Building a retention department is the natural progression of every company. This is because study after study proves that while existing customers hate dunning emails and automated solutions for customer retention, they do respond to personal outreach that only a retention department can provide.
For small businesses, startups, SaaS, and subscription boxes, reducing customer churn can be frustrating and challenging. One of the biggest roadblocks for SaaS companies working to improve their retention can be that it’s an issue with ripple effects throughout your entire company.
While putting together a retention department is a natural way to combat churn, that’s something many new and fast-growing businesses can’t afford as they’re investing more heavily in growth and scale.
Because churn involves every aspect of your business, it’s worth aligning your existing customer experience around retention. It’s important to retain a high customer retention percentage and satisfy the customers you already have as it’s less costly to keep those number of customers happy. Customer acquisition cost is generally higher than the cost of maintaining them. This means more profit added to your bottom line.
So, what can you do to improve your customer retention? Here are some statistics to give you some benchmark:
1. Forrester Research, Inc. found that 69% of people surveyed said they choose to shop more frequently at retailers with consistent customer service.
2. Forrester also found that the most important thing a company can do to provide a quality customer service experience (according to 66% of people asked) is to value customer time.
3. PWC found that 32% of the people they asked said that consumers would stop doing business with a brand or company they’d previously loved after just one bad experience.
4. Not only does providing a great experience help you to keep customers, but you can change your pricing and charge more for your service. According to PWC, companies that are excellent at creating brilliant customer experiences charge a 16% higher rate or premium on their services.
5. More than half (54%) of survey respondents said that companies need to better provide a good customer experience.
6. A survey from the Temkin Group shows that bad news isn’t the only thing that travels fast. They found that 77% of customers would recommend a company to a friend where they’ve had a great experience.
7. Not only are satisfied customers less likely to cancel a subscription, but McKinsey also found that happy customers are also willing to add services or upgrade their existing packages.
So, to summarize, if you give your customers quick, high-quality, consistent customer service – handled by customer service representatives who value customer satisfaction and concerns – you’re well on your way to achieving higher customer retention without hiring any new employees or building a retention department with retention specialists.
It’s not as simple as that, though. Implementing this information and data into a coherent plan using your current capability and existing human resources remains a challenge for most companies.
You have to embed a culture of customer retention in your company to reduce churn. Your subscription churn strategy should include how each department will include retention into how they work. Different departments will have different ideas about what customer retention means. You need to gather all this information and have a way of drilling down to include it in your churn strategy. Everyone in your company should be focused on getting new customers as well as retaining them and reducing churn.
Marketing plays a central role in retention. Their task is to speak to the ideal user and never wavering in their focus to creating on-target copy for the new customers. High-quality leads are born out of a precise client targeting that fits the ideal user. They are also responsible for creating content and helpful resources to keep them with the company for a longer-term, resulting in a better retention rate and customer loyalty.
From the top of your funnel, it’s possible to establish a retention-centric approach to your business. Thinking about the kinds of leads optimally suited to your product from the beginning is a great way to set a focus that will impact every level of your business.
With retention in mind and strong buyer personas set, you can drill down into your marketing in a more targeted way. Essentially, your goal here is to find areas where you aren’t speaking directly to the right customers.
Take a look at the audiences you choose for Facebook and Google ads, the tone of your advertisements, social media presence, and content marketing, and the broader campaigns you run. Within these elements, consider developing content explicitly aimed at the different personas you’ve chosen.
As one of the front-facing departments in a company, Sales plays a significant role in retention. The sales process, their decisions, and the handling of customers will determine the nature of your subscriber base. If the sales department targets users that are not a good fit for the product, this will affect your bottom line, and your company will see cancellations, huge churn rates, and dwindling profitability.
The sales team should have an intimate understanding of the companies ideal user their pain points and focus on new customers that will have a longer lifetime value from the very beginning.
Cash from customers with no real need for your product will only lead to problems and hog the much-needed resources used to create customer loyalty for your intended customers.
Spend some time getting a sense of the kinds of customers you will best be able to serve. While bad-fit leads can bolster your numbers in the short-term, in the long run, they are significantly more likely to churn.
Essentially, what you’re doing here is focusing on the lifetime value of a customer rather than the initial numbers of a sale. By encouraging your team to focus on the customer’s long-term value, you’re investing in the kinds of customers that will bring in the most revenue with the least hassle over time.
In your company, the customer support representatives will have a better feel for your customers as they are involved in building relationships with users. They are the de facto retention department as they are the most consistently actively engaged with clients. They can be involved in implementing retention strategies while collecting feedback from clients. They will have the best insight on how to create customer loyalty and handle retention issues.
Customer retention is significantly more difficult when users don’t feel listened to or valued by a company. At the same time, customers who feel like their input have a meaningful impact on the product are far more likely to stay with you long-term and spread your company’s positive image to others. It will also prevent your CS from being overrun with questions from users poorly suited to the product in the long-run.
Your customer service team is the frontline of your churn efforts, and without clear, consistent, open communication on their end, none of the other teams will have a good sense of what’s happening on the ground.
In the broader scheme of retention, every department in your company plays a role in preventing customer churn. Every part should be aware of their responsibilities in keeping existing customers.
You may not be able to cover every single base internally when you’re building your retention department, and that’s okay. Third-party services like Gravy are a great way to build a retention department without hiring any new employees,
A good rule of thumb here: ask yourself if the issue you’re trying to solve ties directly to customer retention. If it is, it can be worth looking to an outside tool to supplement your efforts.
The key here is not to overburden your team. There are aspects of your business that can be handled more naturally by external service- find them and streamline your operations.
Gravy offers a middle ground between automation and hiring in-house. Companies contract with Gravy on a subscription basis based upon transaction volume. Gravy then integrates with the client’s payment products and processor. The result is that Gravy’s team feels like a part of the business itself, not some contract workforce.