Buyer , User , Startups , Scaleups — 05.14.2024

How to Translate Your Customer Churn

Katie Lukes, VP, Product Strategy & Research

These days when you’re tasked with doing more with less, it’s more important than ever to keep the customers you have. Budgets are tighter, and it’s becoming more difficult to market and sell to—and maintain—your customers.

At Innovatemap, we spend a lot of time talking to people about why they leave software, what their buying decision-making process is and what is most important to them. We’ve compiled some of the most common reasons we’ve heard people give for ultimately walking away from a software solution they were paying for. We’ve outlined what you should consider and experiment with to address the root issue.

For the following recommendations, we’re assuming that the customer is in the target market and they SHOULD be using the software. If you’re not 100% sure, start here: is this customer ideally positioned in our target market to find value in our software? 

“We just didn’t use it enough.”

We hear this when the software’s use case isn’t deeply integrated into the users’ day-to-day. This can often be the case for point solutions or “set it and forget it” software. 

If you’re hearing this reason for customer churn, consider: 

  • Are you reminding users of the value you’re bringing and activity that’s happening by, for example, sending email digests or updates? Are you incorporating value metrics in your home screen or dashboards?
  • Are you providing value through thought leadership in communications, especially when they’re not logging in? 
  • Have you provided a thorough onboarding to educate users on the full breadth of functionality?
  • Are there features you might incorporate that would trigger users to log in more frequently? Consider user research to learn your customers’ behaviors, challenges and ideal. 
  • Does your software integrate well into the other systems your customers are using? Integrations allow you to establish your software more firmly in your customers’ day-to-day activities.

“The user interface feels clunky.”

Over the past decade, user experience has transformed. Where business software could once get away with being a little visually awkward and a bit difficult to learn, users now expect (and deserve!) a consumer-oriented experience. They expect an attractive, streamlined interface that follows standard user experience best practices. 

A few ideas for teams re-considering the user experience of their software:

  • Take a step back to evaluate the look and feel of your user experience. If it’s dated or feels too “technical,” users can feel like it’s not modern, even if the functionality itself is state-of-the-art.
  • Follow user experience standards and best practices that users are accustomed to in other software.
  • Bring in user-friendly copy to guide users through the software in an approachable, enlightening way.
  • Incorporate your brand into the product in ways that bring in some personality and delight to what might otherwise be humdrum, everyday tasks.

“It was too complicated. I couldn’t understand how to use it and didn’t have time to figure it out.”

When users are overwhelmed out of the gate, particularly with software they may not use every day and in a domain where there are many alternatives, they’re quick to give up and move on to something else. 

You can address this by:

  • Introducing your users to the software in the beginning with guided and friendly onboarding that is both instructive and delightful.
  • Using feature onboarding to make existing users aware of new offerings and walking them through the functionality: Onboarding doesn’t stop with new users!
  • Making sure you’re not setting users up to fail: Reduce ways for them to make mistakes or produce something ugly or incomplete. You can help them with templates, suggested or recommended content and by seeding their accounts with sample data.
  • Re-examining your user experience design: Even very complicated software can guide users in an intuitive way through a workflow. 

“It was too expensive.”

Complaints on price are relative—they’re always rooted in the buyer’s perception of value. 

For your buyers who feel the value doesn’t meet the price, ask these questions to get to the root of the problem:

  • Does the software deliver on a high-value promise? Are you providing the features that go beyond what lower-priced competitors are offering? This means not just providing the tools to perform a task, but also making the user better at their job or making their outcome better.
  • Do they understand how to get value from the software? Is the user experience too complicated or value features too hidden to showcase the value? You might combat this with onboarding or by re-examining your user experience design.
  • Are they getting the value, but aren’t aware of it? Is the software lacking the feedback mechanisms to help people understand what they’re getting? Cybersecurity software tends to run into this issue because their value is in what they prevent from happening, and they can combat that lack of awareness by pushing reports and summaries that describe what’s happening behind the scenes.
  • Do they know that the value is available to them? Are you fully utilizing the power of product marketing to make users aware of what you offer and how they can take advantage of it? You can do this in your marketing materials but also from within the software itself.

When customer churn is an issue and it feels like you’re bleeding revenue, it can be easy to take knee-jerk actions that may not help and will confuse your team. 

Carefully investigate the real issues by talking to churned customers, taking time to ideate and prioritize experiments and communicating the plan to your team in a way that creates alignment around the issue and how you’ll address it. 

It can be extremely beneficial to engage an outside partner to conduct conversations and help identify these issues and solutions with unbiased eyes.

If you want to learn more or you’d like to find a partner who can help you resolve your customer churn issues, let’s talk.