“I like to work and acquire new customers just to let them go”— said no one ever.
But that’s what we all do when we let our customers churn without doing anything about it. Which is even crazier when you know that acquiring a new customer actually costs 5 times more than keeping an existing one.
So, how do you reduce your churn in practice?
1. Use education content wisely
Your customers started using your product for a reason: to achieve their “desired outcomes”. It’s your responsibility to help them obtain it, by engaging your customers with your product and educating them.
You probably have an FAQ section on your website, plus a support team that users can contact any time. But this is far from being enough. As long as your users don’t truly know how your product works, they cannot know if they have an issue or if they are not using it properly. You have to educate them.
Education content should be sent proactively to your users in order to show them the full potential of your product or service and to help them make the most of it. It has to be sent wisely: not every user need to know about everything. Managers may need to configure your product or choose among options, while collaborators only need to know how to use it.
Education is particularly important in the beginning, to drive your new customer to the first value. But it’s important to engage regularly by sharing new features and updates.
2. Share your vision of the future
Your customers tend to mistake you for Santa Claus and keep making their wish list of new products and features? So do lots of users. Don’t fall in the trap of sharing your open roadmap as a way to make them wait. As David Cancel, CEO of Drift.com explains:
“I’ve never seen a release where you announced it and you shipped it. The date is almost never met. Or you announced it and nobody cared, or you had outages or bugs with the product. Support’s blowing up, the product’s blowing up, customers are pissed, sales has no examples. It’s just a total cluster.”
No one knows what the future will be — neither do you for your product. Instead of sharing your roadmap and risking to disappoint your users, you can share with them your vision of the future: where the market is going, how you can meet the needs, what you foresee for your product… Your users will adhere much more easily to a vision that matches theirs than a simple list of features and release dates.
Also, make sure that new features meet their desired outcomes. It will deepen your relationship with them.
3. Keep in touch with your users
Show them that you care. Of course, your users won’t keep using your product if it isn’t right for them (quality issues, lack of features, …). But what will set your product apart among all other competitors is truly caring for your users and their success.
You need to be present, to keep in touch regularly, to be proactive with communication, both good and bad. Your SaaS is down for an hour? Share the news, apologize, and make a commitment on when the situation will be back to normal. You’ve raised funds, hired new employees, released new features? Likewise, spread the news and share your excitement with your users!
4. Check out on your customers’ health
Sometimes called “Executive Business Reviews”, Quarterly Business Reviews are one of the most important activities your Customer Success Managers (CSMs) perform. The idea is to organize a meeting with your customers, including executives from both sides — yours and your customer’s, in order to “review the quarter”. As its name suggests it, the QBR should be organized at least once every quarter for high-touch customers (your top-tier ones) and can be spaced out a little for your medium-touch customers.
The QBR is a strategic event, not a tactical one. You can share information like the results from the previous 90 days, the ROI of your product, new products or features they may be interested in, and major obstacles to success. The ideal format is a meeting in person, but if you can’t go on-site, you should at least organize a video-conference.
When done properly, QBRs help to foster relationships between your executives and your customer’s executive, reinforcing your value to the customer, and eliminating the question of whether your customer will renew once the contract or subscription expires.
5. Ask for feedback
If the 10 commandments of the customer relation existed, the list would start by “Know your customers.” How can you create the tool they need and want to pay for if you have no clue of what it is? In addition to QBRs, you can reach out to existing customers and ask them how their experience is.
If you want it to be successful and useful, don’t send a “45-question survey”, but genuinely check in on how your customers are doing, and if you can help them somehow. By sending such an open request, you’re more likely to engage with customers who might churn out. Plus, you’ll uncover issues, helping you to quickly fix them and keep your customers happy.
One alternative (and very effective format) of such a request is the NPS: the Net Promoter Score. It measures the percentage of customers who are willing to recommend your product. It is usually measured through a survey, asking your users: “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [our product] to a friend or coworker?” The NPS allows to pinpoint unhappy customers (scores between 1 and 6) and reach out to them before they churn.
6. Use alerts and score to proactively reach out slipping customers
Don’t wait for your users to tell you what’s wrong or leave. You can reach out proactively “at-risk” customers in order to understand what’s going on and try to solve the problem.
To identify “at-risk” customers, first, you need to monitor their activity — the more you know about your clients, the more you can drive them. Then, you need to define leading indicators for your business that can tell if somebody is slipping out, such as:
- The user hasn’t unlocked the true potential of the product (creating his•her personal account, inviting users, …).
- The user hasn’t logged in for 2 weeks.
- The user hasn’t opened 2 transactional emails in a row.
When a user is tagged with one or several red flag metrics, you should give them a phone call to ask them what’s going on.