Fighting churn by removing friction

By Tobias Pasma

Fighting churn by removing friction

As marketers and sales reps, we focus most of our attention on attracting new business. We have our detailed buyer personas, our buyer journey, and we focus on generating new leads and getting these ready for sales.

But what about our current customers? What about the people that make it possible for us to have our jobs? We focus on taking away all friction up until the moment of a newly signed contract. But what happens after that moment? Shouldn’t we focus a bit more on our existing customer base and ensure that they are happy and well-served by us?

Too many companies are so focused on bringing in new customers that they don’t notice they are running out of the backdoor just as quickly. A high churn rate is a massive problem for many of these companies.

Why you should focus on reducing your churn rate

If your churn is high, it means people are buying your product or signing up for your service, but they aren't sticking around. You're not convincing them to stay and continue to use your products or services for whatever reason. There are lots of reasons why churn happens. But the simplest explanation is this: churn increases if customers aren't having a good experience interacting with your product, service, or organisation.

If you reduce churn and make sure your customers are happy, they will repeatedly purchase your product or service and advocate for your organisation more often. You won't have to go through the entire marketing and sales journey whenever you want to make a sale. And you'll build a community of loyal supporters who will keep your business afloat through good times and bad.

The best way to reduce churn is to reduce friction. Remove the things that make your customers want to get away from your company or the things that make it difficult for them to become repeat buyers. Make every stage of their journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible — not just the first few ‘buying’ stages.

How to fight churn by removing friction

In a previous blog, we defined friction and why the customer experience must be smooth. To recap: friction refers to everything that gets in the way of a pleasant customer experience. In other words, it's anything that slows your customer down, places obstacles in making a (repeated) purchase, or gives them a reason to leave you.

In this article, we'll talk about three ways how to eliminate these types of friction for your existing customer, and in so doing, reduce churn, retain revenue, and ensure that your customers stay happy and faithful.

1. Make upsell and cross-sell offers extremely relevantly

Upsell and cross-sell offers can be highly appreciated by your customers when delivered in the proper context. After all, most of your existing customers need your offering, and they're happy to buy from you. It should be easier to sell to this group than the warmest leads.

Offering new products and services that match their previous purchases and provide genuine value can be an effortless way to impress your customers and make more sales. However, these offers must be highly relevant. Targeting customers with the wrong upsells or wrong timing can seem intrusive and annoying and might do more harm than good by creating friction and pushing them away from your brand.

A simple tip: Create a list of contacts with open support tickets or lower NPS scores. Use the list to exclude contacts when sending upsell/cross-sell offers; this is probably not the right time for them.

2. Provide a smooth onboarding experience

First impressions are crucial. That means bringing your customers on board — whether they've just signed up or are on a free trial — should be as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

At this point, your customer is still new to you. They know about your organisation, and they trust and like you enough to make a purchase, but you still have to impress them and prove your value to their business. You want to prove that value as soon in the process as possible.

It's a little like a first date — they said 'yes,' but that's just the first step. If you want to create something lasting, the real work is yet to come.

Here are some ways to banish friction from your onboarding process:

  1. Deeply understand your customer. Address their challenges and questions, speak their language, and give them what they want. Make sure your personas are not just 'buyer personas’ but include details on how they want to be treated as a customer.
  2. Be personal. It's the start of a relationship, so this is an excellent opportunity to show your customers that you know and care about them.
  3. Make it interactive and rewarding. Use appropriate milestones and allow your customer to learn about your product in a hands-on way.

3. Get a grip on your support

Customer support is one area where friction can be a significant killer. When customers come to your support channels, it likely means they already have a problem or question they want to resolve. Throwing further challenges into their path at this stage could be the final push they need to take their money elsewhere.

Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get the information and support they need. Here's how you can do that:

  • Use multiple channels. Today, customers expect a suite of options for contacting support. Live chat, phone, email, and social media are just some of the channels you should be using.
  • Use the data you have. When I called Dominos Pizza back in my home town of Veenendaal, all I had to do was give them my order. They knew that my phone number belonged to my address. When I call my barber, he answers with “Hej, Tobias!”. He knows that I am connected to my phone number. It’s not as complex as you might think to reach this level of personalisation. What you need is the right solution: a single platform that holds all your customer data (read: HubSpot 😉)
  • Have self-service options. Customers have gotten used to solving their problems where possible. Tools like chatbots, knowledge bases, fora, and blog content allow your customers to access the support they need without the extra steps of contacting your employees if they don't want to. Of course, this also helps take the strain off your support team.
  • Make it easy to cancel orders. Your buying process should be as smooth as possible. But it would be best if you also made it easy to cancel orders. It may seem counter-intuitive, but customers who have a simple cancellation experience will think of your brand more positively than if you try to complicate the process and lock them in.

Indicators for churn

It's essential to measure progress to reduce friction and ensure your customers are as happy as possible. By gaining a clearer understanding of how your customers feel about your company and how impressed they are, you can make the necessary changes to remove friction, improve their experience, and retain them at a better rate.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Net promoter score is a system where a customer gets asked to rate how likely they would recommend your business to a friend. It helps measure customer loyalty and understand how your buyers feel about you. In this article, Anders explains it in-depth.
    In the past, I worked with a company where the board had given themselves the task to call everyone who scored a five or lower. They talked to them personally, apologised where needed and did everything to solve their problems. Now that is an unbelievably good example of being remarkable as a business, and it brought the board members a lot closer to the daily reality of their 50000 paying customers.
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are another way to gauge how your customers feel. They measure customers’ attitudes by asking for feedback in various areas, usually right after a support ticket is closed. This article explains it more and demonstrates how we use this in Zooma, even for our content.
  • Bonus: Using a churn prediction algorithm, you can identify which customers will likely leave soon. It can help you direct your efforts in a more focused way to persuade them to stick around. Does a churn prediction algorithm sound scary or complicated? It doesn’t have to be. I’m no programmer and far from a data scientist, but luckily, simple drag-and-drop AI platforms come with built-in algorithms. One of these is Dataiku, and they provide a great step-by-step guide on how to run your churn prediction algorithms.

Eliminate friction, eliminate churn

If you can eliminate friction, you'll provide your customers with a more rewarding experience. They'll come to associate your business with reliable, enjoyable service, and they'll make more purchases with you. It's one of the most valuable things you can do to reduce churn and build long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas and inspiration for ways you can reduce friction in your customer processes. If you want to expand your knowledge before you start implementing, make sure to get our guide to customer satisfaction - happy customers are essential for frictionlessness, so this is an excellent place to start.

If you want more insights like this one - make sure to subscribe to get notified next time we publish an article. 

Subscribe to The Onlinification Hub


Get the customer satisfaction guide

Get the customer satisfaction guide

Download ebook
Tobias Pasma
An experienced HubSpot specialist with many HubSpot certifications under his belt. Born in the Netherlands and moved to Sweden in 2019.
Keep me updated!
Oh no! Could not find any posts that were tagged with “digital-sales”!