For MSPs in high-growth mode, customer churn is a persistent problem. You add new clients every month, but turnover is leaving your overall growth rate only slightly up or flat. You are replacing customers instead of growing your total portfolio, and it seems like the business is running in place.
The old children’s campfire song implores us to “make new friends but keep the old”--a valuable approach in both life and business. But how do you balance your efforts between attracting new business and retaining your existing clients? Some simple strategies can help.
Check-in: A short weekly call with your existing customers can go a long way toward keeping them happy. Make sure your products are working well, and ask customers about any other issues they may be experiencing. If your client list is too long for weekly calls, then schedule quarterly reviews instead. Regular e-mails and occasional visits should be part of your approach, as well.
These contacts can help head off any possible problems with your systems before they reach the point of undermining the client relationship, and it can also help you identify new business opportunities.
Embrace social media: A social media presence is more than just a marketing tool; it’s a channel for customer communication. Increasingly, customers are reaching out to their vendors on platforms like Facebook to ask questions, check for product news/updates, and lodge complaints. Monitoring these messages and responding to them should be on your daily to-do list.
Proactively manage problems: All this communication over the phone, in person and via social media can give you more insight into your clients’ businesses and how well your products are performing for them. That makes it easier to head off any problems at the first sign of unhappiness. If a client begins showing signs of discontent, you can quickly deploy the resources you need to make them happy again.
Use customer surveys: Reaching out to your clients regularly will generate more customer feedback. Applying some structure to the process can make it easier to turn that feedback into actionable intelligence. Take formal surveys of your existing customers, and use that information to generate customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores that can help you measure your performance. Also, take net promoter score (NPS) surveys to find out how likely your clients are to recommend you to other companies. Put effort into improving those scores, and you will see churn rates drop.
Apply automation: Some of these customer retention tactics can sound “touchy-feely,” but a good sales or marketing professional knows that these customer contact strategies are some of the most reliable tools in their customer service toolbox. And, you can apply technology to help make the whole process easier. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you schedule all of those calls, quickly escalate any customer complaints to the right staff members, and spot looming service failures before they happen.
Set SMART goals: As you read through the tips above and identify new practices you’d like to add in, be sure to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive) goals to ensure you follow through. For example, if you’re going to start checking in with your existing customers, set goals for how many contacts per week and keep track of key details such as any problems uncovered (and resolved) and new upsell opportunities. By keeping track of these KPIs, you’ll see the value of your efforts and know whether further changes may be needed.
Remember the campfire song we mentioned earlier? Reducing churn isn’t that much different than maintaining your friendships. Stay in touch. Be nice and easy to work with. Listen and respond to what your customers are telling you (in person, on the phone and on social media).
Data from consulting firm ThinkJar indicates that 85 percent of customers leave because of service issues that could have been avoided. Taking the time to nurture your existing customer relationships can help reduce turnover, stabilize your customer base, and position your company for real growth.
Brian Babineau is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Barracuda MSP. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s managed services business, a dedicated team focused on enabling partners to easily deliver affordable IT solutions to customers.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.