Article | 3 min read

Save the day with a churn survey

By Andrew Gori

Last updated August 28, 2017

“It’s not you, it’s me.” Anyone who has been dumped in a personal relationship has probably heard some variant of that statement and found it less than helpful (to put it charitably). But when a customer breaks up with your business, there is a silver lining: the churn survey.

Churn surveys elicit feedback from customers cancelling or downgrading service with your company, providing an excellent opportunity to discover areas that could stand improvement to prevent more churn. Is it your level of service, is the product hard to use, or does the customer simply not want to use it anymore? A carefully constructed churn survey can help you identify major factors in your churn rate and decide where you need to focus as your business moves ahead.

Question time

Churn surveys are only as good as their questions—specifically fixed-answer questions, which will help you sort and analyse responses related directly to churn. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give customers an opportunity to provide more detail. Be sure to include an open-ended question so they can comment on things not covered by your fixed-answer queries. Giving your customers more freedom with their answers could provide better indication to why churn is occurring.


Are your customers cancelling SaaS services because of persistent bugs? Or ending their subscriptions because of dissatisfaction with your level of service? Do they no longer need your product, or have they found an alternative that’s lower price or has greater functionality? Getting the answers to these questions will help you generate solutions for mitigating churn, whether it’s adding new features to your product or coming up with new, inventive ways to use your service. This won’t just increase retention; it can attract new customers as well. However, you’ll also want to dissect the metrics based on other criteria—for example, do certain subscription plans or products see a higher churn rate, and when does customer churn typically occur?

Although gathering information from a churn survey can be instructive on its own, it becomes even more powerful when you compare it with other sources of customer feedback. You’ll want to look for patterns in the results of Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, which measure customer satisfaction levels to an exact metric, and also look at other data related to churn, such as in-app user behaviour and support tickets.

Once you’ve collected your data (remember, it’s an ongoing effort, so be prepared to tweak your churn survey to get even richer information), try organising it with tags. Here’s a three-step way to organise your churn survey results:

Type of issue

This can include feature requests, product pain (such as UX issues), billing problems, bugs, and poor product documentation; any particular culprit of churn that stands out.

Product area

You’ll want to categorize complaints based on which part (or parts) have been giving customers the most trouble. Are your customers frustrated by lack of third-party app integration, or do they find the admin panel confusing? This can reveal patterns in churn rates.

Feature name

Once you start to notice a support trend in a product area, create feature name tags so you can get more specific about feature requests or parts of your product your customers find difficult to use.

Understanding these patterns and utilising them in a churn survey will give your team valuable insights that will help shape your company’s future: what you build, what you improve, and most important, how you can retain your valued customers.