What is Customer Churn and How to Deal with It
Customer churn. It is an issue that every sales team and every business has struggled with at one time or another. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you surely won’t be unfamiliar with the experience. Essentially, customer churn, or churn rate, refers to the number (or percentage) of customers who choose to stop doing business with you. If you have never dealt with customer churn, then you probably haven’t ever been in business.
What is customer churn?
Broadly, customer churn rates varies by industry and, of course, specific business practices. According to a 2021 study by Statista.com, the cable and the financial/credit industries have the highest churn rate at roughly 25 percent. Twenty-five percent! This means that these companies are losing a quarter of their customers at any given time. This is costly on every level. It is difficult and expensive to attract new customers (five times more expensive as retaining one), frustrating for your sales force, and disruptive to your routine business operations.
So how do you combat customer churn? It starts with knowledge. Time and time again, we talk with leaders who do not fully understand why they are winning or losing business. They may have some anecdotal information from their sales teams, but that information can be significantly slanted in one director or another. Additionally, when pressed, these leaders are often unsure of whether or not their product actually alleviates their customers’ pain points or if the customer’s journey has been positive.
Reducing churn by understanding the customer journey
The lifecycle of a sale typically goes something like this: sales teams prospect new customers, they prepare info/data for the customer, they create their approach, present to the buyer, forecast and handling objections/concerns/questions, close the deal, and then follow-up. In this model, there are multiple junctures at which the sale can be delayed or can go awry completely. These are just a few:
- Misleading expectations. Despite the best of intentions, sales and operations frequently work in silos. Without alignment, sales can make promises that cannot be supported or delivered by operations. The unintended consequence? Churn.
- Sales-to-Operations hand-off. Once sales has secured the deal, the relationship is transferred from the sales team to the ops team. This hand-off, and the communication between these two entities, is critical. If communication fails, customer churn can happen.
- Start-up fails. The “real work” begins once the operations team takes over. During that critical start-up phase, the client is still feeling out their place in your organization. They need to know that they are a #1 priority. If the operations team has too many irons in the fire, they don’t understand deadlines or expectations or, even worse, they aren’t responsive to the client’s needs, the business is at risk. In these cases, the relationship can die before it even begins. And then, you guessed it…potential churn.
- Incomplete information. The sales and ops teams are not always at fault for churn. Blaming doesn’t ever help, but there are times that the customer may have some ownership in your inability to deliver a solution to their problem. For instance, sometimes customers don’t provide all the information needed up-front. Or, they are unwilling to provide your team the access necessary to complete a project. If resolution does not happen, the customer will churn.
- Feedback. It is very important for customers to be transparent with their pain points. After all, they are hiring you to solve their problem. If the customer cannot be vulnerable and acknowledge where they have opportunities for improvement, your solution will never meet their need. Feedback about their initial troubles, as well as honest feedback about your solution along the way is needed and necessary. Churn can happen when the feedback loop is inconsistent or nonexistent.
This may appear to be a bleak picture, but while there are many ways the customer relationship can fail, there are also some incredible ways it can succeed. Businesses that become growth machines and develop into industry dominators nearly always have a customer experience analysis strategy. Customer experience analysis strategies provide insight as to how customers interact with a business and a brand. Ultimately, it reduces churn and increases loyalty.
Questions to combat churn
Broadly, customer experience analysis can help you answer these types of questions:
- How did the customer learn about you?
- What was their initial impression?
- What factors were important as they considered your solution to their problem?
- Are they a current customer or a new customer? If new, who were they doing business with before and what did they like/dislike about them?
- Will the customer seek multiple bids? If so, how do you compare in price or product?
- What steps were involved in the decision making process and by whom?
- Who were the decision makers?
- What timeline were they on?
- Did your sales team meet their timeline?
- Who gives the final nod for purchase?
Customer experience analysis does exactly what the name implies. It gives you a clear picture of your customer’s journey and identifies where there are gaps. Collecting customer feedback in today’s competitive environment is a necessity. Analyzing the trends will help you broaden your brand and your business.
To learn more about how Primary Intelligence can help you with an easy, automated, and affordable customer experience analysis, contact us at [email protected].
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