The path to customer retention nirvana comes through building and iterating your product with your users. There’s no substitute for a great product or antidote for a terrible one (though excellent marketing can do a good job of covering it up). In this new world, customer retention is the new customer acquisition. Unfortunately, improving retention is especially challenging because it often involves making changes to your product that you cannot track instantly. With this in mind, here are five proven techniques for improving customer retention without changing your product drastically. These five tips should provide some easy wins to bump it up a few percentage points.
- PROVIDE SUPPORT. Most people don’t expect there to be support for apps. So, they promptly delete them at the first sign of trouble — be it a crash or setup dead end. Make sure that you establish from the get-go that you’re available if anything goes wrong. Prominently place a “get help” button (like this one) on your initial splash screen that leads to an email composer, or something a bit more robust. Over-communicate that you’re going to get back to your customer quickly (unless you don’t plan on doing so). Make sure to look at your analytics to see what steps lead to the highest attrition, and add a similar “need help” prompts on those pages (or any blank page/dead end).
- SURVEY EVERY CUSTOMER. Satisfaction surveys not only help you instrument a better product, they also help you identify at-risk customers before they leave you. This is why Evernote CEO Philip Libin loves his angriest customers: “Complaints are great…they tell us where our product or overall experience is failing.” Savvy companies drive all poor ratings directly to an assigned sales or support team for email follow-up. Informing them of upcoming product enhancements, offering discounts or simply letting them know that you’re listening is worth doing. Use positive ratings to identify people for VIP programs or for driving social promotion. We found that in-app satisfaction ratings have the highest response rates, but email surveys are a nice way to reach inactive users. Be sure to keep your surveys brief (1-2 questions) and make sure emailed users don’t need to go to a separate survey site to complete the form. Don’t just take a sample either — try to ask everyone you can.
- DON’T AUTOMATICALLY DOWNGRADE USERS. If a user misses a payment, they’re often downgraded to a free version of the product. Avoid doing this, because a user will often log in later and not realize they’ve lost some premium functionality. Instead, put them into some sort of “deactivated” state that makes it clear what functionality has been lost. Then, make it easy (a single click + credit card form) for them to get it back.
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Originally posted on Forbes by Richard White; founder and CEO of UserVoice