How to Create a Win-Back Strategy in 5 Steps

How to Create a Win-Back Strategy in 5 Steps

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Selina Marshall
December 10, 2019

We all know the phrase, “‘tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. It’s a nice sentiment that’s helped many of us out of the post break-up funk. 


Unfortunately, most businesses take this idea a little too seriously when their customers decide to leave. When it comes to a sustainable, long-term business plan, ‘tis better to have lost and won back.


Every Business Needs a Win-Back Strategy


In a previous article, we covered why having a win-back strategy is important for subscription and Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) businesses. However, most brands focus the majority of their efforts on acquisition. They don’t realize these former customers are waiting to be won back


With an effective win-back strategy in place, you can decrease acquisition costs, minimize churn, and foster customer loyalty. 


Of course, knowing you need a win-back strategy is only half the battle. You also need to know what it takes to create and implement one.


The key to an effective win-back strategy is two-fold: not only do you need a strong post-cancellation plan, but you need to set the foundation for a win-back before the customer even leaves.


How to Build a Win-Back Strategy in 5 Steps


1. Be Proactive


Let’s state the obvious: the easiest way to regain customers is to avoid losing them in the first place. Be proactive in assessing the needs of your current customers and work on improving their experience.



  • Start with market research. What are your competitors offering that increases customer loyalty? What is causing their customers to leave? What are they offering to entice them to return?

  • Use post-purchase surveys to learn what attracted customers in the first place. Use this information to improve their service and take action to resolve any complaints.

  • Check-in with your current customers. What do they appreciate about their experience with you and your product? Where could you improve? Use the Net Promoter Score to measure the likelihood of customers recommending a friend.

  • Use smart retention software to address customer concerns before they decide to leave.


2. Identify Customers Most Likely to Return


Not all former customers are equally likely to come back. Look for the customers who were active users, engaged with your community, and who stayed with your service for a significant amount of time. 


Often, these types of customers cancel due to factors out of their control: tight budgets, big life milestones, or they moved to a different city. Or maybe they canceled because of one bad experience with a rogue customer service rep. 


Either way, your best win-back candidates are those who had a good experience with your brand at some point.



  • Use surveys at the point of cancellation to learn why customers are leaving. 

  • Track customer behavior across your product or service to identify active user and spot drop offs in activity (this could be a sign of an impending cancellation). 

  • Use free tools like the Net Win-Back Score to gauge a customer’s willingness to return.


3. Make Things Personal


Some customers will decide to leave despite your best efforts. If you followed the first two steps, you’ll be prepared. You can use the information you’ve collected to create a personalized offer when persuading them to return. 


Personalized offers address a customer’s unique concerns and makes them feel catered to. This makes it much easier to win them back. Here are some things to keep in mind: 



  • Factor in their reason for leaving. For example, if price was an issue, provide a discount offer.

  • Include reminders about their former favorite products and services. Let them know they’re still available if they return. 

  • Ask to rate their personalized offer. Is it relevant? Many customer support tools like Intercom allow you to add customer satisfaction questions to the bottom of emails. 


4. Reach Out at the Right Time


Reaching out at the right time is just as important as the personalized offer. Understanding their past preferences is key here. Make sure to utilize data from behavior analytic tools to know when the iron is hot enough to strike.


Look into the context surrounding their departure. For instance, if a video streaming customer cancels their subscription after their favorite show is pulled, reach out when a similar show is set to air.


Contact them when there are important updates to the products and services they used most, or when you introduce similar products they might be interested in.


Avoid reaching out during times when they’ve historically used your products the least (e.g., during the summer). Instead, reach out right BEFORE they historically used your product the most. 


Use smart win-back tools to automatically find the best times to attempt a win-back.


5. Once They’re Back, Keep Them


Returning customers tend to be more loyal than one-time customers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t jump ship again. Continue to collect data that will help you win them back if they decide to leave for a second time.



  • Collect data from each step of the win-back process: departure, reason for leaving, and the personalized offer that brought them back.

  • If they decide to leave again, determine what went right the first time they were won back and create a similar offer.

  • Hone in your win-back strategy for each customer persona. 


Accelerate your Growth with an Effective Win-Back Strategy


Building a successful win-back strategy can feel like a massive undertaking. Many businesses back down from this challenge and wind up overlooking a critical part of the customer lifecycle. 


Fortunately, machine learning tools like Bellwethr’s Win-Back Engine can handle the labor-intensive aspects of an effective win-back strategy while also helping to optimize it. 


Your former customers are out there just waiting to be won back. Use your win-back strategy to bring them home.