New Study Shows Fired Suppliers Miss Re-sell Opportunity

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Lost customers are ripe for win-back, says “Customer Winback” co-author Jill Griffin.

When you are dismissed, it's very important to walk away gracefully. Burnt bridges are hard to re-cross. Good sportsmanship statements like

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Lost customers are ripe for win-back. Yet, few companies leverage the opportunity, reports “Customer Winback” co-author Jill Griffin. Her newest customer loss study fielded with research firm, CustomerSat, uncovers fresh evidence why a customer win-back strategy should be part of every firm's arsenal of loyalty tools.

Survey Provides Insight

"A whopping 62% of buyers surveyed who recently dismissed a key supplier reported choosing another supplier that offered basically the same product or service," says Griffin. "This finding shouts out that the lost account's needs have not changed and can still be filled by the dismissed supplier. This spells win-back opportunity!" reports Griffin.

Importantly, buyers also report their dismissed suppliers do not even attempt to win them back. Only 25% reported the dismissed supplier offered an apology and only 14% of buyers said dismissed suppliers adopted a keep-in-touch strategy with them. "These two actions---making an apology and staying in touch-are essential steps to recovering lost business," offers Griffin. "Yet, the data clearly shows that once an account is lost, most fired firms do not pursue the win-back opportunity."

But the reason(s) for customer loss must always be factored into the win-back strategy. "Our research found that 'non-competitive pricing' was referenced as the key factor contributing to customer loss for 44% of buyers and 46% of sellers. Losing a customer on price often signals that the dismissed supplier's value proposition has grown stale and needs a boost. To win back the customer without caving on price, value issues must be carefully addressed," advises Griffin.

These findings were gleaned from an in-depth Jill Griffin/Customer Sat survey of over 500 sales, marketing and corporate buying executives performed in the last 60 days. Executives surveyed represented a cross-section of industries including insurance, banking and other financial services, manufacturing, electronics, technology, professional services, healthcare, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Steps to Win-back a Lost Customer

What actions should a firm take when a high value account is lost? Griffin offers these proven steps for successfully recovering a lost customer and rebuilding trust:

1. Forgive yourself and your team mates. "Stuff happens" as the saying goes and getting past the pain of losing the account is job one.
2. Apologize to the lost customer. If you lost on price, a "We're sorry we failed to deliver on value" statement can help set the stage for a win-back.
3. Ask, "What can we do to win back your business?" Listen carefully to all grievances.
4. Fully address the customer's requirements. In addition, investigate what the customer will pay a premium for. Communicate the changes you have made. Ask again for the customer's business.
5. Be patient with the customer. Be open. Remember, some wounds heal slowly.
6. Stay in touch with the lost customer.
7. Make it easy for customers to come back to you. Avoid any "I told you so" stance.
8. When the customer does return, earn the business (and justify the trust!) every day.

Griffin adds, "When you are dismissed, it's very important to walk away gracefully. Burnt bridges are hard to re-cross. Good sportsmanship statements like "I completely understand your decision. We should have performed better," helps take your customer off the hook. Such statements can also help to position you for re-entry."    

About Jill Griffin
Jill Griffin is an internationally published business author and speaker, and corporate board director of a NYSE company. Her book, "Customer Loyalty," has been published in six languages, and was named to Harvard Business School's "Working Knowledge" list. Her co-authored book, "Customer Winback" earned Soundview's "Best Books" annual publishing award. Since 1988 she has led Austin-based Griffin Group (, serving Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Ford Motor Company, Wells Fargo and Western Union.

About CustomerSat, Inc.
CustomerSat ( is the leading provider of enterprise solutions for measuring, analyzing, and managing enterprise-wide action responding to real-time customer feedback. With advanced technologies and proven market research techniques, CustomerSat delivers feedback solutions for service and support, sales and marketing, HR, channel and partner management, IT, website operations and e-commerce, supply chain management and investor relations. CustomerSat is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices throughout the US and Europe. For news, product demonstrations, and other company information, visit or call 1.800.372.7772.

Jill Griffin

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