Director of Customer Success
Customer acquisition is a critical part of any successful business strategy. But it can be just as important—if not more important—to keep those customers satisfied in the long run.
By now, you’ve likely heard statistics about how much it costs to acquire new customers versus the (lower) costs of keeping the ones you already have.
Depending on who you ask, it can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive.
Aside from the financial aspect, being able to retain your customers is a critical step in ensuring that your business stays thriving and competitive.
As an added bonus, all those delighted customers will bolster your reputation, which tends to result in a natural boost in new business.
So what I’m trying to say is: it’s a win-win no matter how that cookie crumbles.
In this article, you’ll learn strategies for how to stop losing customers including:
- Knowing what a “healthy” customer looks like
- Recognizing why you lost previous customers
- Understanding each customer’s goals and needs well
- Setting realistic expectations about your product or service
- Nailing Sales-to-Customer-Success handoffs
- Empowering your customers with educational resources
Let’s explore how you can stop losing customers and reduce your churn rate.
1. Know what a “healthy” customer looks like
If you want to be proactive about keeping customers, you should have a solid grasp on what a “healthy” customer looks like for your business.
As each customer progresses through their customer journey, this will naturally evolve and become more complex.
In the beginning, keep it simple. For example, a healthy Copper customer will typically have:
- Set up the system through a successful onboarding process
- Added existing contacts and deals that their team is working on
- Started updating existing deals and adding new ones as they develop
- Used Copper on a daily basis, often multiple times a day among various team members
- Created and downloaded reports at least once a month
In general, following this basic path is how we know that a company is embracing Copper, and that we’ve supported and educated them enough for them to be able to get what they want out of the product.
We’ve also broken this down into more detailed pathways based on elements like initial user goals and customer journey stages.
- Once you know what a healthy customer looks like from several angles, you can use this information as a benchmark to guide other customers and reduce churn.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Recognize why you lost previous customers
Overall, it’s actually a low-return action to try and stop a customer from cancelling. A better use of your time is to learn why. As you dig deeper into why customers are leaving, you’ll likely find a pattern that applies on a broader scale. That’s why this learning process is a huge part of ending the cycle.
This is a foundational approach: it starts before your customers even sign on.
Ideally, you’re using your product data, as well as tools like a CRM, to track interactions with prospects so that you and your team have a clear understanding of what they’re looking for. (Here's how our team does it.)
You can glean helpful insights by:
- Using surveys to proactively gauge how your customers are doing in their customer journey,
- Sending follow-ups and check-ins after major milestones and events, like onboarding completion or attending a webinar,
- Looking closely at their usage and behavior, and comparing it against the healthy customers you identified above, and
- Asking customers why they’re leaving and documenting that information for future use.
By comparing against healthy customers, you can identify indicators that lead to losing others. Once you know the indicators in advance, you can roll out tactics to ensure that users are on the right path.
For example, we might look at our customers' product usage and find that customers are more likely to churn if they don’t download the Google Chrome extension. To remedy this, we could focus on boosting extension downloads through increased education and support on the extension and its benefits, or even incentivize that action through special offers.
Know thy customer 🔍
Learn how to gather and use customer data effectively with this free handbook.
Pro-tip: Copper has a “Loss Reasons” report to track deals that didn’t close. This can help optimize your sales strategy while ensuring that future prospects are the right fit—which is another big contributor to preventing churn:
Copper’s Loss Reasons report lets you customize your reasons based on what’s most relevant to your company, in addition to the default settings for price, competitor, and features.
3. Understand each customer’s goals and needs
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is to assume that all customers want the same thing.
Spoiler alert: a cookie-cutter strategy won’t cut it. It’s critical to understand what each customer wants, and ensure you’re delivering on the value proposition that’s most meaningful to them.
Here at Copper, we’ve found that in addition to different goals and intentions for joining us in the first place, many of our customers’ needs will vary based on what stage they’re in. For example, a customer who has just onboarded will have different needs than a customer who’s in a more mature stage.
A CRM can help make sure you understand—and actively provide—the level of attention and care that each customer needs. It also helps to loop in the right team members so that no one slips between the cracks:
As you’re tracking this information over time, you’ll also capture the natural changes that occur along the customer journey. This in turn helps you “future-proof” your strategy to anticipate how new customers might want to interact with your business.
4. Set realistic expectations about your product or service
Strong relationships are at the heart of customer success efforts.
That starts with setting realistic expectations about your product or service and showing genuine empathy for your customer’s needs.
Don’t make promises you can’t fulfill, and be upfront and open about everything from product feature to any causes you support through your company.
Here’s an example:
Rackspace provides hosting services to businesses of all sizes, but the company makes sure to set realistic expectations on its enterprise hosting page by indicating that this type of hosting is best suited for Fortune 100 companies.
When setting realistic expectations for customers, it’s critical to make your practices, offerings, values and policies transparent. The best way to do this is by making it clear on your company literature, social media profiles, and website how you do business.
Companies that present their authentic selves to customers have a better shot at building long-lasting relationships that lead to repeat sales (and bigger profits).
5. Nail Sales-to-Customer-Success handoffs
The need for seamless Sales-to-Customer-Support handoffs is a no-brainer.
When these two departments are aligned, it makes it much easier to achieve the challenging task of optimizing customer journeys and knowledge transfer.
But what I’ve seen is that this transfer of knowledge is often a disorganized mess. The biggest reason, hands down, is a lack of effective communication. Sometimes misalignment occurs when salespeople leave out key info from the information they hand over to the Customer Support team and vice versa.
For example, a rep from an IT company’s sales team may tell a prospect that a success manager will help troubleshoot their laptop—but fail to share details about the laptop’s OS with the Customer Success team.
When the same customer reaches gets in touch with a Success manager, they'll be again asked what operating system they're on. This kind of avoidable repetition—if you do it enough, for a long enough period of time—can annoy the customer and even cause them to choose another company.
Again, this is where a CRM shines. It’s designed to be a collaborative space that gives all members of your department access to customer and prospect journeys and sales notes. Some even let you tag team members to ask about a customer and ensure what you’re promising can be actually achieved:
Copper tracks every customer interaction plus important documents and notes. Tag co-workers, and get notifications when someone tags you back.
6. Empower your customers with educational resources
You work hard to deliver a solution that customers like, but do you work hard to keep them interested?
Educational resources can help your customers become more familiar with your processes, solutions, and company. With better knowledge, they’re also more likely to upgrade to premium plans or stay customers for longer.
All your email sequences, blog posts and any other content are essentially opportunities to give your customer educational resources.
If these are done well, you can establish your company as a trusted partner. Make sure you are providing resources that are useful, such as templates, hands-on learning guides, and in-depth product training via live or pre-recorded webinars.
At Copper, we offer a variety of courses to help customers get the most out of our CRM:
And we also have a Knowledge Base where customers can find answers to their most common questions (here's how to create your own):
These resources, when used properly, allow your customers to feel self-sufficient—and customers that feel empowered to achieve success with the help of your education are less likely to churn.
Not only that, CS teams can free up significant amounts of time that they can spend on identifying additional opportunities to improve your customers’ experience instead.
What are you doing to keep customers from leaving?
Customers don’t stick around “just because.” Increasing customer retention requires a specific, value-focused approach. While every company is going to lose a customer or two at some point, you should take every possible step to keep a healthy customer base.
By taking steps to understand, engage and delight your customers at every step of the way, from identifying what a healthy customer looks to developing resources that empower and educate, you can minimize customer churn—and keep it down.