Tackling the 7 Tell-tale Signs of Churn

By Ashley Hall

The last time you heard from me, I shared a list of common reasons for customer churn. Hopefully you were able to compile a list unique to your brand. Next up, let’s strategize on how to best approach customers displaying these signs of churn risk.

1.    Negative feedback - Although it may sting a bit, negative feedback can be a good thing. It shows that your client is utilizing your platform. Be gracious in recording their feedback and thank them for taking the time to provide it. Make sure you display a thorough understanding of their needs. Record the feedback and deliver it to your team as well as the product team. Finally, if any product developments come out of their feedback make sure that they are your first call to share the good news!

2.    System use - Acknowledging system use (or lack thereof) provides you with an excellent coaching opportunity. Discussing key features and how to use them properly is tangible value you can deliver to your client. If usage is down in a vital area, work with them to set a goal to increase usage in a way that makes sense for their team. If you regularly remind them of this goal and help them to achieve it, they will begin to see you as a trusted advisor who is invested in their success, versus just a “rep.” 

3.    One-off feature requests - A single, unique feature request that doesn’t align with your product vision should not raise your entire collection of churn warning flags. However, several one-off feature requests should. If your client is asking for many things you know will never happen, be honest. Although it may be uncomfortable now, the customer will appreciate your transparency. Be sure you understand what they are looking for, and clearly communicate why this doesn’t fit with your brand vision.

Unfortunately, frequent, one-off feature requests are often an indication that the customer isn’t a good fit for your product overall. If there comes a point when your customer needs to begin shopping around for another solution, continue to partner with them through the transition. Even if they are planning to move on, make it positive experience - they may be willing to recommend you to another company who is a better fit.

4.    Company changes - As new people step into the relationship they 1) will want to reevaluate all tools and 2) perhaps have had a positive experience using a competing solution. This is when it is time to put on your “re-selling” hat and get to work! Politely request a meeting with your new point of contact once they have been able to settle in. Congratulate them on their new position, give them a full product overview, and paint them a picture of how their new team has been able to see success with your tool in the past. Nurturing this new relationship should jump to the top of your to-do list.

5.    Requests for future pricing - Requests for future pricing can mean two things, they are shopping around and comparing prices, or they are locking in budget for the next year. Either way, it is time to throw on your sales hat again. Ask tons of questions to gauge their progress in the decision making process. It might be time for a product deep dive to refresh their understanding of value.

6.  Contract requests - Although this can be an innocent request, be sure to dig into the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask a frank question such as, “Should I be worried about this?” You may be surprised at how transparent your client is willing to be. Know that this may open up a budget conversation, and you’ll want to be sure their usage and engagement is high during this period. Talk to them about their renewal timeline and set expectations for both parties for next steps.

7. Contact goes dark - Having a contact that goes dark can be one of the biggest challenges that comes up for an Account Manager. It is best not to let your imagination run wild with all the negative reasons as to why they have fallen silent. Polite, persistency will eventually pay off. Remain patient! Continue to provide them value via email and voicemails until they become available again.

While you’re continuing to provide value to that contact, you should also consider reaching out to other users in the company.  LinkedIn can be a great resource to help you figure out who you could approach.  While they may just refer you back to your original contact, they might also have more information about what is going on.  It never hurts to have more than one contact within a given company.

You can only begin to battle churn once you have identified how and why it occurs. Continue to openly discuss your churn warning signs and how to approach them as your team and brand evolve. The reasons for churn are never stagnant, and approaches can always be modified. 

Need help figuring out why your customers churn and what to do about it?  The Success League is a customer success consulting firm with serious expertise in churn prevention!  www.TheSuccessLeague.io

Ashley Hall - Ashley loves to lead account management teams; from training newbies to building processes out of chaos to working directly with customers. With an eye on the future she is a powerhouse in building scaleable frameworks that support and drive growth.  Ashley is currently working for Sparkcentral and holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  She lives in San Francisco, CA.