealt with.
3. Look and see – have you done ever done any one-off deals? This could be with vendors, unusual sales channels or through co-marketing arrangements. A lot of promotions can happen where two or three complementary, non-competitive businesses come together. And so you’ve got to view what you’ve done in the past that is no longer being done.
Once you’ve identified what the categories are, who the parties are, and what fit what they are, then value rank them by ‘Recency’.
4. That means even though they are inactive, the ones that are the most recently inactive are going to be easier to restart than the ones that are older.
Once you have ‘ordered’ your inactive clients go to them with a number of different communication approaches and seek their opinion. Tell them you want to understand why they have not bought from you in a while. Customer feedback surveys are perfect for this. Recognise this…
People stop doing business with other people for many reasons and many of the reasons have nothing to do with a negative experience. Most commonly, people have an interruption in their lives…
- Maybe they became ill.
- Maybe they went on vacation.
- Maybe they got distracted by something more major in their business and stayed distracted.
- Maybe they stop having a need.
- Maybe they had a life-changing event (a birth, marriage, bereavement, motor accident).
- Maybe they got injured and they couldn’t keep using a service.
- Maybe they build up too much of a backlog.
You can see there are all kinds of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with their interest in continuing to buy from you. It is just that they’ve stopped and we now have this habit. Consider this scientifically proven rule – it takes 30 days to form a good habit and 30 days to form a bad habit. Well, then it only takes 30 days to get negatively habituated from buying from you.
So if you contact them again, now you can confidently make this assumption… the chances that they are not buying from you, has absolutely nothing to do with you! And if that’s the case, your survey shows you still care about them. If it is the case, their feedback could help you correct a previous mistake and in doing so create some new customer loyalty.
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