homepage logo

Money Matters: Fresh ways to win back stale clients

By Peter Ord - Special to the Daily Herald | Mar 18, 2023


In online dating, when someone we’re interested in no longer responds to our texts or calls, we call it “ghosting.” In the business world, when a client no longer communicates with an organization, we call it “being inactive.” However you label it, when a client no longer engages with you, your client relationship has gone stale. 

How often do customers become disengaged with organizations? The average churn rate can vary greatly from industry to industry, with some verticals seeing as much as a 40% turnover in their customer base. For those industries, that’s nearly half of their clients “ghosting” their business.

Just like the heartache of a one-sided love affair, you should mourn the loss of a great client. Why? Because they are the heart of your business. They are your brand advocates and likely make up the lion’s share of your sales. In fact, an existing customer is 60-70% more likely to buy from you than a new customer (at only a 5-20% rate). Courting a new customer? It will cost you up to seven times more to establish that new relationship rather than retain an existing one. So how can you focus on renewing a relationship that has gone stale? You can design a win-back strategy, re-engage in a meaningful way and keep those relationship fires lit.

Design a win-back strategy

Much like a determined teenager trying to win back his high school sweetheart, your organization needs to define a strategy for bringing back lapsed customers. First, you need to identify those customers who are worth winning back, and let’s be honest, not every ex is one you might want to re-engage with. The ideal customer to start with is one who needed your solution in the first place, was thrilled with the results, but maybe got lost along the way. 

The customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, so this is no time to scrimp on your efforts to re-engage. You need to implement a few key strategies to create an effective plan for winning back a client.

  • Get personal. Behind every breakup are real people with individual concerns, issues and needs. In order to “make up,” you’ll need to understand them on a personal level. A generic, bandage, “We miss you” approach will not impress anyone who’s ghosted you. What they really want is an individualized and caring experience. Make sure each customer gets the personalized treatment they deserve.
  • Do your homework. Understanding when and why a customer lapsed will be key to creating a strategy for re-engaging. By reviewing their engagement in the past six, 12 and 18 months, you can better identify those who were once engaged but have become inactive. If you’re using a CRM tool, it will be much easier to track engagement. From these drop-off points, you can determine what caused the breakup and why.
  • Add incentives. What’s the number one reason customers come back? The experience! Just like you might woo back an ex with a bouquet of flowers, your customer will appreciate an added incentive to re-engage. Can you offer them a discount on a new service or solution, provide an extension on their invoice or in other ways offer them an experience that goes above and beyond what they expect?

Getting back together with someone takes work, and so does re-establishing relationships with clients. Starting with a strong and personalized strategy is a good first step in winning back a customer. Now that you have identified what went wrong, have done your homework and have something special to offer, it’s time to re-engage!


It’s up to you to make the first move. Don’t wait for an established client to reach out. When re-engaging, you want to remind the client why they fell in love with you in the first place. A timid “How’s it going?” email isn’t going to cut it when you’re trying to reconnect. Make the effort to call them or set up a meeting. Let them see your face and hear your voice. Only then can you truly communicate your enthusiasm for rebuilding the relationship.

Use additional means to let them know you’ve been missing them. Like an old high school flame liking your Instagram posts, get engaged with what they’re doing. You once knew them like the back of your hand. Can you say that now? What successes can you celebrate with them? What pain points have newly developed for their organization? What new solutions can you offer them that would truly bring value to their business? If you haven’t been keeping up with them, they’ll know it; and that’s a big turn-off! Fifty-two percent of customers will break up with a purchase if they have a bad experience, so do your research and don’t blow it!

Keep the fires lit

Eighty-one percent of customers want to establish loyalty with a brand, and you can make that happen! Now that you understand when, why and how your client relationship went stale and you’ve re-engaged, you need to make sure you keep that reignited fire burning. Here are some ways you can continue to maintain your re-established relationship:

  • Communicate. Every couples counselor will tell you that communication is vital in a relationship. Don’t neglect to keep the lines of communication open after just one reconnection call. Maintain the relationship through meaningful points of contact that improve the experience for the customer.
  • Listen. Are you hearing more than you’re speaking to your clients? Eighty-three percent of customers feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints. A customer that feels valued and listened to is far more likely to share in-depth insights with you, and that will guide you in providing true value through solutions and services for them.
  • Stay committed. In any lasting relationship, there are two parties committed to making it work. If you’ve established a connection and worked hard to maintain that relationship, then it’s important not to neglect the relationship. Continue to nurture your connection well past the sales and implementation phases, as organizations and individuals’ needs change all the time. Be there for them through thick and thin! 

Just because you’re going through a rocky patch in your client relationship doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged. By designing an effective win-back strategy, consciously re-engaging and working to keep the fires lit, you’re well on the way to building a long-term, committed relationship with a loyal customer. 

Peter Ord is the founder of GUIDEcx, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Lehi.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)