3 Customer Retention steps that deliver results

In an every more competitive world, there’s been a dramatic shift away from focusing on churn to focusing on retention.  It’s a really important change and there’s a lot of logic in this shift.  Whilst churn is a reactive approach, focused on taking actions when a customer has decided to leave, retention is a proactive approach, taking actions that are designed to improve the customer experience, increase the engagement of a customer and ultimately deliver a high customer lifetime value.

Businesses that focus on customer retention generally have a higher awareness of the customer, using customer centric measures (such as Net Promoter Score, customer satisfaction, customer engagement scores) to complement the traditional business measures.  At Workshare, we’ve spent two years drilling into what matters for our customers and listening to customers, measuring our changes, and we can see some really tangible positive results.  As the Chief Customer Officer at Workshare, there are 3 areas that had the most impact.

Fixing the low hanging fruit – in most business, asking your customer facing sales and support staff, you will quickly find out what causes most customer dissatisfaction.  In Workshare, customer wanted faster and more reliable response.  By reducing average time to respond to customer from days to a few hours, and by increasing FCR (first contact resolution) from 10% to 55%, customer complaints on all topics have been slashed.

Align you support team with your renewals team – customer will often feel neglected if you only contact them to ask for money, and if their only interaction with your company is when things go wrong, the relationship is invariably based on pain.  When you renewals and support team are regularly talking, trends and patterns that cause customers pain can be highlighted.  Over 300 changes and enhancements to our product have been driven by these team collaborating, making for better product performance and happier customer (our most recent recommendations scores had 55% of customers scoring us 9 or 10 out of 10.)

Deliver human contact with customers – it’s easy to end up with a sales team who focus solely on deal closing and a support team focused on issue closing, and somewhere in all of that, customers get lost in the machine.  As Chief Customer Officer, it’s my job to help everyone in the business think customer, from the development engineers to the PR manager.  There’s many ways of doing this – sharing the voice of the customer scores, “ringing the bell” whenever a customer shares a good experience, but for me, creating a company set of values to put our customers first is probably the most impactful and intangible) action we took.  When customers tell me “The individuals I worked with were very friendly and eager to help” about our people and say, “The most compelling answer to an integrated, secure, document collaboration and distribution platform” about our product, I know we’re on the right track. A human customer experience with our product and our people is critical to encouraging customers to stay with you.

There’s rarely ever a silver bullet to drive up your retention, but focusing on the low hanging fruit, then continuing to drive customer focus across the business will have a dramatic impact on your retention levels.  As our retention levels head towards 95%, the next focus is to build deeper and richer relationships with our customers.  In my next blog, I’ll share thoughts and experiences of creating a more proactive relationship through customer success.

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