May 29, 2020

4 New Rules For Customer Retention in 2020

Abby Hammer
Abby Hammer

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This piece is brought to you by ChurnZero Chief Customer Officer, Abby Hammer. ChurnZero is a real-time Customer Success platform that helps SaaS companies fight churn and gives businesses the means to optimize the customer experience.

In a world where companies are shrinking budgets, downsizing staff, and dropping unnecessary applications, Customer Success (CS) teams everywhere are facing their greatest challenge to date.

How can you convince customers your product is still a need-to-have in this environment?

For companies hit hardest by COVID-19, things drastically changed overnight and money dried up—fast. For those more tangentially hit, the biggest impact has been the lingering uncertainty of the market.

Due to this uncertainty, people are quick to move away from products/services where they cannot draw a clear line between the solution and a definable, quantifiable value. And while proving the value of your solution and drawing clear lines towards necessity was always the gold standard for CS, now, it’s table stakes.

This makes our jobs more challenging as CS professionals.

For example, if you had an at-risk renewal before, their likelihood of churn just multiplied by ten. These at-risk renewals are no longer willing to bank on vision or possibility alone, and it will be that much harder to convince them to stay on board.

So, what can you do to keep stressed out, panicked, and preoccupied customers on board?

4 New Rules For Customer Success Teams in 2020

Rule #1: Send Just the Right Touch

At times like these, CS teams should think hard about what constitutes meaningful, worthwhile communication.

With so much at the forefront of our customers’ minds right now, our ChurnZero CS team shifted from less frequent, longer-form content, to more bite-sized, regular communication, through non-traditional channels like in-app messaging. The consistent stream of targeted calls to actions make it easier for customers to consume messaging and gain value.

Find non-traditional ways to communicate with your customers, besides their inbox. Light touches like direct mail and gifting can also be extremely effective in building loyalty, fostering positivity, and establishing trust in a way that nothing else can. We normally assume if someone gives you something, they want something in return. Be a good partner by offering something because you think it’s useful. It will be greatly appreciated.

Rule #2: Be the Bearer of Good News

Another guideline our team practices is proactively finding positivity.

From a team morale perspective, that’s what keeps the engine going, but the same concept applies to customers. Find out what gets them up in the morning, and how you can make their lives a little easier, if only for a brief moment.

We’re all navigating our emotions during this crisis. What we deal with and how we cope changes each day. Be extra sensitive to your customers’ emotional well-being. Keep in mind that you could be reaching out to someone who may not be having the best day. Showing empathy and understanding have the potential to put a more positive spin on your customer interactions and become the bright spot in their day that they may genuinely need.

Rule #3: Help Yourself Help Your Customer

Putting aside the fact that I am the CCO of a CS platform, I genuinely believe that now, more than ever, you should invest in technology and resources that help your customer base–whether that’s purchasing a CS platform, sending eGifts to offer support during this time, trying a new product solution, or testing a particular approach. How you allocate your budget should directly tie to efforts to keep customers.

After all, the company that works to retain and grow its customer base is the company that will ultimately make it through this crisis.

Everything we’re all doing right now can be used in times of crisis—not just during pandemics. As a CS team, you already regularly deal with smaller or more customer-specific emergencies. This is the perfect learning opportunity to teach people how to handle a problem under pressure, so that the next time your CS team encounters an emergency, you’ll already have playbooks to work from. You can look back and think, when times were tough, what solutions did we come up with? How did we solve our most pressing issues? If you use those lessons learned, you’ll be prepared no matter what life may throw at you next.

Rule #4: No More “Set it and Forget It”

When it comes to CS, data matters.

In the past, CS teams could somewhat get by making basic assumptions about a customer’s behavior and success based on broader swaths of customer data.

However, that’s not what modern CS looks like anymore. Data-driven CS more closely mirrors account-based marketing. This approach prioritizes using ideal customer profiles with firmographic information as well as behavioral data to inform customer outreach.

There is no more “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to your Customer Success strategy. Instead of monitoring a strategy for performance stats on a weekly or monthly basis, you should now use a “set it and check in on it in every day” method to align to rapidly changing situations.

Our current condition is extremely fluid. Assure your customers that you’ll figure this out with them. Whatever problem they encounter, you’ll do everything in your power to help them resolve it.

By following the rules above, you’ll prove your true value to customers. They’ll reward you for it with their continued loyalty as we embrace the new business landscape together.

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