Improving the Offboarding Experience to Turn Customer Churn into Opportunity
If your business is subscription based, or you’re a SaaS company, customer acquisition is everything.
There’s nothing more exciting than gaining your first customer, and that feeling doesn’t really reduce when you’re on your hundredth, thousandth, or millionth customer.
However, there is an inevitable flip side of customer acquisition: Customer churn.
Customer churn refers to the number of customers you lose over a certain amount of time. This number obviously needs to be much lower than the number of customers you’re acquiring at any given time. If you find that you’re losing more customers than you’re bringing in, your business is on its way out.
Sometimes, customers leave for reasons totally unrelated to your product or service. It may be because they can no longer afford to subscribe, or that they’ve finished the project in which they needed your services.
But there are also other reasons why a customer leaves that can be directly related to your product. Perhaps you’ve raised the prices and they can no longer afford it. Maybe you’ve moved your focus to other areas of your service that they don’t use. They could possibly have had a bad experience with your customer support team, or simply don’t agree with the way you run your business.
Whatever the reasoning, there is value in customer churn. Feedback from customers can help you to improve services for your future customers, generate fresh leads or even find a resolution to stop the customer from leaving.
And that’s where customer offboarding comes in.
There’s a lot to be learned from your customer churn, and it needs as much focus as your customer acquisition strategy.
In this post, you’ll learn just how important customer offboarding is, and how you can implement the process in your business.
The importance of the offboarding experience
Offboarding has always been a thing for employees.
When a member of staff resigns from a position, during their notice period they’ll be offered an exit interview.
This interview usually gives the company a chance to ask questions about why the employee is leaving. It also gives the employee the chance to provide feedback on what the company is like to work with.
Usually, this helps the business understand what they’re doing well, and where there’s room for improvement.
Overall, exit interviews are a time to reflect and usually leave the employer and employee feeling like they’ve settled any issues and are ready to move forward.
So why isn’t the same done for customers?
As mentioned above, customer churn is inevitable. But by creating an offboarding experience for your customers, such as making an offboarding video, you can find out what they like about your service, what they don’t like, and what would have stopped them from leaving.
All of this feedback is incredibly valuable for customer retention. If you can use feedback from customers to improve your services or simply market them to different audiences, you can not only keep the customers you’ve already got but acquire new leads too.
For those customers that have left for reasons unrelated to your product, you can ask for feedback about the product, your service and perhaps even grab a testimonial for your marketing.
Creating an offboarding experience with The Peak-End Rule in mind
When you think back to the products and services you’ve used, what stands out?
For most people, there will be two key moments that they instantly think of: The time when they were really enjoying the product/service, and the time when they stopped using the product or service.
This is known as the peak-end rule.
Implementing a killer customer offboarding system can help you to resonate with your customers in a positive way. Meaning even though they’re no longer in need of your services, they may recommend you to others. (And as you probably know, people are 90% more likely to use a service recommended to them, rather than finding one for themselves.)
But how can you do it?
How to improve your offboarding process and turn customer churn into an opportunity
Below are a few tips to help you create a great offboarding process for your customers. With the right questions and offers, you could find yourself changing their mind – or at the very least, gaining a good review from them.
There is an important thing to remember, though. With any offboarding system, you need to set realistic expectations. If a customer has already stopped using your service, there’s very little reason for them to give you their time for feedback. So don’t expect every customer to be filling in your survey, leaving reviews, and helping you out.
Return is probably going to be minimal. But the feedback from just one customer could be enough to make you change how you operate for the better.
So, here are a few ways to improve, or create your offboarding process.
Create a smooth offboarding flow
No matter which communication platform you choose, you need to make it as simple and easy as possible for the customer. Your offboarding process should be a seamless experience for the customer, whether it is over the phone, via email, or via an online survey. If they have to jump through lots of hoops to provide you the feedback you’re looking for, they’ll disengage and you’ll be left with half filled out questionnaires, low returns, and disgruntled past customers.
If you’re a SaaS or subscription-based business, it’s likely customers will cancel their subscription but continue to use the service until the end date. As such, this gives you a little leeway to create a smooth offboarding transition.
Creating a simple email, sent from someone high up in the business, could be enough to peak their interest. Replying to the email is quick and easy – meaning there’s no real effort needed on their end. If this is sent once they’ve canceled their subscription, while they are still using the product, you may find people much more willing to answer.
If you’re using a questionnaire, questions should be multiple choice with a text box for other comments. This makes it easy for the customer to whizz through the questions without having to type out different answers. It also helps you analyze the information, as every customer’s answer will be similar.
Phone calls are a little trickier, as you’ll likely need to send an email prior to requesting the call. If someone accepts the request, keep questions short and your tone of voice positive.
Set up low usage triggers in advance
The offboarding process can also be used to stop customers from leaving altogether.
Using the right technology, you can monitor how frequently your customers are actually using your service – ultimately giving you a little insight into those customers likely to leave.
By setting up low usage triggers, you can reach out to your clients to see if there are any issues, or whether they need help. Sometimes, the product may be too complicated or no longer fit for their needs. But you won’t find this information out usually until after they’ve canceled their subscription.
According to Esteban Kolsky, the founder of ThinkJar, just 1 in 26 customers make a complaint when they’re unhappy or struggling. So why not take the opportunity to reach out while you can, rather than accepting the preventable loss of 25 customers?
Instead of leaving it to fate, take a proactive approach and reach out to any customers that don’t seem to be using your product as much as they used to. It may be for a completely valid reason that you can fix – ultimately meaning you’ll improve your customer retention.
Ask your customers why they want to leave
There are two ways to ask your customers why they want to leave: Through a series of multiple-choice questions, or through one open ended question.
If you’re just starting out with your offboarding process, it may be better to work with an open-ended question. Once you’ve gained more insight into why customers are leaving, you could then turn this into a series of multiple options for customers to choose from.
Another way of rewording this vital question is ‘is there something we could have done better to make you stay?’ This still asks the same question but shows a more caring side by showing you're open to a conversation. It shows your business is interested in learning how to better themselves if not for this particular customer, but for the next.
Give your customers options to pause, downgrade, or cancel their membership
Sometimes, customers leave because they can no longer afford the service. Other times, they may find that they’re no longer using your product as much as they used to. But this doesn’t need to result in a permanent cancellation.
Create more accommodating options for your strapped-for-cash customers by allowing them to choose from pausing, downgrading, or canceling their membership at any time.
If someone isn’t currently using the product (as shown by your low usage triggers), they may benefit from pausing their subscription until they’re ready to use the service again. This is especially helpful for customers that need to input a lot of data into your product or service. By pausing their account, all their information will be stored securely for when they come back – giving them no reason to look around for other services when the time comes.
If your low usage triggers are set up properly, you may even be able to see which areas of your service the customer isn’t using. From this, you may be able to offer a downgrade.
But, of course, do not force a customer’s hand. If they want to cancel entirely, they’re absolutely in their right to do so. The cancellation process should be simple and easy, not over-complicated in the hope to stop customers from leaving...
Providing these options could be set up within their account settings or during the offboarding conversation.
Quantify the value that they’d lose
There is a fine line between showing value and guilt tripping. You don’t want to look like you’re begging for a customer to stay, but there’s no harm in subtly showing them the value they’ll lose by canceling.
When a customer first looks into signing up for your service, they’ll make sure to check out all the information about the features and services you offer. But once they start actually using your product, they’ll likely fall into the habit of only using a select few features.
Offboarding is another opportunity to remind them of all the great things they can do with their subscription – as they may have simply forgotten about certain functionalities. You never know, a recent update or new feature may be exactly what they’ve been looking for – they just weren’t aware you offered it!
But how do you quantify value without overbearing the customer?
The best way is to direct them to your knowledge base, or helpful articles about your service. This allows them to decide how they move forward.
Make improvements based on the gaps you discover
And why are you making all this effort to gain feedback from past customers? To make improvements for the future, of course.
If you can leverage the information provided in your offboarding process, to better your service for current and future users, you may find yourself needing the offboarding process much less frequently! The more information you can gather from users, the better you’ll be at providing people with what they want.
These improvements may be to your actual product or the overall customer experience. Some customers may have felt your customer service was lacking, causing them to leave for one of your competitors.
In fact, a huge 70% of customers leave service due to poor customer service, rather than a reason relating to the product itself. Although you may not be able to win that particular user back, you can certainly look into improving your customer service. This can be done through training, bringing in new staff, or simply offering customers more touchpoints for help.
If your business only offers a ticketing system for customer support, this may be a barrier for users. Nowadays, brands are looking for a real-time, quick solution to their problems, so they can get back to business. Offering live-chat support can help you to stay on the good side of your customers, and keep them coming back for more.
Say goodbye with a positive attitude
Referring back to the Peak-End rule, you need to make sure your customers – however, frustrated they seem at first – leave on a good note.
The whole onboarding system should be bursting with positivity and helpful information. So that even if they don’t feel like your product is a good fit for their business anymore, they still leave feeling satisfied.
The last thing you want is a customer leaving and feeling annoyed.
It’s human nature to talk more about the negative than the positive – meaning a bad offboarding experience could lead to a negative review being left online. According to Reputation Refinery, a massive 96% of disgruntled customers will go on to tell at least 15 people about their experience. And that’s 15 people you won’t be gaining custom from...
So, although customer churn is inevitable, there are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage. Not every customer leaving is voluntary. Sometimes there are involuntary circumstances that prevent a customer continuing their business with you. Book a call with Gravy today to see how our team can help you recover your lost revenue
If you really want to take your business to the next level, the key is listening to customers – new and old. You need to be able to identify what has gone well, and what has gone wrong in the past in order to pave the way to a brighter future.