Avoiding churn is one of the most important things that a SaaS company can do. The cost of acquiring a new customer is much higher than the cost of selling to an existing one. But while the specific reasons for churn can vary, they all share a common thread — unhappy customers.
For customer service teams, this presents a unique opportunity to provide value. Since support has the most direct interaction with your customers, it’s also in the best position to keep them happy. One way to do this is through he proper management and curation of self-serve support forums.
Below, we look at some of the specific reasons for churn, and how community management can address them.
Use Data to Identify the Customers that Matter
Although it might be uncomfortable to say out loud, the reality is that not all customers are created equal. In a world where customer support departments are constantly pushed to the brink of their capabilities, knowing where to focus efforts is critical to driving ROI.
It's a cold, hard fact — some customers are more valuable to business than others. These are the customers you must focus on. The difficulty lies in identifying them. And as with all classification problems, the answer is more data.
Community forums provide an excellent means to collect the data you need to develop a clear picture of the customers you should be focusing on.
With proper backend integration, CS can easily be alerted when a high-value customer interacts with the forum. If the interaction shows that they're unsatisfied or need help, agents can quickly follow up. This gives the high-value customer an instant sense that the business is listening and willing to help.
Use Community Management to Anticipate Problems
By the time a customer is searching for an answer, you already have a problem. If you could anticipate every complication your customers may have, then churn wouldn't be an issue.
Customer service departments would need to become mind readers. But since that’s not currently possible, community management forums provide the next best thing.
A CS department with the tools to properly monitor their support forums gain a wealth of information about the customer experiencience and any associated problems. They can then use this knowledge to predict what problems customers may develop down the line.
This ability to map journeys more effectively is known to be one of the most critical parts of keeping customers happy.
For example, let's say there's a new product release. With the proper search functionality, CS agents can monitor their forums from the moment of launch in order to get real-time feedback about problems. They can then pass information on to developers to make changes quickly. Handling the process in this way is more efficient than waiting for emails to come in from unhappy customers.
The ability to adapt quickly to problems and minimize their impact will keep customers happy and reduce churn rates.
Provide Faster and More Intimate Customer Service Experiences
Similarly,, customer support response time has never been more important. In fact, new speed expectations are so great that research shows customers are less willing to wait more than a few hours for a response. But this can be very difficult when support is handled through email for the simple reason that it takes time to go through emails, classify them and then respond.
In contrast, properly managed community forums give agents real-time updates about what their customers are thinking. And with the enhanced data capabilities allowing them to identify the most important customers to respond to, the service time for a business’s most valuable customers can be greatly reduced.
And the faster you're able to get to a customer and fix the problem, the less likely they are to churn.
Make Sure Customers Know about your Support Forums for Simple Issues
Of course, customer service cannot put any of these powerful techniques to use if customers themselves are not aware that the forums exist. Therefore, the number one way to use forums to reduce churn is to make sure that customers know about them.
Too often, CS departments don’t do this, and instead expect customers to find their forums organically. But they are too valuable a resource to go un-advertised with a wait-and-see approach.
Instead, CS must be proactive about encouraging customers to search for support through the most effective channels. Because at the end of the day, the more effective the customer service, the less likely the customer is to churn.