How to retain customers who are leaving

Customer Lifecycle

How to retain customers who are leaving

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Adam Ramshaw
Adam Ramshaw has been helping companies to improve their Net Promoter® and Customer Feedback systems for more than 15 years. He is on a mission to stamp out ineffective processes and bad surveys.
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Customers, just like products, tend to progress through a lifecycle. In this case, a “customer lifecycle”.  If you manage this process properly,  you will have customers who continue to add value to your organisation.

But let’s face it, sometimes customers will still want to leave the organisation so in that case, the question becomes how do you retain customers who are leaving?

One effective way to do this is to create a Customer Save Team.  A Customer Save Team should become the focal point for your organisation when it comes to turning around customers who indicate they want to leave.

As such it should be the place that all customers are sent in order to perform the account close process.

The Save team has a number of tools in their customer toolkit that mean they are the best placed to prevent a customer from existing.

Those tools include:

Great product expertise

Save teams should be staffed by your best and most capable customer service staff.  That expertise is your first tool to retain customers.  If you use staff with the longest and most varied experience in the company, they will have the best depth of knowledge about how it operates and what is possible.

With that knowledge they have the very best chance of being able to give the customer what they want, when no-one else is sure.  They’ve been around the longest and know all of the unwritten organisational gems that might just mean the difference between the customer staying and going.

Save offers

If great company expertise is not able to keep the customer then the next step is Save Offers.

Save offers are pre-determined offers that are only available to the staff in the Save team.  They are a special set of offers that are made to customers who have asked to close their account, in an effort to change the customer’s decision.

When you construct your save offers you need to think in a strategic fashion, don’t just think about giving discounts.  Giving a discount will often keep the customer a little while longer but unless the offer changes the approach or extends a contract period all you are doing is delaying the customer attrition and reducing margin at the same time.

Make sure that you schedule formal and informal review sessions of the offers with question and answer sessions between the Save Team and other areas of the customer to uncover which scenarios are working and not working.  Identify how changing product features can be used to enhance the save process.

Ensure that you update and expand the rules as new approaches become possible and eliminate those that are not longer applicable.

You also need to ensure that the organisation validates the value of the Save Offer with the overall value of the customer.  You need to be sparing in which offer you make to which customer.  Customer value should be the basis for making that decision.

Move and follow programs

One of the specific offers you can create are Move and Follow programs.  If you really can’t save a customer because of a structural or geographic issue try to put them into a Move and Follow program.

Customers should be put into a Move and Follow program when they make changes in their life that mean that they do not need your product for a period of time.

Examples of when this happens include:

  • Car insurance customers who are selling their car
  • Bank mortgage customers who are selling their house
  • Telco customers who are moving residence.

Move and Follow programs focus on keeping in touch with customers during the time that they do not need your product or service in order to reconnect when they again have a need.

Don’t let them get to this stage

Of course the ultimate way to prevent a customer from leaving is to make sure they never want to leave.   To prevent customers getting into the Exiting phase of the relationship you should look at implementing a holistic individual customer strategy.

You should also ensure that you constantly improve your business.  A tool like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and transactional NPS can be a good way to do this.

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