10 Things That Might Unexpectedly Spike Your Startup’s Churn Rate

Guest author Scott Gerber is founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

Gaining new customers is always a priority. But that doesn’t mean keeping your existing clients happy isn’t also high on the to-do list. Keeping your startup’s churn rate steady—and low—is critical.

So what’s going wrong when those numbers take a turn for the worse? I polled 10 entrepreneurs from YEC about the surprising things that could negatively effect a company’s churn rate, so you can learn how to up your game.

Slow Website Loads

How fast your website typically loads will negatively impact your churn rate if it’s slow. People don’t like to go to a slow site or app. If it takes longer than a second or two to load, I’m going to ditch your app for another one. It’s not worth my time.

Pro tip: Speed up your Web server so that you have a lot more RAM and it can process the requests faster. Have solid state hard drives to make everything go faster. A CDN is required to handle loads in different countries, have fast connections, etc.

The goal is to have a fast website/app. This will help customers not get frustrated when using your service.

John Rampton, JohnRampton.com

Expired Credit Cards

Most credit cards expire every few years, which will cause recurring transactions to fail. Using a service such as the “account updater” tool in your merchant account can go a long way towards fixing this problem. Additionally, proactively emailing customers prior to the expiration date can encourage them to manually update the card before the transaction fails.

Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

No Clear Guidelines For Major Features

Having easily accessible, clear guidelines and FAQs about how to use the main features will help customers understand how to properly use your product. Otherwise, customers will churn as they spend a long time trying to figure out how to use your site but are not able to experience the full value of the product.

Randy Rayess, VenturePact

Customer Apathy

When a product is new, customers are excited. But they can become apathetic if there is no change or improvement. People remain interested in Apple’s iPhone because new versions come out each year. Give your customers something to look forward to by sharing your development roadmap. They will feel connected to your company and excited about the future.

Eric Schaumburg, eventr.io

Too Many Clicks

Customers are lazy (you know you are, too). So spend energy simplifying everything throughout the customer funnel—not only how they buy your product, but also how they communicate with your team. No matter how strong your brand is, you will lose customers if interactions are painful or slow.

Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Lack of Focus

It is fairly common knowledge that a startup’s best weapon is focus, but focus is also your best weapon against churn.

The most common answer to high churn is to keep adding new features. However, the real solution is to cut out features and make your product or service more focused. Do one thing incredibly well and you’ll stand out from the pack. In addition, focusing on one thing makes it much easier for customers to “get it” it before they churn.

James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

Neglecting Client Communication

Most people are so focused on trying to get new clients they forget to promote their brand with the clients they already have. If your clients are consistently getting messages from competitors, they could be lured away. Maintaining communication and promoting your brand to current clients can help ensure they aren’t poached by the competition.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

Lack Of Relatability

It’s important that in your client relationship they occasionally hear your voice instead of only reading your emails. Changing providers/vendors is a pain, so give them one more reason not to: Because they don’t want to break up with you!

Adam Stillman, SparkReel

Poor Interface Design

To most customers, the user interface is the product. A poorly designed website, or structure that is not coherent and easy to understand, will create additional hassles for your users. Those hassles will turn into frustrations, and those frustrations into cancellations.

Communication is important, but most customers aren’t going to submit a ticket about their ignorance over your product when a plethora of competitors also exist in the market. Every founder needs to take a course in UX Design to better understand the fundamentals of customer interaction with their products.

Cody McLain, WireFuseMedia

Failing To Cultivate Loyalty

Your efforts to come across as personal and approachable—to let your customers know you care about them and that their business is important to you—will be one of the hidden factors that can impact your churn rate. If a customer feels zero loyalty to you and a competitor offers a similar service with a lower price, they’ll have no motivation to continue giving you business.

You know that you work hard to continually improve your business, but unless you communicate this in a way that lets them know you care, they’ll never know. Even just a simple email reaching out to them and giving them suggestions based on their account will let them know you’ve been working hard for them, and they’ll have more reason to prefer you to an unknown competitor.

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

Lead photo by Neil Bird

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