Modern CSMs – especially those working in a SaaS-based organization – are often responsible for more than what makes it into the job description. It is more than just working through an implementation or onboarding plan, providing ongoing support to customers throughout their lifecycle, and delivering on customer expectations.
Instead, modern CSMs are often asked to spearhead one of SaaS business’ most daunting and unpredictable aspects: customer churn.
What causes customer churn?
In many SaaS organizations, customer churn occurs for many various reasons. It could be budget constrictions, goal changes, or other internal updates on the customers’ side. It could also be poor service, a loss or misunderstanding of functionality, or any number of other things on the vendor side. Unfortunately, while these are all not directly related to customer success or customer relationship management, the CSM is on the front lines of these relationships and is often looked to as the leader in all things customer churn.
How to prevent customer churn
Luckily, when it comes to preventing customer churn, CSMs are not in it alone. Building a solid customer roadmap that considers potential customer issues, renewals, and churn conversations is critical to a long-term, successful customer relationship. By integrating existing customer success strategies with company-wide initiatives, your team can turn customer churn into something the entire organization is responsible for instead of something resting on the shoulders of the customer success team.
Here are a few tips for CSMs to implement to help reduce customer churn:
- Be proactive and transparent: One of the most common reasons customers leave their vendors is that they don’t feel like a true partner. There is no trust between the customer and vendor, and in the event that issues do occur, they can be swept under the rug or ignored, or worst case, hidden from the customer until it’s too late. Be proactive with your customer communication and transparent with any issues that arise.
- Define a roadmap and stick to this throughout the customer lifecycle: If you are just robotically moving forward with a customer with little to no growth or innovation, what is the point of them sticking around? When your customer first comes on board, build a roadmap that considers expansion, product enhancements, and other growth-focused initiatives. Then, stick to this roadmap throughout the customer relationship to ensure you’re on the right path.
- Ask for customer feedback and survey responses often: Don’t wait until it’s too late to know that a customer is unhappy or thinking about churning. Instead, ask for customer feedback on an ongoing basis and review these responses for immediate insight. If you see any red flags or issues, tackle those head-on – don’t wait for issues to get too far down the road that they lead to churn.
- When churn does happen, investigate immediately: As any CSM knows firsthand, churn will happen. What you can’t do, however, is shrug your shoulders and move on without investigating. Dig into churn when it happens, when it is still fresh.
- Were there any signs the customer was at risk of churn?
- Did the customer contacts give any feedback after they churned?
- Is there anything your team could have done differently to have prevented this decision?
You can learn more about customer churn and delivering incredible customer experiences with these additional resources from ClientSuccess:
- Webinar: How to Handle Churn
- Webinar: Churn Probability Score – How to Recognize Risks and Predict Customer
- Toolkit: Churn Management Toolkit