Most organizations used to lump customers into 2 simple categories: New customers and “the rest of them.” New customer acquisition is often used to gauge success – the more we gain, the better we’re doing! And what about “the rest of them?” They’re all getting automatically e-charged and they seem happy because they’re not complaining. This is how we get lulled into thinking everything’s working well.
But meanwhile, we have at-risk customers who are ready and willing to defect to competitors when the right opportunity presents itself.
Who are your at-risk customers?
Before you can develop a strategy around at-risk customers, you first need to identify them.
These are customers who are not happy or just “meh” about what your brand does for them. Not since they were shiny new customers have they felt cared for. They don’t have strong opinion about what you think are the best features of your product or service. They may have had one bad experience with a contact center rep and decided that was enough to open the door to consider switching. Or maybe they have been trying to share feedback, but don’t feel heard.
Whether or not it’s a total loss is up to you.
You may not be able to stop all of your at-risk customers from leaving you, but you can learn a lot about preventing putting future customer relationships at risk!
1. Identify what happens when a customer defects.
There are some hard-to-forget customer stories about those customers who left for your competitors. Find out if there are common themes among those who left. Determine if there is a moment in the customer journey when they are most likely to leave. Look for trend lines with product renewals versus cancels or those who leave after X number of months or years.
2. Set up alerts to get more details.
If one of the identifiers is a customer who has used your product for 6 months or less, then reaching out to them before that deadline is imperative. Set up triggers at intervals throughout the onboarding process to reach out and see if that customer needs support. Ask for input – don’t just offer training or webinars that are solely product-centered. Ask for what might be missing.
3. Know the ideal customer journey.
Know it, understand it, and watch for ways to support it.
Your best customers probably use your product more often than those who will leave. If you know what the ideal journey looks like through customer journey mapping, then it will stand out when your customers veer away from the ideal and lapse into not relying on your brand.
4. Don’t be afraid of the exit interview.
“Ya win some, ya lose some” seems to be how many organizations avoid thinking about at-risk customers. “It’s not for everyone.” The best brands never shrug this off as insignificant. Seek feedback when a customer leaves. Ask the hard questions about why they left and who ended up serving their needs. Use that information to inform your roadmap for improvements.
5. Treat former customers like friends, not enemies.
Without a plan for at-risk customers, organizations lump former customers back into the “prospect” category. This means the customers who had relationships with the brand start receiving communications as if they didn’t. It can be offensive to a loyal customer who suddenly is treated like a stranger. We have to do better than sending promotions and offers to them as if they have no idea what it’s like to be a customer.
Do you have a strategy around at-risk customers?
What else can be done to identify customers who are about to jump ship? How can we learn from those who already have? Reply below to share your ideas!