What is customer churn and how do you deal with it?
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Strategies to reduce customer churn: Here are 12 ways you can reduce customer churn.
61% of respondents noted "generating traffic and leads" as their number one marketing challenge -- and that top priority has stayed consistent over the last three years.
Now, I'm no mind reader, but I'm willing to bet that the struggle to generate new demand for a business can be easily tied back to the struggle to [removed] .
And while reducing churn sounds like a big undertaking, it's one that's definitely worth prioritizing: A 5% increase in [removed] can increase profits by 25% to 95%, [removed]
We'll walk through a few strategies for reducing churn below. But first, let's start by defining the term to establish some common ground.
Customer churn refers to the percentage of customers that ended the use of your company's product or service during a set period of time. It's typically calculated by dividing the number of customers you lost in a quarter by the number of customers you started that quarter with.
Customer churn -- also known as customer attrition -- refers to the rate at which customers who purchase or subscribe to your product or service offering end their relationship with you and stop bringing in revenue for your business.
Let's say, for example, that you started the quarter with 500 customers and lost 25. That would leave you with a churn rate of 5%.
In most cases, this number is noted as a percentage, but as Nadav Dakner of InboundJunction suggests you should state the number in a way that makes the most sense for your business.
[removed] Dakner notes the following as alternative ways to demonstrate customer churn:
Customer Attrition AnalysisCauses of Customer Churn
[removed] can be personal and unique to each customer, but they usually fall under a few common categories:
Price is a common objection for salespeople and customer success managers alike. If customers find a more cost-effective solution to the problem they want to solve, they may churn. This is why it's important to establish value and customer onboarding and education so customers feel that the purchase is worth the cost.
Poor product/market fit is a common reason for customer churn, and speaks to the need for close sales and customer service alignment. If salespeople are hustling to hit quota and aren't incentivized to sell to good-fit customers, the result will be churn within a few months of purchase when the customer realized they can't achieve their goals using your solution.
If the user experience with software or applications is buggy, glitchy, or otherwise difficult for them, they'll be less likely to use it on a regular basis and build expertise with it, making it more likely that they'll stick around.
Finally, if a customer's experience connecting with other aspects of your brand — your marketing content, social media channels, customer support team, and account managers -- isn't positive, they may be likely to churn. Customers want to feel welcomed and valued by communities they support, and if they don't have positive experiences interacting with your company, they won't want to stick around.
While these factors typically cause customer churn, there are few different types of churn you should be aware of as well. In fact, you might be surprised to find that some churn is actually good for your business.
7 Types of Customer Churn
1. Revenue Churn
Revenue churn is slightly different than customer churn, but it's still important to consider when you're analyzing this metric. Revenue churn is the amount of revenue that's lost within a given period. This doesn't necessarily mean you're losing customers, but rather you're not making as much money from your [removed] as you did before.
This can happen if customers downgrade to a cheaper subscription or version of your product. While they're still shopping at your business, they're spending less money than they did before. This is a metric that your customer success team will want to keep a close eye on especially as they monitor your most loyal customers.
2. Competitor Intervention
Every business has its competitors and there's always going to be some customers that will leave you for another company. It's not ideal, but it happens and you can't spend all of your time worrying about it.
It's more important to focus on why these customers are leaving you for your competition. Are they a bad fit for your business? Or, is it something you're doing that's pushing them away?
Once you can figure out the cause, you'll know which customers you should work to keep, and which ones are going to leave your business anyways.
3. Unsuccessful Onboarding
For some businesses, it's common for customer churn to take place at the beginning of the customer journey. That's because these companies typically don't offer an onboarding program that teaches the customer how to use the product or service. That means it's up to the customer to figure out how the product works and how it can meet their needs.
If you're purchasing rice, you'll probably just need a set of directions printed on the side of the box. But, if you're paying thousands of dollars for software that runs your business, you might expect a bit more from your software provider. In these cases, you may even be provided with an onboarding specialist who can teach you how to use the product and how to personalize it for your short- and long-term needs.
4. Desired Feature or Functionality
Customers crave personalized experiences, which means most will expect your brand to create new features or products that solve for their needs. If you have a diverse customer base, some may be disappointed when you roll out a new product or feature that feels irrelevant to their goals. While this new product may be great for the majority of your target audience, there may be a lingering segment that feels your brand is going in a different direction than what they expected.
This is a type of customer churn that isn't always a bad thing. If your brand is in fact going in a new direction, then that may come at the expense of some customer churn. Just be sure to actively monitor your churn rate to ensure it doesn't rise higher than what you initially anticipated.
5. Company Closure
If you're a B2B business, then you may have customers that go out of business or merge with another company. Most of the time, these instances are unavoidable and are part of working in a B2B environment. This is where your [removed] becomes important as it balances out your customer churn rate.
6. Underappreciated Brand Values
Similar to a "bad fit" customer, some people may not align with your brand values. For example, if your company prides itself on providing eco-friendly products, you may come across some people who don't value this manufacturing process. Instead, these customers are more focused on a lower price point and fast delivery process than they are on buying “green” products.
So, do you give in and conform to these customers? Or, stand strong with your brand values?
If you give in, you may save these customers in the short-term. Sure, they'll be happy at first, but what happens when a new competitor undercuts your price and forces you to move further away from your eco-friendly values? Do you continue to drift from what originally made your brand successful?
Customers power your flywheel, but, just like a car, it's important to put the right fuel into your engine. If you conform too much to the wrong segment of your target audience, your brand will suffer over the long haul. Instead, lean into feedback from your most loyal customers, as they'll share a vision that aligns with your brand's values.
7. Plateaued Growth
As your company grows, it changes, too. Your customer base gets bigger, you hire more employees, and you can offer more products and services that appeal to a larger audience.
This type of change is great for your business, but it can sometimes come at the expense of customer churn. For instance, let's say you originally offered a free product that you now realize customers would be willing to pay for if it was packaged with another set of products. While this change will lead to more revenue, you may end up losing customers who only wanted the free product. Now that they'll have to pay for it, they'll move on to another company that doesn't charge them.
This is another example of natural customer churn. Yes, you're losing customers at first, but you're replacing them with new ones who will pay more for your product or service.
With churn coming in many shapes and sizes, it can be difficult to recognize what's natural churn, what's negative churn, and what isn't churn at all. To make sure you're aware of all types happening at your business, read on to learn how you can identify a pattern of customer churn.
How to Identify Customer ChurnEstablish Customer Churn Metrics.
The first step to identifying customer churn is determining what churn means for your company. Depending on your business model, churn may mean the customer cancels a subscription, uninstalls your app, or doesn't return to purchase your product after a certain period of time.
Whatever it is for your business, you'll need a set of metrics to monitor customers that are at risk of leaving your company. That way, you can set clear benchmarks for when you think a customer is about to churn. Once a customer falls below any of those benchmarks, you can reach out to see if there's anything you can do to make them happier.
Gather Customer Feedback.
Sometimes customers will tell you directly when they're unhappy. For example, if you send them an [removed] after a customer service case, customers will provide feedback about their experience with your brand. And, this feedback is both quantitative and qualitative, so you can easily identify which customers are upset with your business and see why they feel that way.
Check-In With Your Customer Success Team.
Rather than waiting for customers to tell you how they feel, you can dispatch your customer success team to find out for you. It's this team's job to monitor individual accounts and reach out to users who are unhappy with their product or service. That way, your team can immediately clear any roadblocks for customers instead of having them reach out to your support team.
Most [removed] will check in regularly with their customers. Even if they don't have a problem to solve, these meetings are great sitreps that provide up-to-date information for how the user is feeling. As more trust is developed during these conversations, customers will be more likely to voice any concerns that may have with your business.
Prioritize Proactive Customer Service.
[removed] means your business is actively trying to identify and solve problems before they affect the customer experience. During this process, it's common to uncover points of friction that you may not have been aware of before. By correcting these issues, you can see how they influence your churn metrics and whether or not they were a significant cause of customer churn.
Monitor Community Forums and Third-Party Review Sites.
Another handy resource you can leverage is your [removed] as well as third-party review sites. Community forums are where your customers come together to talk about your products and services. If you notice the same users bashing your products again and again, then you know these people are at a higher risk of churn than those who are posting positive comments.
The same goes for third-party reviews. The people who give your company the lowest ratings are the ones who are most likely to leave your business. If you can, reply to these reviews and see if you connect with the customer through one of your company's customer support channels.
Now that you know what customer churn looks like at your business, let's talk about what you can do to reduce it.
How to Reduce Customer Churn
1. Lean into your best customers.
For a lot of businesses, solving for churn means identifying a pool of customers that are most likely to cancel, and refocusing your efforts to keep them on board.
However, Sunil Gupta, the Edward W. Carter Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, suggests that this strategy is lacking.
Rather than redirecting time and resources to retaining any customers on the brink of churning, Gupta recommends businesses focus their attention on the most profitable customers on the brink of churning.
In addition to refocusing your efforts towards the most profitable customers, Gupta suggests you consider the likelihood that a customer will respond to your re-engagement initiative -- whether it is a phone call, email, or larger promotional package.
2. Be proactive with communication.
By reaching out to your customers before they need you, you're demonstrating that you're invested in helping them get the most out of your product or service.
But not any old outreach will do. The type of message or resource you send to them should be directly tied to their product or service usage.
For example, if someone signs up for your product or service and you notice that they aren't leveraging all of what's available to them, you might send them a friendly nudge.
After signing up for SEMrush, I received the following email, encouraging me to check out a whole bunch of features I hadn't explored yet:
By surfacing these features early, SEMrush was able to ensure that I wasn't overlooking the tool's capabilities -- helping to keep me both interested and active.
3. Define a roadmap for your new customers.
Getting started with a new product or service can be overwhelming. And if a customer can't figure out how to navigate your product or service right out of the gate, they'll likely lose interest -- fast.
To ease the transition, it's helpful to set up a [removed] process or roadmap to guide new customers through your product or service's features, functionality, and process. This approach makes it easier to manage customer expectations while giving you complete control over the pace at which you're surfacing more information to them.
Customers that feel empowered to achieve success with the help of your business are less likely to leave, so it's important that you're constantly monitoring and iterating on your onboarding process, keeping an eye out for snags or blockers.
This should help you deal with customer churn.