Curb customer churn with preemptive workflows

by Alex Ortiz, VP Marketing Tray.io

You may be familiar with Gartner’s 80/20 principle (that 80 percent of your future profits will come from 20 percent of your existing customers). The hard part is solving the implicit problem within this breakdown: customer churn.

There’s no dearth of clichés on the web to help your sales and marketing teams improve customer retention. However, saying “show your customers gratitude,” or “be proactive in your customer relationships,” and even “don’t let your sales cycle atrophy” is like saying, “if you want to go to the moon, you need to build a rocket ship.”

 OK, how?

At Tray.io, we spent a lot of time thinking about these questions, and we came to this conclusion: If you can automate cross-application tasks, you can prompt action from your support, sales, and marketing teams based on the most current customer engagement data.

Let’s take a closer look:

Predicting churn based on product utilization

We’ll start with a simple but compelling example discussed in TechCrunch.

Imagine that a software business uses a customer-messaging platform like Intercom to track active customer sessions over an allotted time period (per month for a longer-term client). Now let’s say customer utilization starts to dwindle. Even if your customer success team knows about it, how long will it take for your account managers in sales to find out?

With cross-app automation, the answer is right away. The second your customer limbos under the utilization low bar, a notification is automatically triggered in your CRM solution. Without missing a beat, your customer success team, and your sales team, already knows that this customer might churn.

Why is this so important? Because only 1 out of every 26 customers that churn will actively complain. In most cases, customers will just leave if they aren’t satisfied, and by the time you figure out why they left, they’re beyond salvaging.

There are indicators other than utilization or the occasional complaint that show an existing account is at risk: Late or no payment posted. An ongoing software glitch in a B2B application that hasn’t been properly addressed. A noticeable slowdown in how often a client makes contact.

The point is that it is not enough for just customer service, just sales, or just marketing to know an issue has arisen. Workflows must be constructed to catalyze an automatic reaction to customer pain points and other risk indicators in real time, across departments.

For this to happen, customer success solutions such as Gainsight or Zendesk, must play well with the likes of Salesforce, Stripe, or NetSuite. Subsequently, all of them need to function with Marketo or Slack and other essential marketing automation and collaboration software.

That’s where a third-party integration platform comes into the picture.

 

It’s about treating your software like parts of a greater whole

The most common barrier to automatic, inter-app workflows is integration.

All of the necessary data for customer retention is there. The problem is that it’s scattered among enterprise solutions such as CSM software, CRMs, survey platforms (SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, Promoter.io), work management apps (Asana, Jira, Trello, etc.), and a host of other tools. Customer success teams need the ability to automatically trigger actions across those inter-departmental apps based on the most up-to-date information – and building such self-starting processes requires time, money, and a dev team.  

But with a third-party integrator, customer success teams can react quickly, appropriately, and effectively to any given indicator of risk.

Consider the example of using Zendesk to track customer support tickets. Customer success teams will need a way to prioritize support tickets that come in from higher-paying or strategic customers. Subsequently, sales and marketing may need to adjust their strategies when dealing with that account based on how the customer success team engages with the client.

Another example might be an alert that is triggered in Slack the moment a customer satisfaction survey comes in through Qualtrics. This allows the customer success team to instantaneously share feedback with sales and marketing that could be pertinent to forging longer-lasting client relationships.

A third-party integrator makes it possible to automatically facilitate these and other courses of action in one user interface by simply dragging and dropping the order of operations for a specific workflow that might start with Zendesk or another CRM tool, and end in Marketo.

It’s also worth mentioning that this level of control over digital processes simplifies the customization of workflows that best serves individual accounts. Not all customer journeys are identical. Overly rigid, all-encompassing workflows are stifling for a company that has many clients with many needs.

Ultimately, you should be able to design the pathways for your business operations without the hindrance of integration, or the struggle of writing code. This will let you create unique processes that are suited for long-lasting customer satisfaction – the most important ingredient for client retention.

What’s next? How about building customer loyalty?

Just because a customer is grinning ear-to-ear with satisfaction and singing your praises from the digital summit of Twitter doesn’t mean your work is finished. But alas, this post is about solving the problem of customer churn. If you want to hear about customer loyalty, check back in with us soon. Rest assured, we have plenty to say on the topic. In the meantime, you can read about some common workflows that customer support teams are putting in place, here.

Sources:

Five Customer Retention Tips for Entrepreneurs

Tray.io raises a $5m Series A, led by Mosaic Ventures to sort out the mess in the Cloud

40 Customer Retention Statistics You Need to Know

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