Historically, the majority of traditional CRM models usually consist of several levels, sub-dimensions, life-cycle-stages, and specific activities taking place at each stage. The one thing they have in common is ignoring the customer’s life-stage beyond termination. In practice, however, some firms choose to chase their lost customers and become successful at winning them back or reacquiring them, rather than calculate losses and moving on (Griffin, 2001). Stauss and Friege (1999) define customer reacquisition as “rebuilding the relationship with customers who explicitly quit the business relationship. This reacquisition of lost customers has been termed customer win-back, which is a result of the process of firms’ revitalizing relationships with customers who have defected (Thomas et al. 2004).

Thomas et al. (2004) suggest that customer win-back strategies are an area that marketing literature largely neglects. Indeed, Tokman (2007), enumerates only three academic studies investigating this issue: Stauss and Friege (1999), Helfert (2003), Thomas et al. (2004).

Nevertheless, customer win-back is a crucial element to CRM strategy. Indeed, regaining lost customers is related to enhanced rates of repeat-selling and a higher return on investment compared to brand new selling, as customers in the acquisition phase are mostly unprofitable and become increasingly profitable the longer the relationship continues (Griffin and Lowenstein, 2001; Straus and Friege 1999). Moreover, there comes an ability to carry out service improvement by analyzing defected customers’ reasons for leaving. Wisely implemented win-back strategies increase capability to detect at-risk customers by learning from defected customers, and the ability to limit negative word of mouth from switchers and increase positive word of mouth through those reacquired (Reichheld 1996; Stauss and Friege 1999).

Among the related terms is lapsed consumer, which is opposing to an active consumer, defined as a consumer, who used to be active in the product market but not engaged in making purchases anymore (Hansotia and Wang). Lost consumer (Griffin and Lowenstein 2001), defected consumer (Thomas et al. 2004) considered as inactive consumers who used to have experiences with the product, service, or brand. They also define an at-risk customer as a customer inclining to leave, retain customer, which is at the stage of successful retention and lost customer – already gone customer from the relationship with a supplier. Working with the categories of customers mentioned above happens with the help of regain management, aimed at rebuilding the relationship with customers who explicitly quit the business relationship. Regain management incorporates:

  • regain analysis, under which the utilization of individual transactional data allows measuring the actual win-back offer acceptance, win-back offer worth, win-back effectiveness, and SLTV (second life-time value);
  • regain strategies, like initiating direct individual dialog with the customer concerning specific win-back offer;
  • regain control, using Return on Regain analysis, cost and benefit analysis to estimate how effective the regaining performance is.

Another related term is general willingness to return (GWR), introduced by Pick et al. (2016), which demonstrates an entire construct bridging consumer heterogeneity and regain performance, positively reflects the success of customer relationship revival.

Win-back studies sometimes overlap with those related to switching (a situation, when lost customers switch to an alternative provider). As a result, there comes a switch-back intention. Tokman et al. (2007) suggest to measure it with the presence of a hypothetically given win-back offer and quantified based on perceptual tradeoffs between original and new service providers. Reacquisition performance articulation is insufficient without this metric. Bansal and Gefen (2010) use a similar approach while building a model to understand service switching behavior, which emphasizes the importance of the complex effects of antecedents on switching intentions.

Except for cases when win-back strategies implementation is problematic, time-consuming, and ineffective, in general, customer reacquisition provides firms with substantial financial and service improvement benefits. The findings indicate that, in order for win-back offers to be effective, goods manufacturers and service providers must consider a customer’s reasons for leaving and their relationships with the current service provider. Value determinants like price and service benefits provided in the win-back offer, social capital, and service importance play a prominent role in shaping customer switch-back intentions regardless of the level of previous satisfaction, regret, or delight with the new service provider