We put out a call on Twitter the other day for folks’ best tips on what has really lowered churn for them this year.
A few of the best:
- “Hire more relationship managers. Customers care about relationships, and nothing replaces a human available to help whenever you need something.” — Sam Blond, CRO, Brex. We all learn this again and again. The best place to put that incremental dollar on the revenue team is in existing customers.
- “1. Pay sales reps on renewals (enough to keep them from overselling year 1). 2. Hire 9s & 10s ONLY. 3. Referral bonus that is meaningful $5k pre tax (1/2 on 1st day at work, 1/2 after 6 mtgs)” — Mark Matzke, ServiceNow. Paying reps on renewals is a complex topic, but the reality is, it’s not as big a deal as you might think. Most reps don’t stay forever. It’s worth seeing if it changes behavior for the better.
- “1/ Divide your churn into manageable and unmanageable areas 2/ Strip out definable areas of churn reason (e.g. account management, pricing) that is trackable before you venture into complex areas like value realization” – YK Lee, Head of CX, Sendbird. Are you segmenting churn? If not, start ASAP. More here.
- “Product team is closer than ever to customers/users” – Philip Cuter, CEO, Paper. Do your head of customer success and head of product work jointly on all top customers?
- “Visit as many customers in person as possible” — Ryan Janoch, co-founder and VPS, Mapistry. This is an interesting one. I know the company well as its lead investor. Over the last 60 days, Mapistry has visited all its top customers again for the first time since Covid. The impact in NRR, upsells, and more has already been profound. You don’t have to get back to in-person again. But it will work if you do. More here.
- “We added in personalized/one-on-one consulting for free. We understand their use cases in more detail and help customers with their broader problem (outside of what our product can already solve)” — Harshit Jain, Founder, Kaizen Fox. While I don’t really recommend doing services for free forever, it’s often a huge differentiator in the early days. Yes, charge for your services, once you have at least a mini-brand. But just do what it takes to make the customer happy in the early days especially.
- “Just say yes! Then make it happen despite knowing that it will cost you in the short term. Word of mouth is everything right now so I am ok to take the small hit.” — Safia Quershi, Founder, Clubzero. A variant of the prior post. You can’t do this forever, but you can do it in the early days.
- “Two things tied for first: 1) product led growth experiments to improve Activation + Engagement 2) implemented @BrightbackIO for cancellations.” — Amaan Nathoo, Director Customer Success, Latermedia. Most of us don’t make improving activation time and rates a top KPI. When you do, magic happens in retention. More on that here.
- “1.) mapping out the customer journey from onboarding to expansion 2.) have a game plan for each call with the intent to move the customer along the lifecycle 3.) document everything 4.) hustle” — Tarek Alaruri, founder, Fairmarkit. Not enough of us really map out the customer journey to expansion. We just wait and hope it happens.
- “In enterprise SaaS, set up a quantifiable joint success plan and track progress with exec sponsor every month” — Himanshu Jain, VP Product Management, CommerceIQ . A variant of the prior point. Do you do think as part of QBRs, or otherwise? You need to plan for success with your sponsor and key stakeholders, and review progress against it. We did a great dive on this with Peter Gassner, CEO of Veeva, back here:
- “Quarterly winning slides”. — Pedro Goes, CEO, Inevent. A simple version of the prior point. Make sure you do QBRs, and that they include the specific wins for each customer each quarter. You create a cheat-sheet for them to socialize the ROI internally to other stakeholders.
- “Launch a module that expands our end user persona to more personas and total # of users (and not charge for it)” — Vasu Parthipati, CEO MaestroQA. Another one I know well, as the larger investor. MaestroQA has driven its ACVs up substantially, but that doesn’t always mean charging more for everything.
- “Adding headcount in customer success dept” — Hoala Greevy, CEO, PauBox. Ditto the point Sam Blond, CRO of Brex, above. You can’t cut corners in headcount in success with automation. That’s the thing. You just make the headcount more effective.
- “Changed our rewards program to encourage long-term loyalty and spend. Previously gave customers a bonus just for trying out our product. Switched it to where the bonus is only achieved if they stay with us over time. All using our branded crypto-token, promoting it as a collectible, which increases loyalty. Adding tiered statuses later this year.” — Mark Thomas, CEO, ZenSports. Rewards programs are hard to do right, but when they click, they can really incent word-of-mouth and more.
- “Prioritize: Stakeholder health over account health. Solution adoption over Products adoption. Break it down into the component parts. For multi-solution products, focus on adoption/success/enablement of each use-case. For multi-stakeholder account, focus on the needs and goals of each of your stakeholders.” — Michael Covopol, 3x CS Leader. This is a subtle answer with a lot of great learnings. It’s far more important to know if your stakeholders see a deployment as a success than if they are just using it. High usage can still mask churn. You can’t just rely on a health meter based on usage. They may well be trying another product at the same time if they aren’t happy. More here.
- “CX team with psychology background” — Artur Vilas Boas, founder, Labenu. A new one for me, but something to think on!
- “Created new product to customers who were not perfect fit existing one” — Sho Tsuchiya, Founder, Forcas. OK, we can’t all do this. But it’s a challenge to think about.
- “Add Pendo to our tech stack.” — T.J., VP of Markerting & Customer Success, 1WorldSync. Whether it’s Pendo, or GuideCX, or WalkMe, or all of them or other similar apps — apps that make it easier to understand your app make things better. Deploy some of them.
- “Changed from single-user to team-based licensing” — Impatient Capital. A team plan, done right, always has lower churn than a single seat user. More here.
- “We have 250+ customers. Having dedicated account manager for top 50 customers paying us 80% of the revenue. Account manager should have had a monthly call with these customers and noting down the feedback. We are addressing the pain points in our product roadmap.” — Dinesh Kumar, Co-founder, Testpress. Do you have dedicated account managers at least for the top 40% of your customers? 80% here is maybe even better. Monthly check-ins.
- “1. Made friction less onboarding for new users. 2. Tried concierge onboarding to help users get most out of the tool.” — Utav, PM, Sales Handy. Again, most of us can do a lot better in onboarding. A lot better.
- “Last year we made a big indent by personally welcoming each new customer. This year it has been niche specific onboarding that has made a big dent” — Casey Hill, Head of Growth, Bojourno. More onboarding.
- “Experimented with different pricing and packaging” — Carl Gold, Chief Data Scientist, Zuora, Senior Data Science Manager, Migo. Do pricing and packaging tweaks really impact retention? Carl says yes. Zuora’s NRR was relatively low for enterprise SaaS, so experimenting here was critical. Carl has the data.
- “Start/grow the customer analytics team for trends and insights, then launch programs.@GainsightHQ
has helped a ton here from a software perspective, though def need analysts to build analytics!” — Jeff Beaumont, DIrector of Customer Success Ops, GitLab. You probably have to get to $10m ARR or so before you think about finding a customer analytics team, although some well funded startups do it earlier. But it can be magical. By $8m-$10m ARR, everyone sure better be speaking from data — not just your opinions and anecdotes.
- “1. Create a way to track if clients have achieved the ROI/value you sold them – incent CSMs on it 2. Find which features in your product are “sticky” – incent CSMs on deploying them” — Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight. Nick would know! Incenting deploying your stickiest features can work incredibly well when done right.