No matter your industry, customer support is always challenging. Buyers across the board want faster, better, and more tailored experiences. And companies are repositioning customer support into a strategic function, with the term “customer success” becoming quite popular. Today’s customer success reps are often strategic sellers and marketers—which means that the need to prevent customer churn is more pressing than ever. If your customer success function is a leaky bucket, all other aspects of your business are likely to hurt too.
Done manually, customer retention can be a tough function to support. How do you give each customer the individualized attention they need to stay on board? How do you respond to every potential sign of a customer losing interest? The short answer is to deploy a strategic mix of real-time personalization, in-app messaging and automation. I interviewed Evergage’s Julie Hayes, Customer Success Manager and SaaS/Tech expert, to get additional insight into how to implement this. Here is her simple framework to guide you.
Step 1: Track actions that lead to churn
There are many reasons that a customer may want to part ways with your company, but it’s not always a mystery. If you look close enough, you can see hidden signals that can predict churn events. There may be product-related issues, challenges with ramp-up, or challenges related to software integration, among others.
According to Julie, the best place to start to reduce churn is to identify the key actions that make your product “sticky.” Which actions or features do your users get the most value from? What makes them want to keep using your product?
Next, track the usage of those features to uncover potential churn risks. Are the users in each account actively using these features? If not, this is a potential indicator that the customer might not be receiving enough value from your product and may churn.
Don’t forget about an obvious churn indicator — visiting a cancellation page or reviewing your terms of cancellation. Make sure that you track which users visit these pages in your product and that you follow up with users that are thinking about churning.
Also, it’s important to use an analytics system that works on all the devices your clients are using. If you don’t, you are missing valuable user data and potential churn risk indicators.
Step 2: Take a cross-functional approach to responding to needs in real time
Customer success doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Every single team in an organization is responsible for making sure that your product provides a great experience in addressing your customers’ needs. Marketing, sales, engineering, and product teams all need to deliver a holistic, supportive experience to your users.
To accomplish this, your data can’t exist in a silo. Combine information regarding the number of support tickets, product usage (or lack of usage), participation in your marketing activities, etc. to get a complete picture of your users. Making it accessible to your customer success, support, sales and exec team members can help ensure maximum attention to issues and churn prevention efforts.
Step 3: Deliver cohesive and personalized experiences
As you collect data on your users, make sure to invest this information into your in-app messaging and off-site targeting campaigns. Make sure that your messages are relevant to each individual to encourage product use and further engagement with your company. Conduct A/B testing to determine optimal in-app messages (based on clickthrough rates) to encourage the use of key features, “how to” guides, and best practice examples, customized by user and account.
An obvious place for a personalized message, of course, is when someone visits your cancellation page, but in-app messaging should be incorporated throughout the user experience, not just there. Frequency of logins, time spent using the application, functions used/not used, support resources used, etc. are all relevant data points for guiding your in-app messaging strategy.
Be sure to create a truly cross-channel experience by personalizing mobile app messages based on desktop or email activity, or desktop activity based on mobile app activity, etc. And use real-time customer data to inform email marketing campaigns (for example, if a person uses your product for one specific use case, don’t send them webinars or whitepapers on irrevelant use cases).
By monitoring churn signals at the user and account level, you’ll be able to respond more proactively. Reduce churn by listening and responding to signals in real time with relevant messaging.