One of the harshest truths in business is that it’s probable — sooner or later — that your customers will leave you for someone else. Maybe your products and services just aren’t a good fit for them anymore. Or, maybe you don’t have as responsive and personal customer service as you could. Perhaps one of those hip, new startups — with their wantonly disruptive marketing campaigns — are encouraging your customers to play the field, and see what else is out there. Before you know it, you’ve been dumped.
Or, to use the proper business terminology, your “churn rate” has increased.
It’s hard not to take something like that personally. Deep down, you need to know what went wrong. Was it something you did, or was it all about them? There’s only one way to find out. It’s time to tackle your customer churn rate.
On a technical level, churn rate is extremely easy to understand. It’s a measurement of attrition, or how many customers your company has lost over a given period of time. If 92% of your customers renew their annual subscriptions, but the rest don’t, your company has an 8% annual churn rate. If your churn rate is increasing — or if it’s just high to begin with — that’s a strong indication that there’s a bigger problem.
While some percentage of customer churn is inevitable, the goal should always be to retain as many of your current customers as possible. By investigating the root causes of customer churn, you can begin to craft strategies for reducing churn and increasing customer retention. The trick is to know what you’re looking for.
Let’s take a look at four questions to consider as you begin tackling customer churn at your company:
When a product or service closely aligns with the needs of the customer, it has good “product/market fit.” Customer needs always change over time, of course, and to keep that fit tight, those products and services need to adapt. In the days of home video rentals, Blockbuster Video had a near-perfect product/market fit, for example, allowing them to utterly dominate the national video rental market. That company’s refusal to adapt to changing product/market fit in the streaming age — they famously turned down an offer to buy Netflix for just $50 million — is now a cautionary business tale. Chances are that Blockbuster’s analysts were aware of their skyrocketing churn rate. The company ignored those giant, flashing warning signs until it was too late.
One of the most obvious reasons for a high customer churn rate is poor customer support. Customer support is a notoriously difficult operation to scale up as a company grows. This is particularly true without the right CRM tools. It’s all-too-easy for decision makers to focus on the wrong metrics. Companies may try to optimize things like average call lengths, which customers don’t care about at all, instead of employee training, CRM usability, or overall customer satisfaction. If your customers can’t get the help they need from your support team, why wouldn’t they switch to a more responsive provider?
It can be easy to forget just how many of your customers truly depend on the things your company provides. That’s true no matter what products or services your company sells. Your customers have every right to expect a certain level of value from their purchase. If the company changes something to alter the value of their purchase — perhaps making it less secure, reliable, or cost-effective — it’s not hard to see why those customers would go elsewhere. If churn is increasing, it may be that your company isn’t delivering the same level of value that it once did.
Your company’s competitors are willing to spend a lot of time and money convincing your customers to dump you.
Your competition is:
Your competition may even know exactly how much it costs to acquire one of your customers. How? By using detailed cost-per-acquisition analysis. If you want to keep your customers, you need to be ready to fight for them. You need to use every engagement tool at your disposal like your competition is. Even a relatively simple engagement strategy can make a huge difference over time. For instance, a marketing automation drip campaign for customers at the highest risk of churn can make an impact.
Remember: You want to keep your current customers as satisfied as possible over the long term. The happier your customers are, the more they will tend to stick around, renewing their orders, subscriptions, and contracts.
At Faye, we’ve helped countless companies identify and resolve the underlying causes of their high churn rates. To learn more about how we can help your business, contact us today for a free consultation.