The customer churn rate in a subscription-based ISP business is a measure of the number of subscribers/customers that cancel their services over a specified period of time, e.g. a monthly churn rate of 10% means that, on average, customers will retain their services for around 10 months before cancelling. Another example is an annual churn rate of 50% where a customer cancels on average every 2 years, etc.
For ISPs, customer churn is one of the most important metrics to measure and keep track of because it gives your business an indication of your customer lifetime value and is an indicator of customer interest or response to a particular product or service, so it allows you to plan your marketing approach or product spend accordingly.
It goes without saying that in order to achieve a stable retention rate, you need to look at reducing or curbing churn rates as far as possible. To do so hinges on a variety of factors, from subscription service value through to the quality of your after-sales customer experience.
So what can you do to help reduce churn in your business? Your business needs to place itself in the shoes of its customers to understand what triggers them to disengage. So let’s take a look at ten tactics that will help you tip the customer churn scale in your favour.
- Eat your own dog food: The best way to step into your customers’ shoes is to literally use your own products and services. If you’re not already making use of your own products and services to run your business, then be sure to subscribe yourself using the same channels that your customers use so that you can go through the same experience they do. Call your own call center. Sign up for your own products. Test your own services. Call in to query your bill. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn through this process and will quickly identify areas that need improvement.
- Create a personal experience: Modern customers are fickle creatures. Consumers today expect a more personal experience and demand that their needs are treated with utmost importance. A strong after-sales team is therefore crucial to establishing a support system that fosters trust between consumer and service provider. Most of us don’t enjoy dealing with a business that lacks the human touch, so ensure your support centre consists of staff that enjoy interacting with people and understand the meaning of going the extra mile.
- Create brand loyalty and recognition: Your brand image can be your greatest friend or foe. It doesn’t only play a role in retaining your current customer base, but can also be a deciding factor for prospective new business. How your brand is perceived in the outside world has a huge influence on how steadily you are able to grow your business. Great brand identity can also play a neutralising role in compensating for high customer churn rates by aiding you in securing new sign-ups.
- Be reachable to clients and engage them: Many businesses talk a good game, but unfortunately that’s where it ends. Consumer-complaint websites are rife with criticisms that businesses are exceedingly difficult to deal with once the bottom line has been signed. This not only affects current customer loyalty, but also deters prospective new business. Leveraging social media channels is one way to broaden your presence and make your business more “reachable” to the outside world.
- Constantly evaluate customer experience: The trusted customer survey has been with us for decades and is still an invaluable self-evaluation tool. Use it to understand your business through the eyes of the consumer. Remember though that not everyone likes to complete these surveys, so make sure that you keep it short and to the point and possibly incentivise your customers to complete it, e.g. a draw where the winner receives a discount on their next bill or the winner gets to try out your new premium service free for a month.
- Reward customer loyalty: Many businesses make the mistake of focussing on growing their customer base at the expense of their most loyal patrons. Remember, managing customer churn rates involves growing your business from a steady base. Ensure you engage your most loyal customers with incentives and programmes that foster commitment to your brand and keep longstanding relationships going. New customer sign-up rewards, finder’s fees, discounts for referrals: these are all incentives you can use to manage customer churn and grow your business. Some out-of-the-box thinking may be required in order to develop innovative ways of driving new business and rewarding loyalty.
- Make customer self-service portals available: No-one likes waiting in long queues to perform the simplest of tasks. Self-service portals add incredible value by empowering customers to make changes to their profiles, upgrade their subscriptions, or view their consumption data. In addition, self-service portals allow your support staff to focus on more serious issues and also do so faster, thanks to shorter queues.
- Ensure accurate billing on company branded invoices: Why not make use of your billing cycle to remind customers about what makes your brand unique? Accurate billing on company branded invoices extends your brand reach and also gives you the opportunity to inform your customer base about new products and services.
- Make your company easier to deal with: Being reachable means more than just making it possible for people to complain or raise a concern. It means actively engaging your customers and validating their concerns, queries or complaints. Also, this gives you the opportunity to garner customer consensus and opinion on products, services or even the introduction of new ones into the market.
- Make your company easier to pay: Viewing your business from the vantage point of those you serve can reveal much. Evaluating simple processes such as payment channels might bring to light certain problems that you may have overlooked. For example, let’s say your customer has exceeded his or her monthly data usage limit and is desperately trying to process an additional payment for extra bandwidth. A payment method built into the self-service portal, that allows an immediate credit card transaction, a simple “add to my bill” option or includes your banking details, could make the difference between convenience and frustration.
Customer churn management calls for continual self-evaluation that each business needs to perform to ensure longevity in a tough marketplace. Calculating customer churn may involve some clever calculation, but the secret to managing it is a simple case of putting your customer first. Making the effort to understand your customer places you in the perfect vantage point to spot areas for improvement and raise your game to a new level. For more information about how to use the benefits of automation towards your customer service efforts, read this post.