One of the biggest concerns for any business is customer retention. This is especially true for subscription services that charge a recurring monthly or annual fee for access to an online product. Your service may be enticing and useful at first, but if you aren’t innovating or providing consistent value, you’ll quickly lose customers.
We asked the experts of Forbes Finance Council for tips on keeping subscription customers engaged and connected. Below they share 14 effective methods to reduce churn in an online subscription service.
1. Balance technology with the human touch.
We all want the efficiency and access that comes with subscription services, but sometimes we just need to talk to someone who can help us solve a problem quickly. Far too many subscription services today leave out the human touch, leaving clients underwhelmed. – Mia Erickson, Whitnell
2. Seek constant feedback.
I am a strong believer in getting constant feedback from your customers and your community. Ask what features to develop and learn their challenges. Once you get them involved in the product roadmap, they often feel that they are a part of your journey—they have a stake in the success of your product. The most engaged customers are usually the ones with the lowest churn rate. – Shiran Weitzman, Shield
3. Focus on frictionless onboarding.
The first three months are crucial to providing frictionless and engaging onboarding to “catch” the user. Invest in research and A/B tests to ensure you manage expectations, help users overcome difficulties and properly highlight the unique advantage of your product or service. – Dmitry Dolgorukov, HES Fintech
4. Review payment methods and renewal paths.
You can reduce churn—specifically mechanical churn—by reviewing your payment methods and paths for renewal as well as the reasons for payment failure. Additionally, you need to look at how, when and where you’re communicating payment failure with customers. – Andrew Lyon, Focused Energy
5. Offer a pause or a price reduction option.
It might be a good idea to offer customers the option to pause a subscription or to reduce the service and price for a limited time—especially in times when people are trying to reduce their personal spending. This way the business does not lose the customers, and it might be easier to win them back after a certain time. – Christoph Lymbersky, Visionary Founders Capital
6. Offer referral bonuses.
Interact with your subscribers and poll them for feedback on the subscription service. Give them referral bonuses when you sign up a client they recommend. Determine the value they receive, and keep adding to the value of the subscription. – Dave Sackett, ULVAC Technologies, Inc,
7. Carefully manage your email database.
Develop dynamic custom landing pages that match the emails you’re sending. Never, ever text unless it’s about shipping details. Surprise and delight—for example, give a discount that’s applied at checkout or offer free shipping. Don’t use it as a draw to bring a customer in, though; give it when they are onsite. And try harder with packaging—whatever happened to making folks feel special? – James Hewitt, CEO, Advisor, Angel Investor
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8. Monitor client usage.
Many customer-success teams only get involved when a client is coming up for renewal. Few things tell you how much a client likes your product as usage does. Check to see if all of your licenses are being used—if you sold 10 seats, but only five are being used, you need to find out why, or you may end up churning half of your account. – Aaron Spool, Eventus Advisory Group, LLC
9. Build a customer success roadmap.
Churn is usually an issue with product, pricing or customer success. For subscription services such as software or e-commerce, customer success is often the culprit. Businesses should have a roadmap that carries a customer from onboarding and implementation to their first success using the product. Regular touch points beyond that first success are critical to retention and customer stickiness. – Douglas Palmer, Ascend Capital Group
10. Understand why people subscribe in the first place.
The most underused subscriptions I see are gym memberships. People join gyms to get fit and healthy, but habits are hard to change, even if you have a gym membership. Your subscription model needs to help clients get the results they want to see. Think of the moment someone subscribes as the start of a conversation. – Brian Henderson, Whitnell
11. Invest in a customer-success team.
A customer-success team—specifically a customer-success manager—who prioritizes onboarding, enablement and support can not only reduce churn but also help you upsell existing customers (growth) and get valuable product feedback (innovation). To keep customers, you need to invest in improving their overall experience. A customer-success team can be at the forefront of that mission. – Zack Cook, Rigor
12. Increase the value you provide.
When you lose customers, it means you’re not providing enough value, so consider how you can offer enough value that customers can’t live without your product. Sometimes, this is as simple as touching base with customers and asking questions about where you can improve. Be sure to communicate regularly by building relationships in both human and digital ways. – Joe Camberato, National Business Capital & Services
13. Know your metrics.
When you understand the metrics, you’ll discover the months that the highest percentage of members drop. Typically you’ll discover a pattern. Provide extra bonuses or benefits to the members just before those months to remind them of the benefit of the membership and not just the cost. – David Gass, Anderson Business Advisors, LLC
14. Send out a customer happiness survey.
Feedback, feedback, feedback! Have a customer happiness survey that’s accessible to the customer in all communications. Send drip campaign check-in emails and ask if they are happy. Underpromise and overdeliver value-adds, such as a complimentary Q&A session with the founder. – Jackie Meyer, Meyer Tax, The Concierge CPA Coach