Ever broken up with a significant other? Can be rough. Having a customer tell you that they’ll be doing business elsewhere can feel similar as dedicated Customer Success professionals. You’ve worked hard for your customer, done your best to help them meet their goals, and now they’re just going to leave you with a bad breakup email?
The “it’s not you; it’s me” line has validity for a customer leaving you because of an acquisition, business shutting down, or any other number or reasons. That said, the majority of the time there is something that you could have done either early in the relationship or further down the line to have retained that customer and make them successful. Now, it’s our duty to find out the true why.
I’m going to give you a few tips to get the why from a customer, to ensure you can avoid making the same mistake with other customers, and to help you win that customer back down the line.
Be Direct and Ask Why Immediately
You may have already blurted this out when they told you about the bad news without even realizing it. Getting to the root of the issue is going to be important and there’s no better time to find out why than right now.
It’s best when possible to do this on the phone so you can ask immediate follow up questions surrounding the decision without having a seemingly desperate back-and-forth email exchange begging for more feedback.
Always thank folks for taking the time to answer these questions. Let them know you still value the relationship.
Respect the Decision
Let them know that you respect their decision. Their guard is likely up right now. This will help you bring the guard down a bit which will allow you to ask the right questions and get to the core of why they decided to no longer do business with you.
Taking this approach also helps you set things off on a positive note vs. the negative one of cancelling. This will set you up for more engagement later and a potential opportunity to earn their business back down the line.
Now that they’re a bit more comfortable because of switching the conversation away from being a high-tension situation to a fact-finding call, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper. If you stop at “we didn’t see the value” or “we have different priorities for next year” as the reason for not renewing then you’re doing your customers, yourself, and your organization a disservice. Get clarity surrounding the exact reason they’ve decided you’re not longer a fit for their needs. There are tons of reasons why customers may not be using your SaaS solution.
By asking just one more, “Why” question you can often drum up so great opportunities to not only potentially save this customer, but to prevent other customers who may be in a similar situation from leaving as well.
Fix the Situation
If there’s truly nothing that can be done to save the customer then it’s OK – let it go but learn from it. We simply did something wrong during their time with us that didn’t fuel their success. If you don’t do something about it then you’re bound to be in the same situation very soon. Now it’s time to execute on the information you’ve been given.
A few important steps to take here:
- Track it. Whether you’re using a Customer Success software or simply a CRM – you need to make sure there’s a place to mark down the “why” both on a high-level (e.g. Cost, Experience, etc.) and a place to truly expand upon the reason. This allows you to later report on and address trends with product, marketing, and management.
- Do something about it. One of the roles we need to take on is that of the customer advocate. Think of yourself as an extension of their business within your organization. If you can truly take that stance then you can start to lead change that will ultimately help address the issues you’ve been presented with today.
Close the Loop
Your customer did you a great service by allowing you to ask questions and ensure you had a better handle on what you can do to improve their experience. You’ve done your due diligence and hopefully your team is focused enough on Customer Success to have taken the information and made changes as a result. If they happen to still be with you at this point then you need to rebuild the relationship.
If they’re already gone – then now you can re-engage the customer. Let them know how important their business is to you and that you respected their feedback so much that you’ve made a change as a result. This shows them how dedicated you are and allows you to reopen the door for bringing them back on as a customer now or later down the line.
There is a lesson to be learned from every single customer relationship and “breakup”. You need to be asking similar questions to existing customers regularly to avoid getting to this dreaded conversation in the first place. But if you find yourself in a situation where a customer is leaving – let’s at least learn and grow from the experience by asking the right questions, taking action, and closing the loop.
Customer Success Around the Web
- Customer Retention is the Unsung Hero of Business Growth. We all know that, in theory, it’s cheaper to keep our existing customer relationships healthy and strong than to set out to acquire new ones, and easier to successfully pitch products and services to them as well. But it’s one thing to know it and another to actually do it. Read on for tips on how to engage your customers and grow your business at CustomerThink.
- Is the Noise about B2B SaaS Customer Success Worth It? There are (and will be many more) products (in the SaaS space) that are similar in functionality, pricing and UI/UX etc. Therefore, for any recurring business the customer experience provided post-sale will therefore emerge to be the biggest differentiator for businesses to choose among products. Read on over at Medium.
- 5 Skills Reps Can Use to Improve Customer Success Rates: The ultimate verdict of customer success isn’t just in the hands of a specialized team; inside sales reps have a unique capacity to influence whether or not their customers thrive after a deal is closed. The journey to improved customer success rates begins well before a salesperson has even picked up the phone to call a prospect, and it continues for the entirety of the business relationship in various stages. Read on here.
Want to learn about Customer Health Scores, what they are, their goals, and how to create them?
Join Mikael Blaisdell from the Customer Success Association and Abby Hammer from ChurnZero for an infomrtive webinar that goes into the nitty gritty of the Why and How of customer health scores.
This is for both new and veteran Customer Success professionals.