Aligning Your Subscription Business to the Needs of Your Top Customers to Reduce Churn

Serge Frigon

Customer dissatisfaction happens in every organization. Your business is no exception.

Unfortunately, no matter what preventive measures are in place to protect your venture, there are always unforeseen setbacks, especially when dealing with customers.

Despite stellar credentials, great customer relationships, and remarkable business acumen, it’s common to have customers expose a weakness in your system during business transactions.

And that’s okay.

Because no matter what you do, your positive response rate among your customers will never be 100 percent, all of the time.

In most cases, it makes more sense to simply fix the problem and move on, versus implementing a new customized process.

As Richard Carlson said, it’s usually best if you “don’t sweat the small stuff.” If you do, you run the risk of expending too much time and resources satisfying a potentially small segment of your market when you could have reaped better results by nurturing your top customers.

There are several ways to align your products with customers’ needs.

1. Invest time and resources on your top customers

Growing your subscription-based business and maximizing your sales requires a business strategy that aims to keep your top customers happy. The strategy must be designed to reduce your churn rate by preventing your top customers from joining the tribes of perhaps fiercer competitors.

Why is this important?

Your top customers are your cheering squad. They not only embraced your offer when they joined your list of subscribers to transact business with you on an ongoing basis, they also rally behind you now. They believe in your system and support the products and services you provide.

These customers are your unpaid brand advocates who are ready to defend you in forums, discussions, and other venues—online or not—when others could be questioning your business. They may even offer information and tips, acting as your indirect representatives. They can influence potential customers to subscribe and enjoy the benefits offered by your brand.

According to a recent study on consumer behavior, 97% of online and in-store consumers consulted product reviews first before making a purchase.

Through the power of brand advocacy, where your own loyal customers market and endorse your business within their networks because they trust, believe in, and support your brand, your business has the potential to expand. This is a vital key in driving brand awareness and profit to greater levels over time.

2. Create products, services, and experiences to address the needs of your top customers

It’s easy to say you’ll be able to keep your brand advocates happy and satisfied with your products and services by offering them attractive incentives and superior customer care that exceeds a typical client-customer relationship.

You keep them happy; you gain their loyalty.

But this is easier said than done. For SaaS and subscription-based businesses like yours where churn rates—passive or active—severely impact profitability, you’ve got to have a solid actionable plan that can be measured and attained over a set period of time.

One proven approach to reduce customer churn is to create products or services that will address your customers’ needs.

Not only will they benefit from what your business brings them on a regular basis, you also send a clear message that you’re paying attention to what they need and meet those requirements accordingly.

Complement the reliability and usefulness of your products and services by making your customers feel special. Lead them through their subscription journey in a way that leaves them admiring your customer support, navigation tools, communication, and billing/payment process.

In the second edition of the “State of the Connected Customer” report from Salesforce Research, 80% of the 6,700 consumers surveyed confirm “the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.” One way to ensure that customers have a great experience is by developing a Customer Experience Strategy. Using buyer personas, teamwork, and business analysis, your company can use data to maximize customer experience and stamp out churn.

3. Explore your top customers’ minds through surveys and research

To meet customer demands, you first have to identify them. Getting inside your customers’ minds to gather data about their preferences and dislikes can be done through thorough and well-orchestrated research and analysis.

Depending on your budget, you can:

  • conduct comprehensive market research, collecting a huge amount of data from which your own research team or third-party vendor can analyze and draw valid conclusions
  • use social media presence to start a small-scale survey to gather feedback from your top customers through polls
  • conduct short interviews through emails from your subscription list
  • establish interactive communications within your website
  • explore other viable channels where your customers hang out to obtain additional insights

Find out what your top customers like and dislike about your, and your competitors’, brands. This will give you an idea of whether you need to create new features, or improve/remove existing ones that don’t work anymore. You may even invest in a completely new product that will respond to the demands of your top customers based on the information you’ve gathered.

Pay attention to details so you can further dissect what your top customers are telling you. Sometimes, their disappointments may be hidden behind their polite and diplomatic responses.

4. Analyze your data and implement your customer-retention strategy

Once you’ve finished gathering sufficient information from your top customers and interpreting it according to your business perspectives, you  need to take appropriate actions based on the conclusions.

As mentioned before, creating new offerings or improving existing ones to cater to your top customers’ demands is an effective way to build on your relationship with them. However, there are many methods to further generate sales and profits for your company.

Michael Rose, founder of Mojo Media Labs, suggests that you upgrade, upsell, and cross-sell “within the account, including new departments” as part of your customers’ journey toward more meaningful brand advocacy.

You want to introduce new products or services so your top customers have options. If they lose interest in one or more of your offerings, give them choices to switch within your ‘premises’. This is one strategy to turn a potential churn into a new opportunity.

Establishing a customer success management team to maintain and grow your monthly recurring revenue is critical to scaling your business.

5. Customize, don’t generalize

There’s a recent debate on which method of customer expansion and retention is better: the general approach or the customized one.

In this case, you may want to ask yourself:

Would you want a platform that serves everyone or would you want to establish a niche strategy that only caters to a certain few? When answering this question, you have to weigh your ideal customer value by methodically trying to quantify the business goals these customers are expected to help you achieve.  

Sure, tech giants Facebook and Spotify seem to be succeeding with generalized offerings. Their recent marketing decisions to provide universal products and services to expand their markets suggests that they’ve calculated a minimal risk from churn with their strategy.

But keep in mind, these digital businesses have a massive subscription base and they can afford to take a few risks. Facebook reportedly has an astronomical 2.32 billion active users on a monthly basis while Spotify has an equally mind-blowing 87 million paid subscriptions.

If your business does not have the same numbers as these two giant companies, you can still expand and win the targeted sales and market reach numbers game by focusing on a niche rather than a general customer base. Such a niche will be essential to your growth and profitability.

6. Embrace the long-term benefits of a customer-oriented strategy

By using insights from your top customers, you create products that will suit the needs of both existing loyal subscribers and potential buyers on the lookout for a go-to brand they can trust for years to come.

At the same time, you ensure the loyalty of an engaged customer advocating for your brand, thus encouraging others to get to know and patronize your business.

Nurturing a positive, creative and meaningful relationship with your top customers is a worthwhile investment that will reap long-term benefits, through the entire customer life-cycle with your brand.

Investing in an effective customer success strategy will reduce your customer churn rate significantly. It can even turn into a solid partnership that creates an impenetrable defense, no matter how aggressive your subscription-based competitors may be.


churn  /  Customer Service  /  saas  /  saas strategy

Written by:

Serge Frigon
Serge Frigon
Director of Product, Stax Bill

Serge Frigon is Stax Bill’s Director of Product. He is passionate about improving billing processes for SaaS companies. With 20+ years in SaaS and billing software systems, Serge has a first-hand view of how important financial insights can be to the health of a company.