You made a sale. That’s great! Wait, is it? How much did it cost to attract that customer and get that sale? When you factor in Customer Acquisition Cost, which includes everything from development and marketing costs to customer service, you may not have made a profit from them. If that customer never buys from you again, you never will. So you really must know how to retain your customers and avoid churn. This can be extra-challenging in the arena of eCommerce.
Churn is the percentage of customers that cancel goods and services, or never buy a second item. Companies spend a lot on customer acquisition, but business isn’t sustainable without also retaining them. Customer retention is loyalty; loyalty means stability, revenue, and growth.
Some actions you take to create repeat customers are the same that can convince them to make a purchase or commitment in the first place.
1. A smooth and safe customer experience. Easy, intuitive, and attractive website navigation, instant assistance in the form of a live chat or FAQs, visibly secure purchasing portals, and fast, simple conversion mean less abandoned carts. You can both keep them, and keep them coming back. Avoid churn.
2. Give thanks. Genuine gratitude for time or money given, delivered as soon as possible after the fact, is recognised as one of the strongest relationship builders in every context by researchers.
3. Customers are assets, not ATMs. If you make someone feel they’re just a wallet to you, even subtly or subconsciously, they might not buy once, let alone come back for more. Experiment with ways of building genuine relationships with customers at every stage, from advertising to post-purchase. This includes but is not limited to fair pricing.
4. Ask them what you can do to improve their experience in the future. Thanking them again for taking time to offer feedback, and getting in touch later to tell them it was implemented, are certain to build strong loyalty if done in a genuine and undemanding way. On the flip side, don’t ask for feedback if you know nothing will be done with it. This can harm trust, and thus retention.
Those are common sense tips on how to retain your customers. You might think, hey, those weren’t secrets. But they’re things too many companies don’t do enough, consistently, or well. To avoid churn, each customer must always be approached as the valued individual they are.
If a product is contract-based, you can measure churn by a decrease in accounts over a set period, and also see each precise occurrence of churn i.e. when someone cancels. But for eCommerce, special metrics and tools must be employed. Interactions are more random, so you can’t actually see a churn point. You have to try and predict individual behaviour by looking at all customer behaviour. Yikes.
Enter: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Unlike humans, this can assess all customer data in real time, measuring for example durations between customer actions, or overall behaviour patterns. This gives a baseline for healthy relationships. The more data collected, the more precise the customer segmentation: AI picks out individuals who deviate from the general findings, thus predicting churn, flagging them for outreach.
5. It’s well-known that purchasers suffer post-purchase cognitive dissonance. This is the riskiest time for churn, and timely action is called for. Thanks to an AI tool such as Shimoku’s Retention Suite and its Machine Learning algorithms, you can target such customers with incentives, promotions, cross-selling, or up-selling, to quell doubts and retain interest. Avoid churn.
6. Perhaps a customer has been brand loyal but is now cooling off. The AI tool will spot and segment such high churn cost customers, so a strategy to repair relationships can be tailored for them.
7. It’s important to know who to reach out to, but it’s just as important to let AI tell you who to leave alone, whether because they’re happy as they are, don’t like to be badgered, or cannot be influenced. This spares their time and yours, so you can focus on the customers who need you.
Achieving a 0% churn rate may be an impossible dream. You can’t control customers’ lives and choices to that extent. But it’s a worthy goal: for your own success, and because loyal customers are happier customers. Cracking the code of how to retain your customers in eCommerce with the help of AI is a win-win for everyone.