How to Use Real-Time Conversations in the Battle Against Churn

How to use chatbots to combat churn

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Drift Partner New Breed. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Gail Axelrod at gaxelrod@drift.com.

The value of chatbots cannot be overstated. By engaging with web visitors at the peak of their interest, chatbots take on much of the difficult work usually shouldered by sales and marketing teams.

Typically, people think of chatbots in the context of the pre-sale process. Prospects who want to get in touch with a salesperson, request a demo, or begin a free trial should not have to encounter too much friction along the way. Chatbots serve to make that process smoother, more user-friendly and ultimately more successful.

But the value of real-time chatbot conversations can extend far beyond the initial sale.

Battling Customer Churn with Cohesion and Accessibility

When customers churn — that is, when they don’t renew their contract or terminate it prematurely — it can be a huge killer for any company and for SaaS companies in particular. Many companies make the mistake of thinking that as long as they’re acquiring new customers, they’re growing their business.

But what really helps a business grow is building up sustainable, recurring revenue streams. Retaining and upselling your client base helps you cut the cost of acquisition and increase the customer lifetime value as much as possible.

Sure, a company might sustain itself with purely net-new sales, but achieving actual financial growth will be like fighting an uphill battle.

But before you can reduce customer churn to achieve this revenue growth, you need to understand why customers churn in the first place.

Why Do Customers Churn?

More often than not, customers churn because of poor customer experience — and usually, that poor experience is the result of poor communication.

Many times, churn happens because customers and their customer success teams are struggling to communicate effectively through clunky, inefficient email threads or task management tools. Just like it would in the prospect funnel, this friction in the customer funnel will dishearten customers and discourage them from sticking around.

That’s how the idea of the marketing flywheel came into play. With customers at the center of your marketing, sales and service endeavors, you’re better equipped to streamline the user experience from first-touch to retention and upsells.

When a sale closes, you shouldn’t start treating your customer any differently than you did throughout the sales process. Instead, you need to shift your mindset and begin thinking of customers as potential prospects for renewals and cross-sells.

You can continue marketing to them about your other products and new developments in the same way that you’d market to your prospects. When you retain and upsell customers, you extend their customer lifetime value and boost overall profits for your business. That means that your customer success team should have all the desired attributes of a good sales rep: attentive, helpful and easily accessible.

In that sense, your customer success team is a vital piece of your overall product and service delivery. At the heart of every successful brand is the people behind the planning, delivering, servicing, onboarding and upselling customers. Without them, customers will struggle to use your product to its fullest potential.

Instead of just meeting quotas, checking boxes, closing sales and leaving your customers behind, you need to work to exceed their expectations through frictionless onboarding and streamlined communication with the customer success team.

So how does this all tie back to chatbots?

Arm Your Customer Success Team With On-Demand Chatbots

We know that the faster a salesperson follows up with an interested prospect, the more successful and meaningful that conversation is likely to be. The same is true for your customer success team.

Just like in the prospecting phase of the buyer’s journey, the act of addressing issues and delighting customers is a race against the clock — and when it comes to B2B SaaS products in particular, the longer customers have to wait to have their questions, concerns and complications resolved, the greater the impact could be on their business.

If your product is a critical component of the way a customer runs their business, then your customers shouldn’t have to wait days to contact their customer success manager. Whether it’s a life-or-death situation, like broken business software, or it’s something much less urgent, injecting too much friction into the communication process between your customers and your team will push customers straight into the arms of your competitors.

You can avoid many of these escalations by using your chatbot to automate some of the communication process. Instead of taking up the customer success manager’s time to dig up an old blog post or answer a simple troubleshooting question, you can program your chatbot to answer those things quickly and easily.

In other words, you shouldn’t reserve your chatbot for only prospect-facing communications. To effectively retain, delight and upsell your paying customers, you should use your chatbot to fast-track their questions and answer them in an informal, quick and personalized way.

This not only helps you avoid escalations and improve your retention rates but also helps your customer success team take on more work as your business scales. By saving the real people power for actual crises that can’t be fixed in an automated fashion, you maximize everyone’s time.

Maximize the Value of Your Existing Customer Base

When you program your chatbot to be smart, complex and personalized enough to offer suggestions and help customers succeed before they ever speak to your team, you increase the value of both your bot and your customer base over time.

Of course, it all circles back to the flywheel — the idea of treating your customers like prospects and your prospects like people. By combining the automated power of the chatbot with the knowledge and expertise of your team, you’ll have a much more scalable, more successful business.

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