That's one leaky bucket

That’s one leaky bucket

Ahhh.. churn. The leaky bucket of death for SaaS everywhere. We’ve all read articles on how to make your product ‘sticky’ for users – so we can stop the dreaded customer churn. The idea is to give them such a great product (and such a great experience) that they keep coming back for more. That’s the dream!

The bad news is there are many many factors that contribute to your churn rate: customer service, onboarding, confusing product design etc. The good news is reducing and preventing user churn doesn’t have to be overly complicated or time consuming is you start on the right note and don’t just jump to solutions.

It all comes down to one thing:

Talk to your users!!

The number one best thing you can do: talk to your users. Segment your users into ‘customers that stay’ and ‘customers that leave’ and start doing research with both groups. Using even a basic analytics tool helps you highlight where your users are dropping off the most – a great starting point for your conversations with them.

In this case a survey just won’t do – ask ‘customers that leave’ open ended questions about their experience with the product and why they left. Their answers might be somewhere along the lines of ‘it was too hard to use’ or ‘it wasn’t what I thought it was’. Take very detailed notes and record these interviews if you can.

• Tip #1: Don’t take their answers personally, your users are just being honest
• Tip #2: Just let your users speak. Don’t defend the product. It might help to have someone who’s not directly involved ask the questions
• Tip #3: Always make sure to probe more for their expectations surrounding their experience

If their answers reveal that a majority of your users are having problems with one or two pages of your SaaS product but they’re not sure why try conducting usability testing on that page.

Take note of the types of customers that are leaving and when. Are they first time sign ups that fail to complete the free trial? Are they long time users of your freemium SaaS that never upgraded? Are they getting stuck on one page in particular?

• Tip #4: Look for clues and trends as to why your customers are leaving

Don’t forget about ‘customers that stay’! Interviewing them in the same manner about why they haven’t left will give you insights into what you’re doing well. Then play to your strengths.

• Tip #5: Talk to your loyal customers too

Once you’ve got some good data you might find it helpful to develop some personas around your different customer segments. Personas are useful for getting into your users’ mindset and empathizing with them.

• Tip #6: Develop personas for different customers

With these personas in place and your newfound deep empathetic understanding of your user segments and their needs you’ll be in a good position to start strategizing solutions… based on research rather than simply acting on trial and error.