Chapter 8

Preventing Customer Churn

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Customer Churn: The Ultimate Guide

Loyal customers are one of the most valuable assets a company can have. 

Not only does customer loyalty equal a higher lifetime value as compared to short-term clientele, but long-term customers boost brand image and are more likely to provide word-of-mouth advertising to their peers. 

A high churn rate can reflect poorly on your enterprise and require you to invest more in customer acquisition; retention efforts are far less costly and often provide more positive results.

The right success platform can prevent customer churn by identifying which accounts are at risk of product abandonment, allowing you to take action quickly and engage clients during every stage of the customer journey. 

Through these five key steps, you can prevent customer churn and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty:

  • Make Value Apparent With Established Goals and Metrics
  • Ensure a Rapid Time to Value with Optimized Onboarding
  • Identify Escalation Trends
  • Use Data in Context for Personalized Engagement
  • Establish an Early Warning System to Identify Concerning Trends

In order to properly prevent customer churn, it’s crucial to understand the common factors that lead to churn in the first place.

Leading Causes of Customer Churn

Although every departing client obviously has their own individual motivations for doing so, analyzing common causes of customer churn will help illustrate key actions needed to boost retention. 

Some of the most frequent causes of customer churn include:

  • The Customer Doesn’t See Value in Their Investment: If clients aren’t given metrics and goals that demonstrate the value of a service, they likely won’t fully realize the benefits they are receiving.
  • Setup is Too Slow: Having customers go through long, labor-intensive implementation stages provides ample opportunities for abandonment. Even if clients don’t churn, a lengthy setup will inevitably cause a slower time-to-value (TTV).
  • Unsuccessful Onboarding: The onboarding stage revolves around educating the client on how your product works and what value it will bring. If this training falters, the client will likely stop engaging with the service altogether.
  • Poor Interactions: Some of the strongest catalysts toward churn can be found through bad experiences with the product and negative personnel interactions. If these issues are not resolved successfully, they can have a highly detrimental impact on the client’s relationship with the company.

In addition to these leading reasons, factors beyond your control (e.g. personnel changes in a customer’s business, shifting objectives, etc.) can push clients towards at-risk status. Customers that leave often point towards a combination of factors to explain their decision, making fast remedies complicated to instill. 

Introducing certain proactive measures can prevent many of these problems from occurring in the first place.

Ways to Prevent Customer Churn

To fortify yourself against the elements outlined above, it’s essential that you implement strategies that will lay a strong foundation for your customers and continually demonstrate value to them. 

These five practices will help you do just that:

1. Make Value Apparent With Established Goals and Metrics

You must demonstrate value to your customer from the very beginning stages of your relationship with them. 

During the onboarding process, it’s important to speak with customers about what they hope to accomplish with your product. 

Establishing concrete goals and metrics will help optimize the entire customer journey. As progress is made over time, these objectives can be revisited during regular business reviews as a clear illustration of value.

2. Ensure a Rapid Time to Value with Optimized Onboarding

Delivering results is the best way to show the value that your product brings—the quicker you can demonstrate this to your customers, the quicker they will realize that they made a smart decision by choosing your company. To make time to value as swift as possible, make sure you are leveraging journey analytics to track your impact. 

You can leverage digital onboarding to do more with less as you quickly prove your value to customers. Create an ideal timeline, complete with established milestones to measure yourself by and automated playbooks for your team to follow when things go off course. 

3. Identify Escalation Trends

Throughout onboarding, customers receive a great deal of new information, creating the possibility of confusion and a need for further guidance. For customers that run into issues, whether they are onboarding or beyond, it is important to resolve these problems in a timely, satisfactory manner to avoid escalation and a sour customer relationship. 

In the unfortunate event of an escalation, the ability to identify escalation trends is critical to prevent the same mistakes from repeating. 

Tracking the volume of tickets and types of escalations can help you identify patterns and take the appropriate next steps. While you should always aim to resolve escalations quickly, you should also use the information to improve your messaging and processes. 

4. Use Data in Context for Personalized Engagement

Leveraging data to create personalized engagement is a critical step in making clients feel supported and heard. 

Key data points such as escalations, adoption rates, digital engagement, and feedback should all be tracked and recorded. Monitoring these elements will help you anticipate specific customer needs and craft the right value at the right time for the customer. 

5. Establish an Early Warning System to Identify Concerning Trends

Just as collecting data can let you know when a customer is healthy and active, it can also alert you to alarming patterns. 

Declining product usage, a high number of open support tickets, and low net promoter scores are just some of the red flags that can point towards trouble. Early warning systems are a key component of today’s customer success platforms, and when they detect these problematic patterns, the system automatically notifies the CSM and the appropriate playbook is initiated, ensuring the client issue is addressed—no matter the hour.

Reducing Churn in Low-Touch Models

Darren Suomi, VP Sales at HootSuite during the Sales 2.0 event gave a tip regarding the self-service model and how to adjust it to reduce churn.

Darren claimed that in a self-service model (or low-touch model) like HootSuite, once they find out who their active users are in their service, they proactively reach out to them and ensure that they’re referring them to the right toolsets, plans, or educational resources to help them get the most out of their platform.

This can be done only after getting the right metrics, cohort analysis, and finding your most engaged customers - HootSuite naturally does this via social media, and that also helps guide their general audience (those who are reached by the same posts) on how better to utilize their platform - leading to better retention and less churn.

The clear take-away to this is by using tools for cohort analysis and tracking you can find would-be engaged customers and help direct their usage of your product, and also achieve better marketing as an effect.