How to Improve Customer Retention

There is something to be said about how vital it is to leverage market research to understand your non-buyers so you can convert them into customers. But focusing on how to improve customer retention is just as important, if not more. It is more profitable to invest in existing customers, especially since acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

The market may be vast, but there is a finite number of potential customers, so making a good lasting impression is key to keeping the customers you have already won, regardless of the industry you’re in. That is why your customer retention efforts are so important.

What Is Customer Retention?

The definition of customer retention is pretty simple: it’s your business’s ability to keep your existing customers coming back to you time after time. But with such a crowded market, that is easier said than done.

Did you know that the average business today loses between 10-30% of its customers annually? Additionally, research by CarlsonMarketing shows that U.S. companies lose 50% of their customers every five years. 

The fact of the matter is that today’s customers have more options than ever before when it comes to purchasing products and services. So, if you aren’t working purposefully to keep those customers, it’s likely they will go somewhere else.

How Is Customer Retention Measured?

We’ve already mentioned a few customer retention statistics, so you might be wondering how those are calculated. Well, let’s do some math here.

Assume the following definitions:

  • CE = The total # of customers when the period ends
  • CN = The total # of new customers that you acquired during the period
  • CS = The total # of customers at the beginning of a period

To calculate retention rate, you need to use the following equation:

  • Retention Rate = ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

What Is Considered a Good Customer Retention Rate?

It goes without saying that a retention rate of 100% is virtually impossible. But a “good” retention rate is highly varied by the industry you’re in. Here are some industry-average customer retention rates for you to benchmark against:

IndustryAverage Customer Retention Rate (%)
Professional Services84
Automotive and Transportation83
IT Services81
Construction and Engineering80
Financial Services78
IT and Software77
Consumer Services67
Hospitality, Restaurants, Travel55

Why Is Customer Retention Important?

Regardless of the industry you’re in, retaining your customers should be one of the top four goals of your overall business (alongside acquiring customers, increasing customer lifetime value via cross-sell and upsell efforts, and reducing operating costs). After all, it is your customers that keep you in business.

If you fail to keep track of your customers, their experiences, and how many of them are staying with you versus leaving for a competitor, you could be bleeding customers (and money) without even realizing it. Need some more convincing? Here are some additional facts for you:

  • 68% of sales come from recurring customers
  • Loyal customers are more likely to share their experience with the company and they are also more likely to purchase from the company again in the future
  • Loyal customers who continue to support your brand will increase your profits
  • iLoyal customers will also recommend your brand and give positive reviews to their family and friends”
  • Returning customers tend to spend more on your brand over time.
  • You get a greater return on your investment (ROI) from repeat customers than trying to acquire a first-time customer
  • Even though only 12% to 15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer, they represent between 55% to 70% of the retailer’s sales. 

How to Improve Customer Retention

The most effective way to improve customer retention? You guessed it! By leveraging your customer experience (CX) program. Your CX program gives you direct insight into how satisfied your customers are with their experience, and then identifies the areas in which you need to improve in order to keep those customers.

There are four cornerstones of customer retention that your CX program helps to support. They are:

Understand Why Customers Leave

  • Exit Interviews: Drive true learnings from the people who understand why customers leave the most (ex customers)
  • Market Pulse Programs: Stay ahead of the competition and learn from our competitor’s customers, other industry customers, and identify other opportunities in the market.
  • Invest in the Right Analytics: Predictive models help to extend lifetime value (LTV) by warning you when specific customers are likely to churn

Eliminate Customer Friction

  • Customer Journey Mapping: Understand moments of impact and potential frustration across your customer journey
  • Employee Forums: Access the employee perspective—and socialize that perspective up the chain of command to create effective change
  • Leverage All Information Sources: Look beyond traditional surveys to include other forms of experience data, such as social data, review site data, operational data, and more!
  • Deploy Microsurveys at Key Touchpoints: Get customer feedback in the moments that matter

Recover Customers Effectively

  • Closed Loop Programs: Address concerns when it matters most
  • Multichannel Listening: Fix broken processes before they become retention detractors
  • Empower Employees: Encourage and train your employees to use their best judgment and make things right without layers upon layers of approval

Drive Deep Relationships

  • Support Teams Consistency: Identify fundamental customer needs and create customized value and benefits
  • Formal Relationship Surveys: Create goal-oriented relationship surveys; look for churn warning signs specific to your business
  • Leverage Loyalty Programs: Leverage your best customers to be your most outspoken advocates

Calculating the Value of Customer Retention Using Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

At InMoment, we frequently sit down with brand executives and look at real-time metrics that show how much revenue has been recovered due to their closed loop program. Here is the equation we use to prove that value.

Begin with the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer— for example, a prominent pizza chain has publicly stated that their LTV of each customer is $10,000. So, let’s use that for our example. Because your CX efforts are listening to the voice of your customer across all channels, you have the ability to report that last week (hypothetically) you had 300 service lapse incidents across your digital and retail journeys. Multiply that 300 by your customer LTV of $10,000 and you now have $3M of at risk revenue. (Yikes!)

Studies tell us that 50% of those customers will continue to do business with your brand, however, 50% will defect—this is where your closed loop program comes into play. If we resolve the issues with half of that 50% that might defect, we know we have recovered $750,000 of revenue across your brand just in the last week!

From these numbers, it’s clear that, although it can be complex, focusing your efforts on improving customer retention is well worth it! And if you’re using your customer experience program to guide you, you’re sure to create the types of experiences that keep customers around for a lifetime!

To learn more about how to improve customer retention, download this whitepaper that teaches you how to use your customer experience program to improve customer retention and become a revenue generating machine!

Reducing Customer Churn: Do You Need Prediction, Interpretation, or Both?

Customer behaviour prediction—including customer churn prediction—is at the top of our clients’ agenda—and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to be able to predict the future for their customers, employees, and business? 

What Is Predictive Modelling?

In the world of customer experience, predictive modelling means using data to predict the future needs, wants, and behaviours of your customers and employees. 

My name is Ton Luijten, and I’m a Customer Success Director for InMoment, as well as the Data Science Lead for the APAC region. I’ve come across many interesting case studies that show how predictive models can be really powerful when trying to sell products or services to your consumers. However, when it comes to actually improving the experiences of your customers, it becomes more complex. 

In order to take action and make the right improvements to your CX, it’s vital to understand why something will happen. If you do not have those actionable insights, you will know what or who to target, but you don’t know how best to target them. In this post, I’ll take you through why you need both prediction and interpretation to make the best business decisions.

What’s the Difference Between Prediction and Interpretation?

Let’s take a step back and talk about the difference between prediction and interpretation. In data science, there’s a trade off between prediction accuracy and model interpretability. We have very flexible approaches that tend to come with great prediction accuracy, we’ll call these “black box” models. We also have more restrictive approaches that lend itself to better interpretation, which we’ll call “white box” models. While at first glance it might be appealing to always go for black box models (i.e. the flexible approach with the higher prediction accuracy), you might want to opt for white box models, which leave room for greater interpretation.

To Decide Which Prediction Model, Identify Your Goal

The best model for your business will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re in a situation where you just want to be able to predict who will buy your products or services, then you don’t really have a need for interpretation, because you just need to target that audience with your ads. However, if you need to have a conversation with a customer that’s very likely to churn, it might be useful to understand why they’re going to leave, so you can have a more relevant conversation.

Bringing Employee and Customer Churn Prediction to Life

The most common use case for predictive models in CX and EX tends to be employee or customer churn, which means customers or employees are intending to leave your brand. Of course businesses are motivated to retain their customers and employees, as it takes time and money to replace both customers and talent. 

When we build predictive models for churn, I typically create at least two—one black box model, where I use a flexible approach that tends to achieve good prediction accuracy and a white box model that provides more insights. When we do this, it becomes very easy for clients to understand why it’s important to have interpretation alongside your prediction accuracy.

Recently we went through this exercise with one of our clients and the black box model provided a great fit, however the only output it provided was relative importance of the variables. In this case it showed tenure as the most important driver. Now this might not be a surprise for most of you, as tenure tends to be quite important when it comes to churn. It’s also not very useful and just throws up more questions; the key question would be at what tenure do my clients start to churn

Taking Action Post-Churn Prediction

The most important part of predicting churn is taking action on those insights. Churn prediction won’t give you all the answers to why customers or employees might be leaving, but it will direct you where to focus. You’ll need to identify the best way to avoid the churn—and there are right ways and wrong ways of actioning your churn insights. 

The wrong way of taking action might look like contacting your at-risk customers and explaining why they shouldn’t leave, or perhaps explain how easy it is to use our product or service. It’s also a bad idea to call at-risk customers to confirm they are leaving, then try and talk them out of it. 

These approaches are highly problematic and could cause customers or employees who weren’t actually going to leave to consider doing so. After all, some customers or employees are not looking to leave but are also not very engaged or loyal, so these types of actions could make them rethink the relationship.

The right way to take action on churn insights is to think broader and make a proactive plan. From the “white box” approach, we could actually see that there were high churn groups across the tenure range. At one end there was a group with very low tenure (less than 1 year) who never really used the service and on the other end we have clients who had been with the company for many years and had done many transactions, but they never bothered to use certain services, which made the service harder to use. 

Now this obviously gives us a much better idea of how to take action and reduce churn. For new customers, you might consider introducing incentive programs to start using the service when they sign up, while for customers with a longer tenure, you could intervene and make them aware of the services they could take advantage of to make their lives easier.

So, Do You Need Prediction, Interpretation, or Both?

When it comes to Experience Improvement, we need both prediction and interpretation. We want to be as accurate as possible when we predict churning customers or employees but we also want to understand why they’re leaving—and this is not just a one size fits all. 

Different segments might be leaving for different reasons and have different propensities to leave. Having insights into why customers or employees might be leaving gives you a better idea of what to do about it. Of course, this might lead to a slightly less accurate predictive model, but the trade off is worth it, because what good is an accurate prediction if you cannot take effective action on the back of it?

Want to learn more about how you can reduce employee and customer churn with your experience program efforts? Check out this eBook, “How to Improve Customer Retention & Generate Revenue with Your CX Program”

Three Paths to Understanding Why Customers Leave Your Brand

Retaining customers is one of the best ways to ensure that your brand is building a strong bottom line and an ever-improving experience, but keeping customer churn low is easier said than done. Customer churn is, unfortunately, an unavoidable fact of doing business, but that doesn’t mean that brands have to let it happen in vain. Today, we’re going to give you a quick rundown on understanding why customers leave your brand so that you can prevent future churn, retain loyal clientele, and continuously improve their experience.

Enabling Storytelling

One of the best ways to become aware of friction points within your experience is by letting customers point them out in their own words. We’re not just talking written survey answers, here; experience feedback programs that enable multimedia feedback are among the most powerful tools for learning about problematic or broken touchpoints in your customer journey.

Think about how much more human it is to see and hear customers express their concerns instead of just reading about them. Multimedia feedback empowers brands to understand customer concerns on a much more human level than surveys allow, which is also important for motivating employees. In short, empowering customers to express their concerns in their preferred format and sharing that frank feedback with the relevant teams is one of the best ways to motivate genuine improvement.

Seeking Disclosure

Receiving feedback from current customers is important, but what about past customers? What about the competition’s? The best customer experience platforms are sustained by the best market research, and brands that opt for the former can often receive the latter. Databases, customer panels, and other sources of market learnings are now available at the push of a button, and brands that want to understand their experience from all angles should seek this knowledge out as resources allow.

Once you have all of this feedback and intel from customers both inside and outside your brand, a handy next step is to feed all of that structured data directly into a real-time text analytics engine. This tool is incredibly helpful for brands because it can extract customer sentiment and reinforce organizations’ knowledge of customer churn’s root causes. 

Keeping Churn at Bay

Like we said earlier, brands can’t keep customer churn out of the equation, but they can do a great deal to prevent it with tools and methods like these. Reducing churn in this way is also great not just for churn reduction’s sake, but also for creating a more human experience, instilling greater loyalty in customers, and creating a stronger bottom line.

Want to read more on how you can improve customer retention? Our new eBook walks you through exactly how to build a holistic initiative and the math that will prove the value of your efforts! Check it out here.

Why Customers Churn—And How Your Brand Can Respond

Of all the inevitable frustrations that come with doing business, perhaps none are so consistent as customer churn. Though countless organizations have made churn reduction a continuous goal, seeing customers leave in spite of your best efforts can be quite a headache in multiple arenas—building loyalty, evaluating effectiveness, and of course, creating a stronger bottom line.

Today’s conversation will be a quick rundown of some of the biggest reasons customers leave and what your organization can do about it. We’ll cover the churn you can control, the churn you cannot, and how to boost your own churn reduction efforts.

The Churn You Can’t Control

Let’s get this out of the way first thing—some churn is beyond any organization’s control. No matter how proactive your customer experience (CX) team is, some amount of churn is inevitable and to be expected. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a fact of doing business.

Why might some customers invariably leave your brand? Sometimes, they really just don’t need whatever product or service you’re offering anymore. In other instances they might fall on hard times and no longer be able to buy what you’re selling. If your brand serves one or a few given areas, they might move beyond that radius and thus cut themselves off that way. All of these things are beyond your brand’s control.

However, none of this means that brands should throw their hands up in frustration. It certainly doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t focus on churn reduction.. While some fraction of churn may be unavoidable, quite a bit of it can be controlled and can be managed by organizations. This brings us to our next point: the churn you can manage.

The Churn You Can Control

Brands can and should use customer experience programs to manage the churn they can influence, as well as evaluate what they could’ve done better. For the most part, controllable churn occurs when your product isn’t a great fit for a customer’s needs, poor communication occurs, or a myriad of other possible causes. However, your brand can respond to and control these issues.

Your customers can use feedback tools to bring problems like poor service experiences directly to brands’ attention. Organizations can then digest the feedback and formulate an action plan to combat that problem. Other churn catalysts like superior competition, product and services disconnects, or deficient employee training can be brought to light this way, as well.

Taking Action

Learning about preventable churn through a customer experience program is powerful stuff, but brands can’t stop at knowing about churn catalysts if they want to retain customers. Rather, brands need to design their programs around the audiences from whom they hope to glean intel about churn causes, listen carefully to those individuals, understand the common sentiments amid all the feedback, and then transform the business accordingly.

With this method, brands can realize a lower rate of churn for themselves and continuously apply customer feedback toward that goal. This process can help brands get churn out of the way of their goals: a better experience for all and a stronger bottom line.

Interested in learning more about reducing customer churn? Click here to read my full-length point of view on the subject and to learn additional strategies for reducing churn at your organization.

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