Can A Dead Customer Be Resurrected?

By Kelli Robbins, President, Contact One Communications and Guest Blogger

No matter how hard we labored to make their service perfect, we all lose a client sometimes. Maybe it is our fault, or theirs, or a combination of both. A wrong number; a misspelling; a billing error… Anything can be the kiss of death. Or even worse, your competitor promised better service at half the rate. You just lost that client. How it hurts! Yet there is a way to bring them back from the dead.

Don’t delete their instructions. REPEAT: Don’t delete their instructions.

As a call center owner, do you spend any time trying to recover your cancelled clients? If not, you are missing out. Yes, it is a difficult task. Often, we don’t want to open old wounds and simply prefer to move past the failure. Yet we could bring thousands of dollars in billings back with a sincere and simple apology. Is it worth it? You know it is!

Clients can cancel your services for a variety of reasons:

  • They feel there is no use for answering service, or 24/7 phone coverage.
  • They had a bad experience with your staff.
  • As their company grew or diminished, they doubted that you could fulfill their needs.

Make a Dead List!             

Start by including every client that has cancelled your services in the past. Then delete the clients you have no interest in renewing a relationship with (oh yes, we all have a few of these “misfits” that will never work). Next, elicit a trusted member of your front-line team to help you answer these simple questions:

  • How much did we bill the client monthly (or yearly)?
  • Was there a problem that caused them to cancel? Did we resolve it?
  • How can we get them back? What tools will we need to improve?
  • When did they cancel? Focus on clients who are the most recent cancels first, since you’ll probably have a better chance at winning them back.

Now, get pumped up and start smiling and dialing! With a mix of sincerity, diligence and a major dose of humility, you may be able to revive 25-50 percent of these “dead” clients and significantly increase your bottom line.

The Disgruntled Dead

Before you begin the process of “smiling and dialing”, take a few moments and focus on what you want to achieve in this delicate phone call. Be prepared for a reaction. Try to anticipate what your dead customer may say or do, if you know them well enough (your staff probably does if you don’t). Before you can convince your client that you CAN meet their needs by making some simple changes, remember that you must:

  1. Listen without prejudice. Truly hear what they are saying!
  2. Demonstrate that you really understand the problem(s) by restating what you have just been told.
  3. Empathize with them. Understand why they are angry.
  4. Offer to personally own the problem and make it right.
  5. Never make excuses.

Convey your eagerness to do whatever it takes to win them back. Apologize no matter whose fault it is. The client – even a dead one – is always right. They write the checks and in an economy that is driven by customer satisfaction, you have to go the extra mile to stand above your competitors.

Despite your best efforts, you will probably not get every customer back. You may even get an earful of abuse. Be sure to center yourself, stick to your apologies and maintain a calm demeanor. If you are diligent and sincere, the worst that can happen is they will remain a cancelled client, but may view your organization in a different light. You have showed them respect.

Conclude the process by sending a warm letter, no matter what their attitude had been,  thanking them for spending the time to help you identify problem areas that could help you serve them better the next time around. It’s assumptive… but why not? What have you got to lose, really?

Bring Back the Dead!

Reactivating your dead customers can be a simple and effective process to get an immediate profit boost in your business.  Marketing expert Paul Lemberg ( has composed a “done for you” template that I think is brilliant. It’s super-simple and a real down to earth way to wake up your dead customers and get them working with you again. Here is an example, but you can use your own style:


Dear _____________,

I want to thank you for all of the business we have done together in the past. In our many years of providing answering service to businesses in our area, you have stood out, and I have really enjoyed working with you!

I’m really surprised that I haven’t heard from you in awhile. Given that we had been working together for such a long time (length?) as your answering service provider, I was hoping to find out why not.

Perhaps we’ve done something wrong. If we have, I’d like to know what it is. That way, maybe we can fix it for you, but certainly, I can make sure it won’t happen to anyone else. I will contact you personally to get your feedback. It is important to me.

Also, I want to make you aware that we have made some great new changes to our service! We have recently upgraded to web-based call processing services. While it may not sound exciting to you, we are OVER THE MOON! Our staff can be even more reactive to your callers, and sound just like a member of your internal team. In 30 years of providing telephone answering service to Pittsburgh’s business community, I can truthfully say that I’ve never been more excited.

Because of our new services, and because we worked together in the past, I have reserved a $___ gift card just for you to come back to our services, as a token of the relationship we have enjoyed. Just give me a call at (XXX) XXX-XXXX, and I’ll personally hand it to you. Or you can email me anytime at and I will either set up your “new” service over the phone or I can come by your office. Whatever is most convenient for you.

I’m looking forward to renewing our professional relationship!

To Your Continued Success,


Kelli Robbins


Contact One Communications Inc

PS: I’m really looking forward to hearing from you. I have the gift card waiting for you, ____, and I want to be sure you receive it. Call me at (XXX)XXX-XXXX.

Alive and Calling

Your efforts paid off! Your dead client said: “Yes, I’ll give you another chance.” Now the real work begins.

Your promise to resolve the problems of your newly resurrected client is key critical. You will now be put to the test and everyone must go that extra mile.  Communicate your excitement that you have won that dead customer back to your front line staff, and emphasize that every team member is expected to give their best to win back the trust and confidence of your revived customer.

Keep communicating during the transition, thanking the client for the opportunity to work with them once again. Send a sincere letter reiterating your appreciation for working with you to resolve the misunderstanding. Simply maintain regular contact to inquire if everything the service is working well, and if there is anything you can do to be of service.

We all know that it is better to have a customer than WISH you had one. Bring back those dead clients and watch your cash flow grow!


Founded in 1985, Contact One specializes in telephone answering service and custom call center applications for commercial, medical, e-commerce and web applications.

Contact One delivers information and business results through better communication. Contact One has helped thousands of business leaders develop strong communications management strategies. We work with clients on every aspect of communication from the development of telecom scripts, to the preparation and delivery of marketing plans, fulfillment, web presence and e-commerce management.