Churn No More: Secrets for Retention & Growth

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Churn is not the problem, it’s a symptom.

To stem the flow of customers leaving your product or service, you need to assess your business holistically. See where the gaps are and close them.

Here, we’ll discuss some causes of early and mid-stage churn, and how to make sure your customers stick around.

Incentivize Progress

We all know what it feels like to love a new tool for a week or two, only to start feeling like you’re running on a treadmill to nowhere. Remedy this by keeping your customers engaged. Continue to nudge them towards the next usage milestone.

There are several ways to do this. The best choice will depend on the nature of your product. Ultimately, though, success will lie in your understanding of how your customers are using and experiencing your product.

Provide them with individualized encouragement as they go. For example, if you use tier pricing, offer free upgrades as a reward for frequent.  This will promote brand loyalty and make customers feel valued.

Gamification is another effective approach. Giving your customers a tangible acknowledgment of their engagement makes interacting with your product feel even more productive. People love to level up and hear about how far they’ve come. Creating a level system or rewards program gives your customers something to work towards as they continue to use your product.

Provide Personal + Consistent Support

If you’ve ever had an issue with a tool or platform, chances are the first thing you looked for was a way to live chat with the support team. No one wants to have to type out a whole email, then wait however many business days for a reply. Or worse, make an actual phone call. That’s why it’s critical to provide your customers with a quick, convenient way to receive help from your CS or support team. 

You should also be proactive when it comes to offering support. Whether this means scheduling an email that includes tooltips or uploading a short video guide on a specific feature, don’t wait for your users to come to you with problems.

Giving customers answers to keep in their back pockets is a helpful way to reduce friction and prevent early churn. The way to do this is to understand your customer journey and identify gaps before your customers do.

Another thing to consider is the personality factor in the support you provide. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, try assigning specific customer support/success reps to the customers with whom they can best communicate. If you have the resources to give this kind of personalized service, it will mean stronger relationships between your existing customers and your team, thus giving customers another reason to keep coming back.

Pro tip: We use Crystal for this.

Treat Payment Failures With Care

We once heard Patrick Campbell—Co-founder and CEO of ProfitWell—give a session on retention. It was, in part, the inspiration for this post.

One of the most interesting things he touched on was the importance of treating payment failure as an opportunity instead of as inevitable churn.

When a customer’s payment fails, it’s important to reach out at the right time. Don’t email them in advance; not only is pre-dunning irritating, it increases the likelihood that that person will churn on the spot to avoid dealing with whatever friction is to come. 

Once their payment has failed, send a friendly notification that nudges the customer to update their payment method. Make updating painless and convenient, to further mitigate churn at this stage.  

Always be sure to follow up with people who don’t initially respond to dunning emails. It’s understandable to be wary of coming off as spammy, but these emails serve an important function. Of course, it’s hard to capture people’s attention through email, and there could be any number of reasons a person might not reply. Follow up at least a few times to make sure they’ve received the message.

Focus on Expansion + Evangelism

SaaS companies are often so eager to win net new business that they let their existing accounts stagnate. This is a mistake! 

Continuing to cultivate those relationships and expand them into additional business is a huge boost for your revenue. Because the cost of acquisition is already in your rearview mirror, any additional business from existing accounts will result in increased LTV and revenue impact that is more cost-effective than net new business. Therefore, companies that focus on expansion as well as acquisition will grow faster than those that ignore upsell, cross-sell, and renewal as active funnels.  

As for evangelists, they can be just as valuable for driving revenue, if not more so. Encouraging loyalty and evangelism with top tier customer success efforts will help bring in that coveted referral business. It will also generate positive buzz around your product. Just by effectively utilizing your resources, you’ve essentially won yourself the best kind of free marketing there is.

Widen Your Net + Keep Things Exciting

Most SaaS companies are born from a problem that lacks a great solution. 

This means that users will engage only when that problem arises for them, often resulting in a product that isn’t useful enough to be sticky. Just as great onboarding is critical to reducing early churn, strategic product development will protect you from churn that occurs when people realize that, having solved an isolated problem, they no longer need what you’re selling. 

Instead of being a bandaid for a single wound, your product needs to be full-body armor, or at least as close to that as you can get. Analyze your user data, get feedback from your customers, and build them what they need. New features, product offshoots—these things keep your service interesting, and allow you to grow along with your customers.