Introduction:

Churn is often referred to as the SaaS growth killer. Failing to retain customers, particularly high-value customers, has a significant negative impact on revenue that, if not addressed, can stifle growth and ultimately play a large role in forcing a company to close its doors. 

Establishing ways to reduce and prevent churn has become a critical strategy for SaaS and other subscription-based companies because research is showing that retaining customers is actually more important to business success than acquiring new ones.

After all, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, and the cost of acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5-25% more expensive than retaining an existing one.

This checklist is designed to help you retain a high-value customer that has expressed a desire to cancel their subscription, or is clearly at risk of cancelling soon according to their product engagement metrics. In other words, it is a last-ditch effort to retain a valuable customer.

Let’s get started.

Preparation:

Record basic details

Evaluate product usage:

Analyze how they use your product

Lack of usage is the number one churn driver, according to research from Bluenose.

It's essential that you gain a solid understanding of how the customer is currently using your product. By doing so, you will be able to identify potential opportunities to increase the value they are getting out of the product and provide more effective support when they express the reasons behind their desire to cancel. 

Check a few key metrics in the sub-checklist below and use the form fields to note down features that the customer is engaging with and features that they are not engaging with, along with some possible reasons why. 

  • 1
    Sessions per day
  • 2
    Average duration of a session
  • 3
    Number of key user actions per session
  • 4
    Time spent in the product

Click here for a comprehensive guide to SaaS metrics for customer success and product management. 

Identify key points of value

After you have carefully analyzed how the customer is using your product, identify a number of, ideally 3-5, key points of value that are clearly benefiting the customer.  

This is important because when you contact the customer later on in the checklist, you can be armed with data clearly showing how they are extracting value and benefiting from your product. 

Quantify the impact of cancellation

This is a powerful way to show the customer just how important your product is to their business. 

Using the customer success metrics you have at your disposal, quantify what the impact would be on their business if they were to cancel their subscription. 

For example, you may have saved the customer X amount of dollars over the past month/6 months/year or created X amount of new revenue streams that are positively impacting their business. 

This may seem like a pushy way to try and convince the customer to stay, however, the customer might be unaware of exactly what the financial repercussions of canceling would be and therefore may well appreciate being educated on such details. 

Matt Goldman, CEO of ChurnBuster, discusses this tactic with our CEO, Vinay Patankar on an episode of Business Systems Explored titled How to Reduce Churn and Retain Customers. Listen to the podcast here

Determine ways to increase value

Using the information you have gathered and analyzed so far, determine a few ways that the customer could increase the value they are getting out of your product. 

Consider which features they are using and not using and where they are currently extracting value.

Features they use: {{form.Features_they_use_(reasons_why)}}

Features they don't use: {{form.Features_they_don't_use_(possible_reasons_why)}}

Key points of value: {{form.Key_points_of_value_for_the_customer_(ideally_with_metrics)}}

Review your product roadmap to identify and new features

Contact the customer:

Give them a call

Now that you have a solid understanding of how the customer is using your product and have determined a few ways to increase the value they are getting, it's time to give them a call and hear their side of the story

Phone number: {{form.Customer_contact_-_Phone_number}}

Close.io CEO Steli Efti talks about why you need to call your churning customers

Send them an email

Looks like it's not a good time for them to talk, send an email to try and schedule a call sometime this week, or at the very least learn more about why they are canceling their subscription. 

You can use the email template below to contact them. 

Record whether or not the customer responded

Record if they are willing to talk

Confirm call date and time

That's great that the customer responded and is willing to talk about their product experience. This is your opportunity to gain valuable feedback and hopefully prevent them from churning. 

Record the scheduled call date and time in the form field below. 

Understand customer concerns:

Ask open-ended questions

The first thing you must do when you have the customer on the phone is ask open-ended, info gathering questions and simply listen. Make it clear that it is your priority to learn more about their experience and why they are unsatisfied with your product. 

Here is an example script for how you could start the conversation: 

Hey {{form.Customer_contact_-_First_name}}, I wanted to personally take the time to reach out, I saw that you are considering canceling your subscription with us, which I'm pretty sad about. What happened? What could we have done better? Is there anything we can do for you today?

Another open-ended question to ask is:

  • Is there anything I can do to make sure whatever happens next creates the most value for your business?

Summarize why they want to leave

Once they have clearly explained to you why they no longer want to use your product, summarize why they want to leave in the form field below. 

Identify the root cause(s) of the problem

There are a number of different reasons why the customer has expressed a desire to cancel their subscription. 

It's essential that you identify the root cause of the problem as this will provide you with insightful, actionable information that can improve your processes moving forward, particularly with regards to your sales process, onboarding, and customer support.

Use the form field below to select the root cause(s) of the problem.

  • 1
    Bad fit (poor sales qualification process)
  • 2
    Poor onboarding
  • 3
    Product has too many bugs
  • 4
    Lack of integration capabilities
  • 5
    Lack of user adoption
  • 6
    Poor customer support
  • 7
    Product champion/leadership changes
  • 8
    Company is acquired/shut down
  • 9
    Other

Retention incentives:

Inform them of key metrics demonstrating value

Inform the customer of key metrics that demonstrate the value you are currently providing them. 

Refer to specific features of the product they use that are getting them results. 

This is intended to be a way for you to educate the customer on the value they are receiving that they may not be totally aware of. 

Describe your ideas to increase value

Describe the ideas you determined earlier in the checklist (below) to increase value for the customer.

Key points of value: {{form.Key_points_of_value_for_the_customer_(ideally_with_metrics)}}

Ways to increase value: {{form.Ways_to_increase_value_for_the_customer}}

Present them with a special offer

Present the customer with a special offer as a last-ditch attempt to prevent them from churning. 

Outcome:

Record the customer's decision

You have done everything you can to retain the customer, but, unfortunately, the decision is not up to you. 

Record the customer's decision to stay or leave in the form field below. 

Thank them for their time and feedback

End the call by thanking the customer for their time and feedback. Assure them that you will relay the information they provided to relevant managers in the company to improve your product/service delivery moving forward. 

Follow-up:

Ask if they have any other concerns

Great job! You have successfully prevented a high-value customer from churning. That is a big accomplishment that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your business. 

As a follow-up, send them an email asking if they have any other concerns that they would like to discuss, and assure them that you are always available to help. 

You can use the email template below to do so. 

Final steps:

Note down important learnings from the conversation

Note down all of the important learnings you have gathered throughout your conversation with the customer. 

Send learnings to appropriate managers

Send your learnings to appropriate managers to inform them of what processes need to be improved so similar situations can be prevented in the future. 

Important learnings: {{form.Important_learnings_from_your_conversation_with_the_customer}}

Sources:

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