When your business is in its growth phase, it feels gratifying and even exhilarating. Each new customer is a victory, and you are right to celebrate it. Then, some time down the road, some of these clients leave. While this is natural for any business, it’s also something that every entrepreneur should strive to counteract because maintaining your existing customer base is paramount for business success.
The good news is that customer churn can be prevented or stopped – the latter through retention devices. Once people decide to buy your e-learning products or services, as long as they are happy with what they get, it should feel natural to turn to your business when they need a similar item or an upgrade.
4 Tips on how to avoid customer churn
I admit that the first time I heard the word “churn” in a corporate context (I was working for a big telecom company at the time), I imagined small people falling through the holes of a large sieve. It was a very powerful visual. In business terms, churn is actually the percentage of learners that are no longer using your products over a certain period of time.
The churn rate is calculated by dividing the number of customers lost during that time (it can be a quarter, half a year, or whatever you want) by the number of customers at the beginning of the said period. Getting that percentage to zero is impossible. The target is to keep it low. Here’s how:
Focus on customer experience
Happy customers are loyal customers. Of course, your courses need to be top quality and deliver on what they promised to do. However, the entire experience that a learner has with your business, from the landing page to the cancellation moment, needs to be flawless.
Read more: Are you a learning experience designer?
An Oracle study found that:
- 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience;
- 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience;
- 79% of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored;
- 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.
Customer experience is that important, and people will not only expect it, but they will most probably look at what existing learners are saying about your business before they buy a course.
Offer extra value
I’m not talking about the freebies or incentives, although they have their benefits. It’s important to provide extra (and real) value after the learner signs up. You can think of this as going the extra mile.
The sky is the limit on how creative you can get on this one – anything from complimentary upgrades, sharing relevant blog posts, videos, or nifty infographics qualifies valuable. The point is to show that you care about your learners and that your business truly was the best choice.
Especially as a small e-learning entrepreneur, it’s very important to show commitment to quality and a willingness to provide clients with everything they paid for and a little extra. It will definitely do wonders for your brand reputation, customer reviews, and testimonials.
Personalize as much as possible
If your reaction is “What exactly to personalize?”, my simple answer is “Everything”. Personalize everything.
I know that you probably have many learners (and, trust me, they are well-aware of that themselves), but it still feels good to be seen and valued. I’m not saying that you should send a hand-written birthday card to each of them, but try to stay away from mass e-mails that are obviously intended for everyone in general and nobody in particular.
If you can’t communicate with your customers individually, at least have some segmentation in place so you can include some differentiators in what you share with them, what you offer, and even the points of contact you choose.
Analyze the reasons for existing churn
Some customers will leave regardless. This might not necessarily have to do with how pleased they were with your business. It might just as well be that they genuinely no longer needed your courses. Still, it’s very important to gather as much data as possible about exiting learners and run periodical analyses to identify the most common reasons for customer churn.
It’s especially important to look at those who left to go to the competition. It may not be a comfortable comparison to make, but it will give you valuable information about any gaps you have and opportunities you should pursue in the future.
It’s best to find out if your courses lack in some department and figure out what you can do about it.
Breaking up is seldom easy, whether it’s in real life or in business. You should work on the relationship with your customers to prevent their leaving, but if some of them leave anyway, make sure you know why and do your best to change whatever is needed.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and INDIE. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.