Using Customer Feedback to Reduce Churn: Thoughts from 9 Leaders
Hear from 9 company leaders about how they approach reducing churn in their enterprise.
With focus and the right priorities, you can work with your team to find not just an antidote to your churn problem, but lasting improvements to your app's features. You'll be able to differentiate your product, and work towards building something that lasts.
Hiten Shah, Improve product focus to reduce churn
Churn is a challenge that all product and customer success leaders deal with and aim to eliminate.
There are many articles and guides out there on how to reduce churn and what to look at when doing so. We feel as though customer feedback is critical to this process and offers a wealth of knowledge, should you ask for it.
We want to help inform your process in trying to reduce churn using feedback by offering advice from product and customer success leaders. To accomplish this, we asked 9 company leaders from companies such as SoftwarePundit, Signaturely and LightTag about how they combat churn.
How These Company Leaders Use Feedback to Reduce Churn
Alan MacLachlan, CEO @ Improves
If you’re lucky enough to get feedback from a customer, you must act on it. Good or bad, it’s your chance to improve the relationship.
If it’s good – say thank you and tell them how much you appreciate it. Make sure you acknowledge it. They have just taken time out to help you, by dropping them a simply reply saying ‘thank you’ it helps build the relationship and vastly increases the potential for future sales and help. The stronger the bond you have with the customer the less likely they are to go elsewhere.
If it’s bad – Do what you can to help them. Make sure they understand you acknowledge the problem even if you can’t do a lot about it. What is important is how you deal with it. Don’t make it hard for a customer to contact you. Clearly go out of your way to help. Offer refunds, replacements but try and go the extra mile where you can. You can turn a bad situation around and give them a positive experience. You might just save the customer.
At the end of the day – think to yourself if you sent the message you have just received to a company. What would you like to happen? That is almost always the best solution for you to follow.
Tal Perry, Founder @ LightTag
We had a big churn problem early on, customers would use our product, reach their goal and then churn. We realized that we had to ask, What value can we bring to you when you're done? Using that question we unlocked two value propositions that were adjacent to our offering, which together increased our average customer lifetime from 3 months to 18 months.
We used to run automated drip campaigns to get users to re-engage, but realized that getting their feedback was more valuable. We've since switched to having a team member manually email a personalized message to each user who didn't activate. This has instilled personal ownership of feedback collection in the team, and the personal touch and extra motivation have uncovered great insights around our top of funnel messaging and clarity of value proposition.
One way of using customer feedback to reduce churn, improve customer experiences, and help a business' growth is to use customer's input to the fullest when developing or redeveloping products and services.
William Cannon, CEO @ Signaturely
Invest in resources, technologies, and integrated sales processes to facilitate the interface between employees and customers. Having a platform that centralizes information and a set of standardized and structured procedures will make customer service and experience much more effective and positive, with the lowest level of friction possible. At the same time, you can use this infrastructure to track customer success metrics and ensure alignment of objectives, frequency of deliveries, and overall satisfaction index.
Connect on LinkedIn: LinkedIn
Julian Goldie, CEO @ Goldie Agency
Technology and automation are great allies, but offline experiences also count. So be close, get in touch frequently, and ask for feedback on the progress of the project. Invest in more face-to-face interaction. Remember that a solid relationship is built over time and your initiative is important. So don't expect your client to come up with a complaint to think about how to serve you better: schedule alignment meetings and relationship meetings. Show your customer that you care about your business and your success. In this way, he will feel unique, well attended, and important to your company sensations that anyone would like to perceive.
Connect on LinkedIn: LinkedIn
Karthik Subramanian, Senior Content Manager @ Picmaker
We are a B2C company, and a lot of our customers use our product once and may not come back for a while. But, what we do is figure out who our top users are, and nurture them enough to appear for a 15-minute interview with us. And, we send them a prepared set of questions such as what features they like using in our product, what would they like more in our product, etc.
Then, we ensure that we:
Capture all their feedback in an excel spreadsheet – We populate an excel spreadsheet with everybody's feedback and share it with our product development, IT, and UI/UX teams so everybody knows what our customers are saying.
Save their videos – All customer interview videos are shared with product development, IT, and UI/UX teams – because no matter how much written feedback we share, videos are extremely powerful. Especially, when somebody is critiquing our product, a video can help get your point across more effectively.
Include their feedback in our sprint – We ensure that when we gather user feedback, we include it in our new product development sprints so that our product evolves in the same way that they want it. As product owners, we are biased and we really don't know what our users want unless we speak with them on a one-on-one basis or through a survey.
Communicate about the new feature launch – Once their desired feature goes live, we send them personalized emails asking them to try it out. If they feel that the new feature isn't still as impactful as they desired, we go back to the drawing board again and fix it until it works fine.
This has helped us reduce churn significantly. We still look at customer usage data, but customer feedback has helped us immensely in the evolution of our product.
Connect on LinkedIn: LinkedIn
Borja Prieto, Head of Growth @ FROGED.com
When using a Product-led Growth approach, customer feedback is critical to help reduce churn.
First, you must define how you're collecting feedback from customers. At FROGED we have 5 'channels':
Features Requests feedback
We ask for feedback when someone cancels its account (cancellation flow)
Customer Success and Support teams feedback
You have to analyze that feedback, find the most important friction points, and give them a solution.
If you manage to solve those situations that generate friction for your users, you'll eventually see how your churn rate is reduced for those reasons.
Example: You might notice a pattern from your users asking for a specific feature they expect within your product, and a significant percentage of those users start to churn. If you listen to your customers, develop that feature the way they want it, you'll see less churn because of it..
Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer @ avXperten
Having a high customer churn rate only means that your customers are no longer happy with your product and service. Though improving your overall customer experience and retention strategies are good actions to take, it’s best for you to get to the root of the problem so you can really focus on it. One of the best ways to identify these areas is by asking your customers themselves. Companies should make the most out of the available channels they have and constantly ask their customers how they perceive their product or service. Interacting with your customers and being attentive to them can help you serve them better and reduce churn.
Connect on LinkedIn: LinkedIn
Charles Edge, CTO @ Bootstrappers
I’ve been in a number of product roles at organizations, both to instigate the development of products and to act as a sherpa to keep our products safe. Now I advise lots of products at lots of companies. There are a lot of statistics we can put on tickets and surveys that come out of customer success teams, with Net Promoter maybe being the most common. But while the stats are important, every growing support organization really needs to make sure to:
Provide a button on a ticket to send feedback to a product manager. Keep in mind that tickets can be long, windy threads. Especially if they involve bugs, or defects, so this should include a required summary before sending.
Automate a ticket moving into the development system as a defect or attach to an existing defect to increase the score of the defect used in the development organization.
Include a leader from the CX organization in Customer Advisory Boards (CABs).
Have a routine session between leaders in CX and leaders in product to specifically look for ways to reduce support costs. This isn’t as much about reducing cost (although everyone likes that) it’s about the customer not having to reach out for support in the first place, and so being happier.
Bruce Hogan, CEO @ SoftwarePundit
We use customer feedback to reduce churn by organizing the tickets we receive into categories by product and feature. Each quarter, when we're prioritizing our projects, we review this customer feedback and decide which issues we want to address. Typically, we address issues that are the most common and the most severe. The key is to ensure that customer experience teams are working closely with product teams.
For example, in the past, our mobile experience had several dead-ends. Visitors to our website could get stuck on a page if they tried to use specific parts of our navigation on mobile. We consistently heard this feedback over a few quarters, and the associated feedback was pretty negative. As a result, we decided to address this issue, and saw our conversion rate on mobile decrease. This also led to a decrease in customer churn.
Natalya Bucuy, Content Marketer @ LiveHelpNow
For example, this year LiveHelpNow is launching a new operator's panel, with additional features and updated design. Before we release the updates to all of our clients we are conducting extensive beta testing of the new features with a handful of customers. We ask questions, get our customers to tell us what they like and dislike, what goes smoothly and what needs improvement.
Then we take that feedback to the drawing board and do what our customers want us to do. We use their feedback of their experiences in further development, improvement, and designs of the software. That is a great way of putting customers and their needs first. Not only does that improve our product, it gives our customers a sense of true participation in our brand. And that, in turn, creates and strengthens customer loyalty.
How You Can Use Feedback to Reduce Churn
Here are the common sentiments echoed from these company leaders:
Talk to your customers. They like feeling that they’re being heard and not just a number in a line of other users. Creating a connection is a good way to get genuine feedback. In addition, let them know once you’ve shipped a feature that they requested.
Organize your customer feedback. Your time is valuable, and you want to be hitting those major pain points that are causing severe friction with your customers. You can find out how to do this here.
Tackle the root of the problem, not the problem itself. Make sure you are getting a look at the full picture when looking at customer feedback. Gather as much information from as many different teams as you can, and spend some time analyzing the issues. Once you have a full understanding, delve into prioritizing fixes and features.
Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.