For many businesses reconnecting with customers is somewhat awkward, especially if considerable time has elapsed. Often customers that are no longer visiting our business are simply classified as lost.

The reality is that there could be a simple reason why the customer hasn't been in for a while. Whatever the reason, it's good for you to know, especially if the customer was with you for a long time and who knows, maybe getting in touch will get the customer back.

It only takes a few minutes to make a quick telephone call or to drop a past customer a quick email to say hello. There is nothing at all wrong with mentioning that you haven't seen them for a while and you were wondering if everything was OK with the products that you sell or the services that you offer.

You may find that there was a problem that you can rectify easily over the telephone in a few seconds. It may be that a competitor has opened up that is better located or better suited to meet the customer's needs. It may be a simple financial matter. Whatever the reason, you need to know.

I did a project for a financial planning group a little while back. They contacted 3,000 clients who had been missed in the system, and they didn't have renewal emails or calls made. There was a sense of awkwardness from the company, clearly it was a fairly unprofessional mistake, not one that would inspire a lot of confidence.

That said, they bit the bullet and contacted all 3,000 clients - over fifty percent of them signed up again. They were glad to get the call. The other fifty percent either moved on or had a change of circumstances to manage. But getting a fifty percent success rate is quite astonishing when you think about it.

I have seen a lot of businesses dig out their old customer files and start doing a bit of a ring around, and all of a sudden they have attracted a pile of new business, simply because they have called at the right time.

Other business owners have found that their accounts department has continually been messing up the invoicing, to the point where the customer has simply had enough. Now you have an opportunity to try and rebuild the relationship if they are prepared to give you a second chance. 

You may find that if you have reduced your profile in the business, your customers aren't as happy to deal with your staff--they started using your business because of you, and if you aren't the one that they deal with now, they may have decided to go elsewhere.

Contacting 'lost' customers is an interesting exercise, to say the least. It may be a little confronting for some people, but for those that are serious about customer service it's a very good exercise that will pay for itself many times over.