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Reducing customer churn - six success factors

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The aftershocks of the past few years – supply chain disruption, a shrinking workforce, rising costs, and economic uncertainty – have left many businesses struggling to hold on to their customers.

A new report from SugarCRM shows that the UK is facing an average customer churn rate of 33%, with 74% of respondents putting this down to poor customer service or experience. One in three customers taking flight is a huge financial drain on any business at a time when costs are already soaring.

So, what steps can we take to reverse this concerning trend?

Setting new customers up for success from the start of their journey with you, makes them much more likely to stay for the long term. Below are six factors to consider at the start of the customer journey that will help minimise churn later on.

1. Get onboarding right

Retently reports that poor onboarding is now the leading cause of customer churn. If your sales team is driven solely to close new business, there is a risk that once a deal is done, the customer can fall between the gap between sales and operations.

An onboarding process that holds the hand of the customer as they embark on their journey creates a foundation that is more likely to lead to a successful customer-supplier relationship. This includes introducing customers to key personnel, signposting resources that help them get the most from your product or service, and importantly ensuring they know where to go should they have issues or queries.

2. Amp up your understanding

If you don’t understand customer needs or expectations at the start, how can you hope to deliver value and create a positive experience going forward? Gaining a strategic understanding of customer expectations and what success looks like for them is a fundamental cornerstone of a long-term relationship.

A welcome call programme is invaluable at this stage, showing a human face to your brand, capturing insight around customer needs and picking up queries or frustrations before dissatisfaction grows and ultimately leads to churn.

3. Personalise the experience

According to the SugarCRM report, over 80% of marketing leaders believe their churn rate is high because of a lack of communication and personalised, relevant messaging.

Insight captured during the sales or onboarding process should inform the design of the customer experience, whether that is tailoring messaging around challenges faced, accommodating technical requirements, or simply meeting needs in terms of preferred channels. Capturing customer insight within a CRM system also ensures each team can tailor their approach and create a more personal experience. If, for example, someone calls customer service, the agent they speak to can take account of previous issues that customer has raised, improving the overall quality of engagement.

4. Build trust and transparency

Relationships can fail if an authentic connection is not made and trust built from the start. Being open and transparent is an effective way to establish trust and show that you really care about what matters to your customer. A new user of your product/service may need more support than an established customer and may have requests you are not able to accommodate within existing processes. It is important to be open and honest when you can’t help or when mistakes occur so that you create a foundation of trust for the future.

Other ways to build trust include:

  • Delivering on what you promise.

  • Responding promptly.

  • Consistently adhering to company values.

  • Delighting the customer and exceeding their expectations.

5. Measure success

Sugar also reports that a huge 57% of businesses admit they are unable to quantify and track their churn rate effectively. Once you have identified what success looks like for the customer, this needs to be aligned to indicators that measure when your performance falls below expectations at any touchpoint in the customer journey.

This will alert you early so you can put remedies in place before issues escalate and lead to an increase in that all important churn rate.

6. Close the loop

According to Forrester, “Too many companies — especially those that enjoy initial success — ultimately fail because they cannot (or will not) meet their buyers’ evolving needs.”

Taking a snapshot of customer needs at the beginning of their journey is important but this needs to be an ongoing process with a continuous feedback loop. Nothing is worse than onboarding a customer, introducing them to their key contact who they then never hear from again.

A welcome call is only the starting point and should establish a framework for regular check-ins that continue to build the relationship and deliver valuable insight to feed retention.

By providing consistent responsive aftercare, you demonstrate to the customer that you care not just about winning their business in the short-term but their long-term journey with your brand and how you can continue to meet their needs.

Read more about how to minimise churn

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