It’s no secret that customer retention is more vital to subscription-based businesses than just about any growth metric. If your customer turnover is high, your acquisition rate has to outpace the churn just to break even. You’re on a treadmill, not a track. And the more you grow, the harder it is to outpace a high churn rate. That treadmill just moves faster and faster.

This is why getting a handle on customer churn as you scale is vital to any sort of stable, meaningful growth.

Easier said than done? It doesn’t have to be pulling teeth to start making some positive, impactful changes. Here are 7 easy ways you can prevent customer turnover.

1. Create a Customer-Centric Culture

Any business, no matter the industry, simply won’t thrive without successful customers. You can survive, for a while, but the companies who become long-standing industry leaders are the ones who put their customers’ needs first. And this can’t happen if the only people focused on this are in customer support or success roles.

A customer-centric culture is a company-wide way of thinking:

  • Your product roadmap should have a proper balance between new features that will acquire new users and improving/fixing features your current customers really need. And the latter should usually be a higher priority.
  • Content marketing shouldn’t simply focus on driving traffic and sign-ups, but rather teaching people, sharing knowledge, and elevating the space with your expertise.
  • Sales shouldn’t be selling to anyone with a credit card, but rather only to leads who are best-fit to get proper value from your product.

In short, customer success isn’t any one person’s or one department’s job. The companies who have the most loyal, successful, and happiest customers are the ones who have engrained customer success in the culture of every department.

Create a shared mission to provide the best, most valuable experience possible, and you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

2. Educate At Every Stage

Customer success is driven by customer knowledge. The more they understand their issue and your solution, the more potential they have to succeed. But, this doesn’t mean shove your sales pitch down their throat over and over.

The point here is to empower your customers to be successful with your product at any given stage of their lifecycle. Let them be the hero. Here are some examples:

  • Improve your onboarding: Create a thorough onboarding experience that educates new users and shows them the roadmap to success. Once your product becomes a part of their daily workflow, they’re unlikely to churn. Setting clear expectations up from may be the most important step in preventing customer turnover.
  • Create resources for your customers: Content is great for acquisition, but don’t forget to serve your current customers as well. Your internal learning never stops, and you should consistently share new knowledge with current customers. Maybe it’s a new feature they can leverage, but often it may be something new happening in the space, or a new problem that’s emerged, or even a new solution to an old problem. Create processes to document your team’s wealth of knowledge, and make it accessible.
  • Utilize live chat: Use live chat to send product updates, feature announcements, and helpful tips and tricks.
  • Build a community: Create forums or groups where your customers can interact and learn from each other and you.
  • Switch up the format: Offer webinars for existing customers for a more hands-on approach to education. This could be in the form of expanding someone’s understanding of everything they can accomplish with your product (particularly if it’s a complex product). Or, could simply be an opportunity to educate them about the space, and reinforce your expertise while providing a service.
  • Bring in the experts: Interview experts in your industry. Podcasts are fantastic for this, but if you’re not equipped to do so, written interviews for your blog are also great. It’s a chance to provide your customers with outside advice and will show your commitment to providing the most useful user experience. Plus, you’ll learn something too!

3. Be Proactive

Don’t fall into the fear trap! The fear trap leads companies to hold off on proactive communication, worried that their customers may think twice about your value if you continually remind them you exist.

This trap leads companies to only engage with their customers is when they’re attempting to upgrade a customer or when a problem arises. If you want to reduce customer turnover, you need to be talking with your customers well before either of these things happen.

Set up systems to stay in front of your customers. You can create a content delivery calendar, in-app messages, or automated email campaigns to keep up proactive communication. Consider sending personal notes to high-value customers to keep those important relationships alive.

4. Leverage Successful Customers

Your own customers are a very powerful tool for preventing customer turnover. As you build a community of highly-successful accounts, you can begin to lean into them as social proof.

Social proof is a powerful tool, and users will find inspiration through high-success accounts on your platform. Highlight your most successful customers through case studies, testimonials, and reviews then share them with your entire base.

Here’s a great example from Shopify:

This is an image on the Churn Buster blog, specifically on a post about preventing customer turnover. This post "7 Ways to Prevent Customer Turnover" addresses different ways saas companies can increase customer retention and reduce churn. This is an image of a blog post on Shopify highlighting a successful customer.

Don’t be afraid to ask those customers for referrals, social promotion, and word-of-mouth boosts. Your most successful customers will understand the true value of your product and you can leverage this. If you’ve built solid relationships, ask for the referral. More often than not, they’ll be excited to spread the word.

5. Create Retention-Focused Pricing Tiers

Your pricing should be designed to retain customers, not to upgrade as many as possible.

Rather than limiting features in order to increase upselling opportunities, design your tiers to provide as much value as possible at every stage. Your job is to understand what every kind of customer will need, and serve them accordingly. Do this right, and your customer turnover is sure to decrease.

Further reading: How Smart Pricing Tiers Improve Retention (and eliminate upsell friction)

6. Eliminate Involuntary Churn

Believe it or not, reducing customer turnover due to failed credit card payments is actually the easiest and fastest way to slash your overall churn.

Involuntary churn happens when a billing issue fails to be solved, and the customer ultimately churns. Billing issues may not seem like a big deal, but involuntary churn can be a silent killer for your company if it’s not handled well.

We say silent killer, because companies rarely have the visibility to even know how big of a problem this is until it’s huge. It’s not rare for us to see up to half of a company’s overall churn attributed to failed payments.

Additionally, the customers churning aren’t (inherently) unhappy with the product, so you won’t hear a large volume of complaints coming through your support desk. Customers just sort of…vanish.

The good news is that we know a solid dunning system should be able to recover 70%+ of customers who churn due to failed credit cards. This may not be the sexiest part of your business (although we’d beg to differ (wink emoji) ), but it’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll be hard-pressed to find an easier or more impactful hole to plug.

When you’re ready, here are some simple tips on setting up a solid dunning process.

7. Ask exit questions

A cancellation isn’t the end of the road. Churned customers are invaluable to your future. They key is to use insights from lost customers to improve, then predict and squash future customer churn.

Don’t let good customers disappear silently into the night. Find out why they’re leaving. Use cohort tables to find patterns in your churn. When do customers most often churn? What similarities do they have? What frustrated them about your product? Where did they feel lost? How did you fall short in helping?

When you can answer even some of these questions you’ll be able to spot predictable trends and see churn before it happens.


 

Remember, you’re on a treadmill not a track. There is no final destination for your users, so your job is to create an enjoyable and successful journey. Build positive relationships, stay top of mind, center yourself around customer success and you’ll be on path to churn-proof your product.

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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