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How Tech Companies Can Reduce Churn By Improving Customer Retention

By Annie ZelmApr 23, 2015

technology-churn-management

It's well understood that it's cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one. On average, it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, according to Bain & Company.

Additionally, you're far more likely to sell to existing customers than to new prospects. This is especially true for technology companies, which tend to have higher customer acquisition costs. 

Companies seem to be well aware of this reality, yet a recent marketing report published by econsultancy revealed only 30 percent are "very committed" to one of the most effective ways to retain existing customers: relationship marketing. 

In short, this comes down to the Golden Rule: treat your customers the same way you would want to be treated. That basic principle should be reflected in every part of your content marketing strategy for existing customers, from the types of emails you send to the way you respond on social media. 

NGData, a company that manages solutions to enhance customer experience, recently published a fantastic article on how to improve customer retention rates that features insights from 42 loyalty experts. 

Here are just a few of their words of wisdom and some tips on how tech companies can build them into their content strategy. 

Keep Loyalty Programs Simple and Easy to Use

Zach Goldstein, CEO and founder of Thanx, a customer rewards company that enables merchants to identify, engage and retain their best buyers, said companies often get distracted by all the data they have at their disposal as they try to figure out how to incorporate those insights into their loyalty programs. These "Level 3" insights, such as the type of product the customer purchased, seldom add value and tend to complicate the process. 

"Create loyalty programs that provide two benefits: a friction-less user experience, and actionable insights for three transaction criteria, recency, frequency and value," Goldstein said. "Focus on eliminating every checkout hurdle you can." 

Aim to offer some discounts or special perks for existing customers several times a year, such as holiday coupon codes, exclusive webinars or a free trial period for a new product or service. It's great if you can do something even more personalized, such as a birthday email featuring a discount, but don't get caught up in trying to implement something so complicated you won't want to maintain it. Make it easy for yourself and your customers. 

Ask Customers for Feedback (And Act On It)

Chip Bell, a consultant, speaker and trainer for the Chip Bell Group, said the No. 1 way to improve customer retention is to find new and unique ways to create a partnership where they have some "skin in the game." 

You can easily incorporate this concept into your email marketing and social media strategy. Here are a few examples:

  • Send a brief survey asking customers what they've liked or haven't liked about your technology after the first 30 days of using it; offer all respondents a chance to win a gift card
  • Create an online forum and invite them to share their ideas for product updates or new functions
  • Send a customer satisfaction survey that asks them to rate their overall service experience after they make a call to your support staff
  • Invite your customers to write brief reviews on your technology

It's also worthwhile to pick up the phone once in awhile and have a conversation with some of your most loyal customers. If they're willing to write a review or give a testimonial at that time, even better, but that doesn't have to be the end goal. Depending on the relationship you have with them, you could initiate the conversation yourself or have your sales representatives call to find out how they're doing and if they need anything. 

An important note here: Don't ask for feedback unless you're prepared to respond to it! If you have a generic email address for comments and questions, make sure it's clear who will receive those emails and who is responsible for following up. If you're conducting a survey, send a follow-up response that highlights some of the key findings and assure your customers you're taking action. 

It could be as simple as acknowledging your customers want to see more ways to customize your software solution, so you're exploring that with your development team and planning to make some updates in the next few months. Be honest and transparent. If you don't have an answer at this time, say so, but don't forget to acknowledge you heard your customers loud and clear. 

Build the Customer, Not The Sale

If customers feel they are just a sale, they'll go somewhere else without a second thought, said Patrick Freuler, founder and CEO of Audicus, a tech startup that makes hearing aids more affordable, accessible and cooler. 

Keep detailed notes about your customers and their preferences, including the type of communication they want from you and what information they're most interested in. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a CRM integrated with your marketing automation software. 

This allows you to track every interaction, from the emails your customer opens to the phone calls you have with him or her. 

Companies tend to bombard prospects with emails and forget about the importance of staying in contact with existing customers. Share useful information and product updates with them at least once a month.  Invite them to subscribe to your blog. Invite them to webinars where they can learn more about a topic that matters to them. Send them your latest eBook without asking them to fill out their information to download it.

If you're not sure what kinds of information you should be sending to stay in contact, just ask! Send an email asking your customers to update their preferences so you can be sure you're only sending them information on the topics that interest them most. Use that information to segment blog subscriber lists and email lists.

Building customer loyalty requires some extra thought and effort, but the payoff is well worth it. Your current customers can be the strongest ambassadors for your brand—but only if you take the time to show them they matter. 

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The Author

Annie Zelm

As the content manager, Annie manages a team of brand journalists and is the driving force behind the content strategy for companies in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology and professional services. Relying on interviewing skills she developed in her seven years as a journalist, she uncovers insights about what motivates buyers in these industries and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars.
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