We spend a lot of time talking about how to prevent churn and what to do during the churn process, but let’s take a step back and think about the process before a customer churns.

As you know, a churn can be as simple as a failed credit card, or as purposeful as a straight-up cancellation.

Today, we’ll focus on signs you can look out that will help you spot when a customer is looking to leave. These triggers will help you recognize and prevent churn before it even happens.

1. They’re not logging in

It’s important to have a way to track when customers are actually logging into your platform (whether it’s in your own system, or your CRM). It goes without saying, but the more active your customers are, the more likely they are to continue using your product.

If you’re using something like Intercom, MixPanel, or Heap, you can see how individual customers are working within your platform.

Some analytics systems will even let you set up alerts if a customer hasn’t logged on for a certain period of time. From there, you can have someone on your customer service team reach out to them.

You can also set up a re-engagement campaign to reach out to those who haven’t logged in in a few weeks to see if they need more education, more features, or something else. Catching dissatisfaction before they leave is going to help your bottom line.

2. Negative reviews

Stay on top of your reviews and testimonials, both positive and negative. If you’re starting to see negative reviews come in, it’s time to be worried.

Negative reviews not only indicate an unhappy customer, they deter new customers from your business.

If you’re able to pinpoint the specific customer leaving the review, then make sure to follow up with them personally. Reach out to them and see if you can solve their issue (especially if they’re still an active customer). Chances are, if you fix the problem in time, you’ll save that customer, and get a good review out of it!

Make sure that even if you reach out personally, you also reply to the review in public. People will be watching to see how you respond, so keep it cordial and hope for an updated review after the problem is fixed.

3. Heightened customer service usage

We’re not saying using customer service regularly indicates a bad user, or a potentially churning user, but if you start noticing a pattern with one of your customers needing frequent help, you may want to heighten your presence.

If a customer needs frequent help, especially with technically advanced issues, chances are, they’re at risk to churn. If customer service has to find workarounds to make your product work for them, it could be that it’s just not a right fit.

Come up with a system to flag frequent users. You can quickly tell from the chat/email/phone recording if they’re frustrated and upset, or just simply looking to solve a problem. If they’re the former, it’s probably time for a manager to step in and help.

4. Lowered engagement

While this partially ties into #1 on our list, not logging in, there are other ways to track customer engagement.

If you have a dedicated customer base, chances are, they’re very active on your social media sites. Sites like Twitter have made it easy to talk to your customers, and Instagram has made it fun and simple to repost user generated content.

Get with your marketing team and see if there’s a certain customer-base that is often engaging on social media, and track them a little closer.

If Tom is suddenly radio-silent, or Martha stops posting photos with your product, you may be in trouble. Reach out to them and try to re-engage before you lose them.

5. Visits to the cancellation or FAQ page

Depending on how your cancellation process is set up, you can track users checking out the cancellation page or FAQs.

If you have something like Heap or FullStory, you can see your actual customers in action on your website. Set up a funnel to see if certain people are visiting your cancellation page more than once.

If you’re using Google Analytics, you can see if there’s an influx of customers on your cancellation page or FAQ. Keep track of the weekly numbers so you can catch a sudden jump in interest on the page.

This isn’t an exact science, but it should be a decent way to track customer displeasure – and do something about it – before they hit the cancel button.

6. Billing issues aren’t being resolved

If a customer’s payment fails and your dunning campaigns have failed to get the updated card information, it’s time to step it up a notch.

No matter why the card failed in the first place, f you can’t get the customer to step in and update their card, there may be a bigger issue at play.

Maybe your emails aren’t even reaching their inbox, maybe they aren’t trusting your dunning emails, or maybe even they’re using the failed payment to slip away quietly.

No matter the reason, if your customer is coming to the end of your dunning efforts and they haven’t resolved the billing issue, consider stepping in. Make sure you have alerts set up for this so your team can intervene when necessary.

Have customer support reach out to these customers individually (especially if they are a high-value customer). Reach out via live chat or hop on a call. Even if they’ve decided to cancel, you want to double back and make sure that’s why the card hasn’t been updated.

***Yearly Users

It’s important to note that all of these tips can be used for yearly subscriptions as well, but on a longer scale. For example, if someone had a yearly membership, but hasn’t logged in in 6 months, there’s likely a problem.

Yearly customers often make up a small amount of a company’s baseline, but they’re usually the most valuable. Make sure that you’re treating your yearly customers as VIPs, and take note of any of the above signs with them too. You want to keep that subscriber happy year after year.


Once you’ve set up a system to stop churn in its tracks, it’s fairly straightforward from there.

Make a conscious effort to pay attention to your customers and their engagement levels, and you’ll be able to confidently determine if they’re going to stay another month (or year), and prevent them from churning if they’re considering it.

Kristen DeCosta

Author Kristen DeCosta

Kristen is dedicated to educating companies and founders on the importance of customer retention and the dangers of ignoring churn. When she's not busting churn and crafting content, you can find her hiking a mountain or playing with her three rescue pups, Cooper, Tobi, and Finn.

More posts by Kristen DeCosta

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