Turn the churn around: how to reduce customer churn

By Brett Grossfeld

Published January 3, 2018
Last updated January 3, 2018

“Customer churn” is one of those metrics that we learn to live with it, even when it invokes that (necessary) fear of failure in us. The reasons why a customer would want to end or suspend their service are long and varied… and they won’t always be ones that are in your control. Your client’s business might be restructured in a way where your product doesn’t quite fit, or they might close up shop.

But when customer churn happens because your customer feels let down? That’s what needs to be mitigated, and what you definitely can.

Learning to be cognisant of what can be controlled with customer churn is how to reduce it. Here are a few steps to better prepare for keeping those “thanks, but no thanks” replies at bay.

Analyse the feedback… all of it

Look to every potential source where there could be valuable feedback on your company’s service, product, and/or brand. These can include:

  • Listening to the trends discovered by your customer service representatives
  • Comments left on social media
  • Reactions from other professionals at industry events
  • Community forums

Keeping a finger to the pulse of your company means listening as much as possible. Listen to what others are saying about your competition as well – while it may not get you to the root causes of your customer churn, hearing the rumblings about your rivals may provide some extra (and valuable) context as to why it’s occurring.

Use a customer churn survey

To really get to the bottom of why a customer is leaving, use a customer churn survey. This is an excellent way to get specific customer feedback, especially if you’re a subscription-based business, that can prompt customers to tell you why they’re canceling their account. From the survey data, you can create a detailed report of your churn activity.

There are a few ways to accomplish this: it can be done within the user interface during the cancellation process or as a follow-up email request after they’ve canceled. The former method will lead to a much higher response rate than a sent email (which might go directly to spam if your customer is really done with you), so taking the time to embed the survey in the user interface is worthwhile.

Implement a churn-reduction strategy

From the customer churn survey data and the feedback you’ve acquired, you should have the information you need to create an actionable strategy for reducing customer churn. This data can support things like your product roadmap or brand messaging, or even for quicker fixes like filling information gaps in your training materials.

It’s also not a bad idea to experiment with some smaller scale strategies to see what sticks. Pick an area that could use improvement and determine how it can be measured, and set a reasonable goal for a drop in your churn rate percentage. This will help influence bigger-scale initiatives for reducing customer churn.

When you’re ready for large-scale churn-reduction strategy, it’s all hands on deck. The responsibility of measuring and reducing customer churn doesn’t fall on any single department; it’s a company-wide initiative. If the needs of your customers are evolving, it’s up to everyone recognise it and support each other’s efforts.