7 Mistakes You’re Making in Customer Service

We hate to break it to you, but the customer experience is getting worse.

Okay, maybe you already knew that.

With staffing shortages, supply chain disasters, inflation, and a looming recession, there’s a lot going on. And customer service seems to be bearing the brunt of it.

Forrester’s Consumer Index Ratings showed a big drop in the quality of customer experiences. CX fell for 19% of brands in 2022—the highest proportion of brands to drop in one year since the survey’s inception. Airlines and hotels are among the top industries seeing a drop, brought on by both internal and external factors.

While you can’t control the many economic factors contributing to this dip, there are some things you can control. Like your focus on customer service.

Avoid the pitfalls by fixing these top seven most common mistakes in customer service.

1. Making customers wait.

The mistake

Customers don’t like to wait. We repeat: Customers don’t like to wait. It’s an obvious point, yet in the past couple of years, customers have had to wait longer and longer for service.

There are some outside factors that have nothing to do with your business. The fast and thorough shift to online shopping left many businesses overwhelmed. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, almost 90% of customers experienced longer wait times than usual, according to CallMiner research.

And staffing shortages continue to be an issue, especially in positions that can struggle with keeping up morale. Even chattier callers (who’ve been devoid of human contact for much of the pandemic) have contributed to extended wait times.

But there are some things you could be doing to exacerbate customer wait times. Relying exclusively on one-to-one communication, like phone calls, can tie up agents’ time.

The fix

Turn to asynchronous communication channels, like text messaging, social media messaging, and in some cases web chat (also known as live chat). Asynchronous messaging doesn’t require both parties’ attention at the same time.

Pairing asynchronous channels with communication platforms, like Quiq, can make agents more efficient and cut down on your customer wait time. Agents can handle up to eight conversations at once—instead of being locked into a single phone call.

Embracing AI chatbots will also help reduce customer wait times by acting as your first line of defense. Chatbots help customer service teams move faster by fielding FAQs, collecting customer information, troubleshooting, and more.

2. Failing to create the right communications mix.

The mistake

There are two types of companies that make this mistake:

1. Company A: This is the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” company. They likely offer support through phone and email. Maybe they have a lightly-manned web chat feature on their site. The problem is, they don’t know that this way IS broken.

These companies are holdovers from a bygone era. They probably still think customer service is a drain on their company resources (instead of the moneymaker that it is).

Then there’s Company B…

2. Company B: They are excited and ready to hit the ground running. They’re on all the platforms, but they don’t have a strategy and they definitely don’t have a conversational platform.

While their enthusiasm counts for a lot, agents will be stretched too thin to serve customers everywhere at once. Being everywhere without a plan is just as likely to leave customers frustrated and unhappy.

Both companies are making the same big mistake: They’ve selected the right communications mix for their business, but not the right mix for their customers.

The fix

The fix for both companies is actually the same. Start with a strategy.

Meet the basics first. Give customers a way to instantly connect with your team. Ideally, that’s web chat (also called live chat), SMS text messaging, and voice.

Once you have their instant needs met, look to be available to customers on their terms. Do they hang out on Twitter? Instagram? Choose the platforms that make sense for your customer base. And don’t forget to add channels like Google Business Messaging and Apple Messages for Business to be easily accessible from your customers’ phones.

A key piece to making these multiple platforms work is having a conversational platform like Quiq. It can help agents manage multiple conversations across channels and ensure seamless customer experiences.

3. Using outdated methods of customer service.

The mistake

In the past, tiered customer service models reigned supreme. It treated customer service like a video game. Customers start at the first level, a typical IVR system or intake agent, and level up to the next “boss” until their problem got solved.

There’s a lot wrong with that model.

It perpetuates the “let me speak to your manager” attitude, making customers think they can get different answers than your agents are providing if they go one step up the leadership chain. Agents might not feel supported by their leaders, which could lead to low morale and faster burnout as a result. Methods like these are likely partially responsible for how customer service agents feel about their jobs. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends report, 38% say the service team is not treated as well as others in the organization.

It’s also not great for your customers. They’ll likely have to repeat themselves with each new person they speak with, which is a big pet peeve for many. In fact, 71% of global customers expect a company to share information so they don’t have to repeat themselves.

Plus, it simply takes longer to resolve. It prohibits you from giving customers the fast, frictionless experience they expect—and deserve.

The fix

Move to a collaboration model of customer service. Customer service tools like CRM software and conversational platforms make it easy for agents to work together to solve customer issues as they come up.

Managers, technicians, engineers, IT, or anyone on your team can pop into customer conversations to solve problems. They can read the conversation history, take a look at snippets, and review the sentiment analysis to see how the conversation is going and how they can help solve the problem. Customers are happy because they don’t have to repeat themselves, and agents don’t feel like they’re the blunt end of a battering ram.

4. Ignoring touchpoints in your customer service journey.

The mistake

Is your team especially helpful until the customer hands over their credit card? Good customer service doesn’t stop at the sale. It also doesn’t exist just to answer post-purchase questions. What makes good customer service great is the attention to the entire customer service journey.

54% of customers say that customer service feels like an afterthought, according to Zendesk.

The fix

When you’re small, it’s easy to just wing customer service. You’re so busy that you simply deal with problems as they come up. But once you’ve scaled your customer service team, it’s time for a thoughtful strategy.

Take a look at every customer touchpoint and see what you can do to improve the customer service experience. After your guests purchase an airline ticket, can you provide FAQs about their travel destination? Can you do more early in the buying process to help ease decision-making? What about questions that pop up on social media?

5. Not proactively engaging with customers.

The mistake

Businesses with high volumes of customer server inquiries are especially prone to making this mistake. Your agents are busy handling myriad customer requests, which run the gamut from simple FAQs to more complex problems. Every day is a mixed bag, and it’s hard to adequately prepare.

The bigger problems are the complaints not being addressed. What are your customers dealing with that you don’t hear about? How much of your customer churn is related to service and product issues that you never even hear about?

The fix

The best kind of customer service is the kind that solves problems before they happen. Make note of the top FAQs and see what you can do to help customers find these answers without having to reach out. Some common questions, like “Where’s my order?” can be solved by sending outbound messages with tracking links and order updates. Minimize sizing questions by proactively offering sizing consultations. Share video tutorials. Getting ahead of these questions can free up your team for more complex problems.

6. Expecting agents to learn on the fly.

The mistake

You have a CRM. You have your product guide books/service manuals/insert whatever written learning materials you have—that should be enough to get new agents started, right? Not quite.

Only 20% of customer service agents are extremely satisfied with their training, according to Zendesk. But they’re not the only ones that notice it. Your customers do, too, with 68% saying it feels like most businesses need to improve their customer service agents’ training.

The fix

At the very least, ensure your agents have access to product and customer information at their fingertips. Your CRM software and product databases should be integrated into your conversation platform. Your agents should be able to access information easily and quickly to give your customers that seamless experience they crave.

But just because your agents don’t need to memorize as much product information as they used to doesn’t mean you can skimp on training. Shift training to focus on soft skills, like effective communication, conflict resolution, and creative problem-solving.

7. Not actively listening to your customers.

The mistake

Customer service often feels like “the complaint department.” When your customer service team deals with frequent complaints, there’s a risk of apathy. Agents can get overwhelmed and stop caring about customer issues. It’s too easy to deal with immediate problems without looking for long-term solutions.

The mistake isn’t just about not listening to your customers. It’s also about showing that you’re listening to your customers. You may have closed-door conversations about how to improve products and services—but if customers don’t hear it or see it, did it really happen?

The fix

This mistake takes a multi-pronged approach, depending on which feedback facet you’re facing.

When customers don’t feel valued when chatting with agents: It’s time for some empathy training. Sometimes it’s not enough to solve customers’ problems, they want to be heard and understood. Offer empathy training to your agents as part of the onboarding process, and offer refresher courses a couple of times a year. Your agents likely face the same outside stressors that your customers do, so help them manage stress during difficult times.

When customers feel like their feedback goes right into the trash bin: When customers voice larger complaints, the last thing they want to hear is a trite “Thank you, we’ll elevate this issue to the appropriate channels.” They want to know their complaint or suggestion was heard by the right people—and that someone is doing something about it. Create a systemized way to collect feedback and put it into action, then share your system.

When you’re only hearing crickets: No complaints. Great, right?! Maybe. Maybe you aren’t giving your customers the space to do so. Be sure to solicit customer feedback through frequent customer satisfaction surveys. Customers will have a place to be heard, and you’ll have valuable information to improve your products and services.

Refocus on your customer service.

When so many things are out of your control, the best thing to do is refocus on your customers. Avoiding these common mistakes in customer service will help you provide a frictionless experience that keeps them coming back for more.

How to Use Live Chat Throughout Your Customer Journey

How do you connect with customers throughout their purchase journey? Are you using live chat at every touchpoint?

Many businesses see live chat, also known as web chat, as just another tool for your customer support center. Leaders may see it as a necessary expense in order to connect with today’s online customers.

But live chat is so much more than that.

Let’s take a look at how you can use live chat at every stage of the customer journey.

What is customer journey mapping, anyway?

Customer journey mapping is the exercise of laying out how customers engage with your business before, during, and after they make a purchase.

Traditionally, it consists of five stages.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision/acquisition
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

In the stone age—that is, back before the age of the internet—consumers would identify a problem, see an advertisement, compare prices, walk into a store, and make a purchase. If they liked the product or the store, they would make frequent trips back and tell their friends about it.

Things are a little more complicated these days. While today’s customers follow a similar path, a few things have changed. Customers often move back and forth between each stage, with many smaller steps in between.

The biggest change is that now your website is the main hub—and it has to do a lot more of the heavy lifting. It’s where you drive all your traffic, convert customers, and impress them enough to come back. It has now become the main pillar of your customer journey.

When mapping your customer journey, your goal is to get people to your website and serve them to meet their current stage. That’s where live chat comes in.

Serve customers at every stage of their purchase journey with live chat.

Live chat typically lives on the bottom right corner of your website, and it can follow customers as they navigate across pages. Based on which pages they spend time on, you can craft unique messaging (using live agents or chatbots) to target where they are in their customer journey.

And it’s vital to meeting today’s customer expectations. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when contacting a business.

Instantaneous messaging channels like live chat satisfy that need for instant answers.

Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate live chat into your customer journey.

Be helpful during the awareness stage.

The awareness stage is all about customers realizing they have a problem and that there’s a solution out there to solve it. For retailers, this could be as simple as a customer who’s suffering in the heat, so they realize they’re ready to buy an air conditioner.

They likely don’t know what kind, their budget, or where, but they know they want one.

Maybe they searched for top air conditioners and found themselves on your website. While some businesses may see them as a lead to be captured, their not at that place yet. They are simply gathering information.

For customers in the awareness stage, live chat is best spent welcoming a customer and directing them to various resources on your website.

The best way to do that? With a chatbot.

How to loop in a chatbot: At this stage, it might not be feasible for agents to dedicate their time to answering broad questions. Leverage a chatbot to welcome newcomers to your website and direct them to informational resources—like your knowledge base, blog posts, or frequently asked questions.

Quiq’s AI chatbot helps resolve 80% of inbound inquiries, freeing up your customer service agents to spend time farther down the customer journey.

Wow them at the consideration stage.

At the consideration stage, your customers have likely narrowed down the competition but haven’t made a decision yet. Maybe they know they’re going to Hawaii but are still considering whether to go to a boutique hotel or stay at an Airbnb. Or perhaps they’ve selected an island and just need to pick between the swath of available resorts.

This is the point where you need to stand out. Customers are looking to narrow down their options. If you don’t impress them right away, you won’t make the shortlist.

Proactively engage with customers using live chat to help them navigate your website. Ask them questions to gauge their needs and direct them to the appropriate high-converting pages.

How to loop in a chatbot: When customers reach the consideration phase, they’re closing in on making a purchase. While it’s a good idea to engage live agents to help customers one-on-one and close the deal, a chatbot can help get the conversations started. Design the bot to answer simple questions and direct customers to an agent for more personalized help.

Push them over the decision hump at the acquisition stage.

You’ve made the shortlist—heck, you’re probably #1 on that list—and the customer is *this* close to making a purchase. This is when your live chat function is crucial.

Make sure your live chat is visible and engaging with users at key points in the decision-making process. For example, be available when customers get to their cart. That’s typically when they have last-minute questions, and any clicking away from that page could interrupt their momentum.

Here are a few ways you can entice buyers with live chat at the decision phase:

  • After answering a few product questions, suggest a product demo.
  • Remove friction by ensuring easy access to frequently asked questions.
  • Offer personalized incentives on the purchase page.
  • Loop sales team members into live chat conversations.

How to loop in a chatbot: Program engagement triggers that start with your chatbot. If a customer has been stalled in their cart for more than three minutes, send in a bot to answer those hesitations or offer them a well-timed discount code. If a user has bounced around between pricing tiers, send over a blog post that helps them compare. Figure out which obstacles are in your customers’ way and use automation to help get past them.

Increase retention with always-on support.

Customer retention is all about meeting expectations. Did the customer get the results they expected from your product or service? Did they have the experience they were hoping for?

Great customer service is the best way to improve customer retention—and live chat makes that happen with speed and accessibility.

Think about the last time you needed customer service. Chances are, you were in the middle of something and needed immediate help. Your customers face the same hurdles. They’re implementing your software and run into a roadblock. They have to reschedule a guided kayak tour and can’t remember the policies.

Whatever the case may be, stopping for a phone call or waiting hours (or days) for a return email stalls their momentum and complicates their customer experience. Live chat makes it easy for customers (whether they’re in the middle of making a purchase or actively using your product or service) to get quick answers. Quick answers lead to higher customer satisfaction and a better chance they’ll come back for repeat business.

How to loop in a chatbot: Always-on support isn’t realistic without the help of chatbots (unless you hire a lot of agents to cover your chat 24/7. Use a chatbot to respond to customers when your agents are out of office. At the very least, you can design conversations that collect information for agents to respond to when they’re available. You can also have bots walk customers through troubleshooting, answer simple questions, and direct them to helpful resources on your site.

Make advocates out of all your customers.

Not every customer will become an advocate for your company, but you should certainly do everything in your power to encourage it. And live chat can help you do just that.

Since live chat is…well, live…it’s a great tool to encourage in-the-moment reviews and survey responses. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by including it right in the conversation so they never have to leave the chat.

How to loop in a chatbot: Chatbots are ideal for this task. After your live agent finishes helping the customer, hand off the conversation to a chatbot to collect feedback and encourage reviews.

Embrace live chat in the customer journey.

It’s easy to see live chat as just another support tool. It functions a lot like phone conversations in your call center—and you probably use the same people to staff it. But with the right tools and strategy in place, live chat enhances every stage of the customer journey.

5 Tips to Improve E-commerce Customer Service

What do customers want from your e-commerce business? Did you think of products first?

That’s a good guess but think again.

Do you buy from Amazon because you’re getting the best products? Probably not. It’s more about how easy it is to find and buy what you want, how quickly you get it, and how easy it is to make returns. More than individual products, they’re selling an experience.

In Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, 88% of consumers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or service.

The customer experience drives success, especially in a digital-first world. Yes, this includes your products, but it’s also about engaging with your customers, streamlining purchases, and getting ahead of issues before they happen.

Let’s explore what your e-commerce experience encompasses, and discuss tips to improve e-commerce customer service.

The elements of e-commerce customer service.

E-commerce businesses face a unique challenge. (And at this point, who isn’t running their business online?) You have to create connections and build your entire customer service strategy online without frequent face-to-face interactions.

At the same time, customer expectations are increasing. Customers expect businesses to understand their unique needs and expectations (73%) and anticipate their needs (62%). They also want to connect with brands emotionally (62%). Those are much taller orders for online businesses of the past.

Before we jump into e-commerce customer service tips, let’s take a look at the elements that go into it.

Solve customers’ problems.

A key part of your customer service strategy involves attending to customer issues. Speed, convenience, and clarity are important factors.

But that’s where many businesses’ customer service plans stop. While resolution must be the pillar of your strategy, it’s just the beginning.

Help customers make purchase decisions.

Upselling and cross-selling are important customer service functions, but your team should also be available at key points in the purchase process.

If customers view your sizing guide, program a chatbot to start a conversation using web chat (also known as live chat). Suggest accessories to go with their new computer when they view the cart. Assisting with and validating your customers’ decisions will help increase revenue and add value to their interactions.

Build customer loyalty.

Digital transformation has accelerated over the last few years. Now, customers interact with businesses more online than they do in person. Salesforce reports that 60% of customer interactions now happen online.

With more online competition, it takes more to stand out—but you can with customer service. In fact, 90% of consumers say customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand, reports Microsoft.

5 tips to improve e-commerce customer service.

Online shoppers want instant replies and easy answers. E-tailers catering to their customers in these ways will benefit from consistently refining their service, sales, and marketing communication strategies. Five common ways to improve e-commerce customer service include using the following communication channels and automation.

1. Engage with customers at their convenience.

The biggest problem with phone conversations (of any kind, but it stands out with the ones you don’t want to have) is that it requires nearly your entire focus. There’s no going about your day engaging in other conversations, and there’s very little room for multitasking.

That’s why messaging has become so popular. In today’s fast-paced world, your customers need flexible communications. They need asynchronous messaging.

Asynchronous messaging doesn’t require both people to be present at the same time to have a conversation. Whereas phone calls and live chat typically require the attention of both parties to have a conversation, asynchronous messaging, like SMS/texting, doesn’t. Your customers get their questions answered, and your customer service agents can manage multiple conversations at once.

Provide asynchronous service with text messaging:

Text messaging for customer service is fast and convenient, making it easy for e-commerce companies to connect with customers. This shopper-friendly channel allows consumers to be on-the-go while getting answers to product questions, order information, or processing returns.

An asynchronous conversation like SMS/texting enables e-commerce businesses to move at the speed and cadence of their customers, creating a convenient and modern online shopping experience.

2. Offer on-demand support through the customer journey.

Admittedly, you lose something when shopping online instead of at a brick-and-mortar store. Customer service is (generally) readily available when you shop in person, and online shopping can feel impersonal when done wrong.

Customers on your website may have many options for finding answers, like an FAQ page, sending an email, or calling. Yet e-commerce customer service is at its best when it recreates the feeling of shopping at a small boutique. It takes quick, easily accessible customer service to do that.

Create on-demand support with web chat.

Web chat gives e-commerce businesses fast and easy ways to connect with customers at multiple points in the buying journey.

Typically presented in the lower right corner of your website, web chat lets customers connect instantly with your customer service team (or an AI-powered chatbot) whenever they need assistance.

Give your customers the fast service they expect, especially at critical junctures. Being available to answer questions when they’re adding items to the cart or completing a purchase can help close sales. Without web chat, customers may save their purchase for another day or find what they are looking for elsewhere altogether.

Web chat is a critical part of any e-commerce website to ensure customers are helped at every point in the customer journey, from product recommendations to purchase confirmations or follow-up questions.

3. Be where conversations are happening.

While “owned” forms of communication (like web chat, email, and phone support) are critical, waiting for customers to come to you is no longer enough. Wherever your brand has a presence, you should be prepared to offer the same service on your social media channels that customers expect directly from your website. To them, it’s essentially the same thing.

But more than that, being available where your customers are can actually boost revenue. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report, 93% of customers will spend more with companies that offer their preferred method to reach customer service (for example, web chat or text messaging). So extending your customer service reach across multiple channels is good for your customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

Do it with social media.

Engage with your customers across social media platforms to build advocacy and highlight your brand in the broader marketplace. These platforms offer more opportunities to connect with consumers in direct messages to answer questions and be a part of the conversation.

Before diving into multiple social media platforms, identify where your customers hang out the most.

Facebook remains the most used social media platform among US adults (69%), according to the Pew Research Center, with the following platforms coming somewhere in the middle.

But remember, numbers differ drastically depending on age. For example, 71% of 18 to 29-year-olds report using Instagram and 70% use Facebook. Pick the platforms that will have the biggest impact and provide the same level of customer service you do on your e-commerce site.

4. Provide proactive customer service.

The best kind of customer service? The kind that actually prevents problems before they happen. Right now, only 64% of customers say that B2C companies meet their needs and expectations, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report. Proactive customer service helps build trust and makes your customers feel supported and willing to purchase from you again.

If you’re looking to build trust (and increase sales as a result), proactive customer service is the way to do it. Two of the top 5 actions that build trust are to resolve issues proactively (#4) and to communicate proactively (#5), according to Salesforce. And you can do it with outbound messaging.

Embrace outbound messaging.

Online retailers reap huge rewards by keeping their customers in the know. A prime example is order status. You can eliminate a large number of customer service questions by proactively including tracking links and status updates for every shipped item.

Outbound text messaging is an incredibly effective way to communicate with consumers. Text messages have much higher read rates than other forms of written communication (like emails). It also allows you to provide personalized coupon codes, upcoming sales, or restock notifications.

The best solutions don’t stop at just sending outbound messages. Businesses should also enable 2-way conversations so consumers can respond and have agents or bots standing by to help answer any questions.

5. Provide always-on service.

Since customers can now order at all times of the day, they also expect the same from your customer service. While you can’t ask your support team to always be at the ready, you can ask that from chatbots.

Turn to chatbots—they never sleep.

Chatbots are truly revolutionizing e-commerce to encourage more sales and are becoming a key part of customer service strategies to improve customer satisfaction.

According to Zendesk, 47% of US consumers believe AI (like the kind used in chatbots) should improve customer service quality. Chatbots are always available to answer pre- or post-sales questions, assist shoppers with their selections, provide order and shipping information, and answer common questions. From quick answers to always-on responsiveness to AI-enhanced suggestions, chatbots can help satisfy customers and improve revenue.

But chatbots don’t just increase your revenue—they also help your bottom line. Retailers and e-commerce companies are increasingly leaning on the efficiency and cost savings that chatbots provide.

Chatbots help your customer service team move faster. They’re becoming increasingly useful for companies with high traffic volumes, speeding up response times, resolving common problems, and even conducting customer surveys. They can also perform critical tasks, like assisting agents and routing the most high-value conversations to the front of the line.

Make your customer service stand out with Quiq.

For e-commerce businesses, customer service is more important than ever. Standing out in the crowded online space is difficult, but it’s possible with the right strategies and tools.

Now that you know how to improve online customer service, it’s time to take action. You can improve e-commerce customer service for your business in a number of ways, from implementing business messaging software to including automation with bots into your customer service strategy. Whatever your company’s goals, Quiq is here to help you create the ultimate online customer service strategy.

Do You Know Your Customer Churn Rate?

Customer churn rate is a scary metric. Left unchecked, it’s a silent business killer.

It’s especially important for companies who rely on recurring revenue, such as subscription clothing services, meal delivery, or membership programs. But that doesn’t mean other types of businesses should ignore it. Repeat customers are important to any business—which is why understanding churn is critical.

Before we give you the strategies to improve your churn rate, let’s back up and discuss what it is and why it matters to your business.

What is customer churn?

Customer churn rate (or customer attrition rate) measures how many customers you lose over a given period of time. It’s also the exact opposite of your customer retention rate.

It’s important to look at churn along with your customer acquisition (which measures how effectively you’re acquiring customers). The two measurements and their respective strategies essentially keep your business running: One gets customers in the door, and the other tells you how to keep them.

Why is customer churn rate important? Because your average customer needs to stick around long enough (or make high enough purchases) to more than cover your customer acquisition costs. If they don’t, you’re operating at a loss.

How to calculate churn:

  1. Figure out how many customers you have at the beginning of a period of time.
  2. Find the number of customers you lost in that time period (don’t forget to account for new customers).
  3. Divide the number of customers you lost by the number of customers you started out with.
  4. Multiply by 100 to determine the percentage.

For example, here’s what it would look like if we had 100 customers at the beginning of the month and 90 customers at the end of the month:

  • Customers lost ÷ customers at the start of the month x 100 = customer churn
  • 10 ÷ 100 x 100 = 10%

In this example, your customer churn rate would be 10%.

The first step to reducing customer churn is to understand it.

Now that you’ve calculated your customer churn rate, it’s time to understand what that number really means.

Before you jump to sweeping conclusions (we’ve all been there!), take a wider look at your business. Was there anything unique happening in your business, the industry, or even globally that could be skewing your numbers? Make sure to account for it.

Next, figure out how to benchmark your numbers. Is there an industry standard? Are you comparing year over year? There’s no wrong way to do it—you just need to be consistent.

It’s also important to remember that despite your best efforts, you will have customer churn. And it isn’t always bad. If you’re revamping a service, targeting a new customer, or redesigning products, some churn is expected, or even a good thing, as long as it’s controlled with a new influx of customers.

Another example of expected churn is when subscription services, be it clothing, meal delivery, or SaaS, see a drop-off in the first month or two of service.

New customers are trying your service or product and determining if it’s a fit for them. When the product doesn’t click, they drop off quickly.

Now, if it gets out of control and you have a hard time keeping clients, you need to rethink your service. But it’s mostly an expected and planned occurrence.

Keep that in mind when you take a first look at your numbers.

Find the problem areas.

Once you have your churn rate, you can start figuring out how to reduce it. The best place to start? Customer surveys.

Survey customers at pivotal moments in their customer journey—particularly where you see the biggest drop off. Start with these three key junctures.

1. After their first purchase.

Theoretically, this is when they’re most excited. Use this survey to see how to capture that excitement and share it with all of your customers. Of course, the opposite could also be true. This is when they feel that first wave of disappointment. As uncomfortable as that is, you need to know when it’s happening and why so you can prevent it from happening again.

2. When they haven’t logged in or made a new purchase.

When customers aren’t excited, they often go silent. They forget you exist, forget they signed up for a program, or even that they purchased a subscription. Pick a time period that makes sense for your business and reach out with a survey. Maybe it’s 15 days or even a month. (Pro tip: Try to avoid those passive-aggressive, “Did you forget about us?” emails that no one likes.)

3. When they’ve canceled or gone completely silent.

At this point, you know something is wrong. Whether they haven’t made a purchase in six months or outright canceled your services, it really helps to know why. While it can be difficult to ask a customer who no longer uses your product to help you improve, this will give you the most valuable feedback on how you can reach customers like them in the future.

Once you have your churn rate and feedback from customers at these key stages, you can take decisive action.

4 ways to reduce customer churn.

There are many factors that go into your churn rate, but messaging is a big one. How you connect and engage with customers impacts their experience, whether you’re selling a flight to Rome or a healthy version of cacio e pepe.

Here’s how messaging helps reduce churn rate and where you should implement it.

1. Revamp new customer onboarding.

We tend to think that customer onboarding only applies to software technologies or online classes, and the like, but any business can build an onboarding experience. When a customer makes their first purchase, don’t just send an order confirmation. Craft an experience that walks them through the first purchase and leads them toward the next. Start with these messaging ideas:

  • Send a welcome email.
  • Share product or service information.
  • Point them toward a knowledge-base or FAQ page.
  • Invite them into a brand community and to connect on social.
  • Text them a discounted offer on their next purchase.
  • Tell them about your rewards program.
  • Encourage them to connect with customer support when they have questions.

Welcoming your customers with support and extra benefits will demonstrate your brand’s value right from the start.

2. Revisit brand and product messaging.

Your churn rate heavily depends on customer expectations. If customers expect something that your product or service doesn’t give them, they’ll be disappointed—no matter how great it actually is.

Take a look at your brand messaging, your product descriptions, and any other marketing materials. Is everything accurate? Are you overpromising? Make sure you leave some room to overdeliver and wow your customers from the first interaction.

3. Make customer service fast and accessible.

Churn rates are often attributed partly to the customer service team (although it’s merely a very important piece of a larger puzzle). And it makes sense to involve your customer service team. After all, the opposite of customer churn is customer retention. In Zendesk’s CX Trends Report, 60% of business leaders agreed that customer service improves retention.

Make your support team easily accessible from wherever your customers are. Save the call center for complex problems, and instead answer questions with business messaging. Start by identifying which digital channels they frequent most and make your service team available on them.

4. Be proactive with at-risk customers.

After you’ve collected data to help you determine your customer churn triggers (think immediately after the tutorial, after a week of not logging in, or on the checkout page), engage customers at those key points. See if they need extra support, resources, or help checking out.

Being proactive helps you prevent customer churn by solving issues early in the process before a customer disengages.

Embrace messaging to lower customer churn.

Now that you have a better idea of what churn rate is, you can take the steps to reduce it. When you spend time on keeping your customers instead of just attracting new ones, your business benefits on both ends (revenue and costs).