Recurring billing companies may be tempted to think that no news is good news when it comes to customer communication. If their customers aren’t contacting them, it must mean they’re content with the product. Right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. An unhappy customer may simply stop using your product without providing any advance notice.
Even worse, customers who aren’t pleased with your service may leave negative reviews, comments on social media, or pass their dissatisfaction on directly to others. One report found an unhappy customer will let up to 15 people know about their experience.
Given the intense competition that pervades the subscription billing service and e-commerce marketplace, it’s imperative to do everything you can to avoid or minimize the loss of business and potential negative word-of-mouth from “silent churn”.
Improve your products and services by combating silent churn
As it turns out—if you approach it the right way—taking steps to identify unhappy customers and mitigate the issues making them unhappy can ultimately strengthen your business. This is because taking such action helps alert you to customer service issues you may not have otherwise known about. It also enables you to improve your product in response to customer feedback.
There are several steps your business can take to overcome the challenge of losing business to silent churn. Common to all of them is the need to be proactive. This is especially important for businesses that work with many customers on a virtual basis. It may be more challenging to find out what these customers think about your products or services, but it’s no less vital.
Before you can address the issues making your customers unhappy, you first must identify who those unhappy customers are. This can be a difficult task given that dissatisfied customers may not be inclined to let you know they’re unhappy.
Be wary of the quiet customer
While you might think an unhappy customer would contact your company to complain about the issue that’s bothering them, this often isn’t the case. A study by 1st Financial Training Services found that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain when they have an issue, and 91% of the group simply left.
Given that where there’s one unhappy customer there are likely others with similar complaints, finding exactly what these quiet customers are unhappy about should be a high priority for your company.
When it comes to getting your customers to open up about what’s bothering them, good old-fashioned relationship building can be an effective tool. While you may not do it the traditional way by sending out sales reps or touching base with your customers on the phone, there are other ways to go about it. Whether you use emails, your website, or some other method, keeping in touch with your customers is crucial to the relationship-building process. Customers who believe a business is truly interested in addressing their concerns are less likely to avoid contacting that business when issues arise.
Another helpful step to take when looking for problems your customers may not be communicating is to use surveys. These should focus on asking customers what they like about doing business with you, what features of your service they prefer, what they’d change, etc. And don’t just focus on the positive responses. Negative answers can actually be more helpful because they pinpoint areas where you need to improve.
Look for churn clues
If you’re able to discern the reason behind a customer’s unhappiness, there’s every reason to believe you can remedy the situation and retain their business. By identifying the issue causing the problem, you put yourself in good position to take the necessary steps to improve the customer’s experience.
Of course, if the customer doesn’t complain, finding out if and why they’re unhappy can be challenging. However, there are steps you can take to discover signs of customer dissatisfaction, including the following.
- Diminished support requests: If your company keeps track of customer support interactions such as support tickets, metrics related to these events can be used as an indicator of customer satisfaction. While customers generating a significant amount of support tickets provide obvious targets for mitigation, you should also consider looking into cases where a customer goes from submitting numerous support tickets to hardly any. This could indicate the customer is actively investigating moving to a new company’s product.
- Questioning contract terms: The terms of your business with customers are outlined in a contract agreement. When customers start asking questions about these terms it could be a sign that they’re considering moving their business.
- Passing up deals: Rewarding long-term customers for doing business with you by offering special deals is a common practice to boost retention and satisfaction. However, if a customer declines to take advantage of such deals, it could signal they’re at least thinking of moving their business elsewhere.
- Communication breakdown: When whatever metrics you use to track communication with a customer show a downturn, it could be the sign of a problem. If the customer used to answer phone calls quickly, but now can’t be reached, or no longer responds to emails, there could be an issue. The same applies if their customer service interactions suddenly plummet.
Reducing customer churn
Once you’ve determined a customer is unhappy, how do you go about salvaging the relationship and keeping their business? While there’s no one answer to this question, there are a variety of steps you can take.
- Product education: If customers don’t have a good grasp of your product, it can inhibit their ability to use it properly, potentially becoming a source of dissatisfaction. To avoid this, make sure you provide easy-to-follow documentation for all product features. You may also want to hold webinars or offer one-to-one sessions to help customers master the technical details of using your product.
- Active communication: Remember, if you aren’t talking to your customers, it’s likely your competitors are. You can help maintain a strong relationship with your customers by letting them know you appreciate their business and are happy to answer any questions or concerns they may have. This approach can help generate new sales as well by keeping your company and its products fresh in your customers’ minds.
- Communicate across channels: Some customers may be perfectly willing to communicate via email or video chat but aren’t willing to talk on the phone. Others may be more reachable via social media portals. To ensure you’re staying top-of-mind with your customers, try to communicate across as many of the most popular channels they use as possible.
- Enable robust cross-departmental communication: To effectively communicate with your customers, you need to use all the resources at your disposal. If your company segregates customer data in silos, it makes it hard to put your best foot forward and win back wavering customers. This is especially true when it comes to customer complaints or concerns. To avoid such a scenario, make sure all relevant departments have access to this information.
- Keep customers engaged: It’s easy for SaaS businesses to go into ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ mode and ignore customers, so long as they keep paying for your product. Given the competitiveness of the subscription billing business, this is a recipe for churn. Boost customer loyalty by being proactive and keeping them engaged. This can involve a variety of actions, such as simply sending out updates about your product on a regular basis, offering bonuses for helping improve your product by filling out a survey, hosting webinars explaining how to get the most out of the product, etc. To measure customer engagement, you can try the tips offered in this guide on the topic.
Turning customer unhappiness from a negative to a positive
Every SaaS business will have unhappy customers at one point or another. What separates the successful companies from the rest is their approach to mitigating the issues associated with customer dissatisfaction, especially when they stem from customers who are quiet about their unhappiness.
If your company proactively seeks out customers who aren’t fully satisfied with your product and endeavours to address their concerns, the benefits can be substantial. Above and beyond retaining business, it can provide the impetus for your company to up its game and improve its products and services as needed. In so doing, you can turn the negative of customer unhappiness into a positive—an opportunity to strengthen your company’s operations, thereby boosting its potential for growth.