Using analytics to reduce customer churn


By Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager at thryve

Churn is worse than not onboarding new customers. Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Yet it can be pretty tough holding onto a current customer. In a perfect world, your services will always deliver to expectation. Your clients will make it known what bothers them. But in reality, expectation is a moving target, and unhappy customers are unlikely to be candid about their grievances.

Well, no, not really. The actual reality is that you can know where that moving target is headed and your customers are dropping subtle hints all the time, even if they don’t realise it. All that insight already resides in the data you gather, and analytics can deliver the answers you need.

Albert Einstein may have agreed when he said: “All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.”

Customer retention is a science, and data analytics refines that knowledge. If you are not using a sales management or customer relationship management service that can provide that refinement and present it to the right people, you are losing out.

Stepping into the world of customer analytics is not tough. It’s not without its challenges, but when you use the right technology services and partners, such knowledge is within reach. To get your thinking started, I’ll highlight a few considerations:

Set your goals

Customer analytics can be very useful. It can guide the pipeline strategies for pursuing new leads or retaining existing customers. It also serves as an indication of how well your services and systems are doing. For example, if your customers dislike your website experience or think the applications used by your service staff are too slow, customer analytics can reveal those sentiments. By creating customer-centric goals – such as exceeding their expectations or creating 360-degree profiles of customers – you can inform other changes in your organisation as well. At the most fundamental level, you should split your strategy between customer acquisition and customer success. But if you go in without clearly-defined outcomes, you’ll soon encounter insurmountable barriers that even analytics can’t get around.

Pool or aggregate your data

Why do we hold meetings and circulate emails among multiple people? Information doesn’t work well in isolation. We collaborate to get the full picture, and then make decisions from there. Data is the same. If different pieces of business data stay separated, you’ll always be like the blind guy trying to figure out what an elephant looks like. One of the great advances of modern digital systems is how they can aggregate or pool data from various stakeholders. From there, the data can be analysed and then the results distributed to who needs to see it. Whatever analytics you envision, it should use aggregated data. Data integration can be very efficient with the right services, such as Flowgear – an integration platform we support.

Empower those who need the data

The previous two points lead to this third one: empower those who interact with customers with the information they need. A sales team and a service team need different views of a customer. A new lead is not the same as predicting the mood of a current customer. Developers building customer-relevant applications and marketers trying to coax people into the sales pipeline need different information. If you want to run a customer-centric business, they will all need some form of customer-based information. All these groups can offer insight into the outcomes you should anticipate from your analytics projects. Modern digital technology is beneficial as you can tackle specific use cases and requirements, then scale the project out to include other areas.

Use a leading digital platform

Full disclosure: I’m not writing this column for fun. This is a sales pitch. At thryve, we provide business services, including data science and analytics, powered by leading digital platforms. But these platforms make a real difference and create many new possibilities that didn’t exist before due to costs or complexity. Modern digital platforms such as Salesforce or Tableau – two analytics providers we support – streamlines data aggregation and distribution. But they do more. They provide products specific to different lines of business, even for community leaders and customers themselves, such as surveys. And platforms scale, so it’s cost-effective and quick to run a proof of concept for a specific use case, and scale that presence laterally or vertically, not to mention descale to manage costs.

Include artificial intelligence

This point could be included with the previous remark, but it deserves highlighting. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the answer to managing massive amounts of data. AI is the secret ingredient to next-level customer insight. It can predict behaviour, spot trends and leads, and sift through data and correlations much faster than any group of humans. AI is the major time saver and insight generator for your teams. Yet not all platforms provide an AI component that is simple to implement and built to be very effective very quickly. So whichever service you use, AI should be non-negotiable and easy to orchestrate.

Select a good technology partner

If some of these points seem imposing, they needn’t be. The right business technology partner should be able to help understand and articulate your goals, introduce a platform service that fits the business, and ensure the investment keeps delivering. This is key because, once you adapt customer analytics, it’s not business as usual. Your processes will change, your teams will move to higher-level tasks, and your understanding of your customers will be profoundly enriched. This change needs the support of a reliable and knowledgeable technology provider, such as thryve. Demand a POC, insist on business-centric discussions, and put us on the spot.