Is 2023 the Year of Churn for the Channel?

Help protect your business' valuation and bottom line as you learn ways to avoid churn and retain customers.

Janet Schijns

January 27, 2023

4 Min Read
Is 2023 the Year of Churn for the Channel?


Janet Schijns

We’ve all heard the term “churn” used in our industry, as it’s been a key metric for most partners and vendors/suppliers for a long time. But just because it’s a key metric doesn’t mean you’re managing your churn risk in the most effective manner.

Let’s face it, this year it seems more important than ever to retain customers. In a time of economic strife, retaining customers takes the spotlight, particularly when the sentiment in many firms is that they need to cut their IT spend to make budgets this year. And where do they start? With existing services.

Churn is a risk to your business bottom line and your business valuation as well. This year that risk is higher than ever due to spending in the pandemic panic buying spree that’s now coming home to roost as IT budgets are under attack by CFOs everywhere. They’re asking questions like why do we need more than one collaboration platform? A good question, too, considering that more than 70% of firms have two or more platforms.

This is our reality and what we need to defend against, or experience record-high churn.

That’s why, as we look to #savethechannel, I am going to write here in Channel Futures this year about what’s happening with churn, how you can better manage the risk and unique ways to retain customers. I’ll also share other helpful hints to help you hold on to what is yours — your customers.

Churn Management

We all know that churn management is critical for your business success because it helps partners like you retain existing customers, which is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. And, retaining customers can also lead to increased revenue due to repeat purchases, upselling and referrals. That’s the stuff high-growth firms are made of in the channel and how you want to run your business, this year and every year.

So today let’s start with the basics of how to develop a churn-management plan that can help your business avoid churn and set you up for growth. Then in future articles I will dig in on specific topics to help you succeed in our new economy.

Strategic Approach

There are several strategies that partners can implement in their churn-reduction plan:

  1. Define your minimum acceptable customer-experience levels: Publish them for your entire firm to see and agree upon.

  2. State your churn reduction or retention goals: Have a metric for turnover and measure to it, at minimum, monthly. Any increase in churn should be addressed immediately.

  3. Start reducing churn by improving your onboarding process: Create a personalized onboarding process to help new customers get the most out of your product or service. It will increase their satisfaction and reduce the chances of churn long term because you end as you start with most customers.

  4. Implement a customer feedback system: Collect feedback and then address issues customers have identified as reasons for complaining or leaving.

  5. Incent loyalty: Offer incentives, bonuses, access to new services, etc., first to customers who have been with you a long time to reward their loyalty.

  6. Have a churn-reduction communication plan: Regular helpful communications about changes, promotions, new service, etc., can continue to convince customers they made the right choice.

  7. Know the local reps of your biggest suppliers/vendors: Form a positive relationship so they can advise you or work with you to avoid churn.

  8. Keep an eye on the competition: See what they’re doing to retain customers and/or steal your customers and act accordingly.

  9. Identify at-risk customers: Rather than sweeping the risk under the carpet, call it out and then work proactively to retain them.

Stick the Landing

For bonus points in helping to help retain customers, you can also do more marketing activities that encourage a sense of community amongst your clients, such as hosting customer events, implementing loyalty programs or creating an online community for customers to connect. These help to create “stickiness” with customers and deepen your bonds with them across new vectors.

This is the year to avoid churn at all costs. We will be digging into these topics and showing you how to take action, outmaneuver your competitors, retain revenue and keep more than your fair share of the business all year long. Join us!

Janet Schijns is CEO and co-founder of JS Group, a go-to-market acceleration firm. She is a Top 50 Channel Influencer (Channel Futures) and was named Channel Influencer of the year in 2019. Schijns was formerly EVP and CMSO at Office Depot, was Verizon’s chief channel executive and chief marketing technologist and ran the channel organization for Motorola Enterprise and government. She co-founded the nonprofit Tech World’s Half in 2017 to address the issue of women dropping out of technology, and WomWon in 2021 to help women establish financial independence. Schijns also speaks about empowering and advancing women in the technology industry. You may follow her on LinkedIn or @channelsmart on Twitter.

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