It would be great if businesses knew that, once a customer was through their doors for the first time, they were going to be a customer for life. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic in the majority of cases. A certain amount of churn takes place in every business.
But first of all, what is customer churn? Simply put, it’s the percentage of customers who stop using your goods or services over a set period of time — also known as customer turnover, customer attrition, or customer defection.
Some churn may be due to changing requirements on the part of the customer. Alternatively, in a competitive market where comparisons with the competition are easier than ever, it could be because existing customers have found what they perceive to be a more suitable deal elsewhere.
But while some churn is inevitable, it is nonetheless something companies should work to avoid — and, certainly, work to avoid reaching an unwanted high level. A high churn rate means losing customers rapidly as you gain them. Since acquiring new customers can cost many, many times what it costs to retain existing ones, high churn means that you have to spend considerably more money just to stay in the same place that you were before. It slows or reverses growth, and limits the resources and time that you have to expand as a business.
What are some of the steps you can take to reduce customer churn? Here are four top ones.
Better understand your audience
It’s easy to think that, because a customer is using your business, that must make the two parties well-suited to one another. That’s not always the case, however. To ensure a long-lasting relationship with the people who use your business, you have to research the audience to understand what they are looking for.
Customer persona profiles are a common way for business operators and marketing teams to build up a picture of the people who use their business, or who they want to appeal to. These can be gathered in a number of ways — whether by reviewing data analytics about site interactions, direct engagement via social media, or other approaches.
Properly researching customer personas can help businesses to identify the goals and pain points their customers have with regards to business and purchasing decisions. This can aid with addressing problems that could cause customers to look elsewhere for a service that better meets their needs.
(As an added bonus, this can also help find new customers more cheaply by letting you know at which prospective customers to aim advertising or marketing offers at.)
Analyze, analyze, analyze
The good thing about analysis is it can help you pinpoint information such as what exactly happened during a customer journey that stopped them coming back. That’s a positive if it means you improve that pain point the next time around. The great thing about modern analytic tools, however, is that they can be used to not just carry out post mortems on why a customer journey ended badly, but what you can do <em>right now</em> to avoid that happening. Churn prediction modeling tools can be used to spot the customer attributes and behaviors which suggest that they represent a churn risk. If you can know, in near-real time whether a customer is pleased or not with a service they have received, you can follow up with customer service that could turn a customer’s positive experience into a very positive one or reverse a bad experience.
Utilizing these tools will help improve the customer experience, reduce churn, and differentiate your brand from those of competitors who fail to take these steps.
It’s all about onboarding
Think of the difference, at the start of a vacation, between a smooth trip from the airport to your hotel and a stressful, convoluted journey and check-in. It’s possible to have a great vacation that starts badly, but it doesn’t get things started on the best note. Most customers are nowhere near as invested in a prospective business as they are with a vacation they’ve already paid for. A confusing, unintuitive onboarding process adds a hurdle that, in many cases, can put customers off a service that they’d potentially be interested in.
Failure to do proper onboarding is frustrating because prospective customers have already shown they have an affinity for what you’re selling. Optimizing onboarding can help identify and drive users to the features and products that will most matter to them, enhance the stickiness and satisfaction rate, and result in more successful trial conversion. Tools like automated onboarding and strong troubleshooting can be a game-changer in reducing churn.
Don’t stop getting better
As the old saying goes: “A work of art is never completed, but merely abandoned.” This is true also for businesses. It’s easy to think, particularly when you reach a level of success, that there’s nothing you can do to get better. That’s a big mistake. Especially if you’ve proven your business is successful there will be other companies looking to find ways to offer a superior service to steal away your customers. Continuously searching for ways to iterate and improve is essential. There are almost always pain points that can be addressed — whether it’s to do with website speed, the complexity of pages or features, the cost of a service, a lack of personalized offers, or whatever else.
Constantly looking for where those problems might exist, and how to solve these, is what every business should be doing. As a business, you don’t want to always be in the position of having to look for new customers just to survive. But you should always make sure that you’re winning over your existing customers as though they’re new ones.