Customer Retention Software Tools
Figuring out the right software stack to help manage your Customer Retention goals can be tricky. It really comes down to what your specific goals are, what type of market you serve, the customer data you retain and where that data resides.
There are some specific types of tools you should consider. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, Customer Success Platforms (CSPs), Business Intelligence (BI) tools and Helpdesk software could certainly all form part of your stack.
Below, we look at what this category of software is and how it can be of benefit, particularly to SaaS providers. We will also take a look at some of the specific tools you may want to consider as part of your retention stack going forward.
What is Customer Retention Software?
Any software that helps optimize a company’s relationship with its customers, prevents them from churning and helps maximize the revenues it generates, can be referred to as customer retention software. These types of software enable companies to understand what their customers need, how their customers behave, how they feel about your brand and what their future intentions might be. They also provide the power to intervene with customers, influencing how they experience using their software and hopefully, growing their level of spend through time.
Why You Need Customer Retention Software
The most common motivating factor in investing in customer retention platforms is their capacity to reduce customer churn. Churn has an atrophying effect on revenue. It can reduce your ability to become profitable and can ultimately result in a business becoming unviable. That’s how important managing churn is to a SaaS operator. If you can’t keep your customers, you need to acquire new ones and acquiring new customers is difficult and expensive.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
These types of applications allow companies to understand their customers at a much deeper level, enabling you to customize your engagement to ensure each individual user has as optimal an experience as possible. This has a direct and obvious impact on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Driving Revenue Growth
By reducing churn and, by implication, increasing customer retention, your revenues will begin to grow. The goal is to reach a point of Negative Churn, where you are actually growing or expanding your revenues from existing customers through time. Customer retention management tools can help you achieve this and deliver revenue growth that, with compounding, can and will have a massive impact on profitability!
Customer Retention Software Features
Let’s take a look at the kind of features and software types you will need to effectively manage your customer retention program:
- 360 Degree Customer View
Using customer loyalty and retention program software, like a Customer Success Platform, allows you to have a real-time, 360 degree view of your customers. You no longer need to trawl through multiple applications to get an understanding of where the risks and opportunities lie with a customer or just see a history of engagement and interactions with a specific customer. Having all of the data in one place also allows you to query one unified database, a powerful way to understand customer health and forcast customer intentions.
- User Engagement Analysis
Metrics that provide an understanding of how your users engage with your solution are probably the best and most valuable data for a Customer Success Manager. All other data can be layered on top of this dataset to build a nuanced picture of customer health. There are some industry standard metrics like sessions, Daily and Monthly Active Users (DAU/MAU) but understanding your own bespoke usage KPIs is also very important. Customer Success platforms like Akita have this type of functionality built-in but there are also platforms specifically designed for tracking usage, like Kissmetrics or Mixpanel.
There are other types of usage/engagement tracking platforms that can layer additional insights into how your customers use your solution. Heatmaps and screen recording software like Hotjar will track how your customers’ actually navigate through your software and show you where they spend the most time within your app.
Sales and Marketing Automation
Being able to automate customer engagement processes allows you to apply retention strategies at scale that will have a meaningful impact on retention rates, particularly for those companies that need to pursue digital or scaled customer success strategies. CRMs and marketing and sales automation platforms fall into this category, CSPs also tend to deliver this type of functionality.
Often the first line of defense when it comes to churn is your support team. Prompt and full solutions to customer queries show your company’s commitment to a positive customer experience and may prevent a customer’s decision to churn from ever arising. Having access to service desk software like Zendesk or Tidio will ensure you can control the tracking and resolution of customer issues. A fully built out knowledge base also empowers customers to resolve their own issues as they arise, circumventing frustrating periods where the customer is waiting for a response from support.
A successful onboarding is the most effective buttress against churn. Nailing the first few days and weeks, getting the client to their first value quickly and building the trust that your software and aligned support will deliver on the customers desired outcomes is key. If you get that right, you are in a great position to maximize retention and the lifetime value of your customer base.
There are features in CSPs like Akita to manage and monitor the onboarding process. There are also tools like Userpilot and Rocketlane that are specifically designed to run an optimal onboarding.
Voice-of-Customer (VOC) feedback
The best way to understand whether a customer is healthy and likely to be retained is to ask them! A lot of platforms like CRMs and CSPs have survey-type functionality baked in, allowing you to measure NPS, CSAT or capture whatever additional feedback you may require. There are of course, standalone VOC solutions that you can use like Qualaroo, Surveymonkey or Qualtrics, whose results can subsequently be integrated into a BI or CSP tool to assist in generating a super-precise understanding of your customer base.
Getting a clear understanding of customer spend through time and identifying correct levels of logo and revenue churn (and therefore retention), is sometimes more tricky that it may seem. Companies selling multiple products, or usage based products, can have difficulty providing a clear picture of retention levels. There are stand alone tools that can analyze and help you make sense of thighs data, Profitwell and Baremetrics are two of the more popular. In turn, these key metrics can be shared with CSPs to deliver an even more transparent 360 degree customer view.
Now, let’s explore some notable customer retention software solutions across these categories
Akita is a CSP specifically designed for startup SaaS companies to manage customer retention and growth. In reality, the only customer retention tool SaaS companies should really need is a CSP, as these platforms deliver the most customer retention utility.
Akita enables startups to easily pull all of their customer data from almost any source into one, single source of truth. From there, users can use powerful filters to segment customers into useful categories, like … those at risk of churn. Once identified as being at-risk, an automated playbook can be triggered to intervene with the customer or to understand their situation and mitigate the risk.
This technology allows one Customer Success Manager to be much more productive and effective than ever before, managing more accounts, retaining more revenue and identifying more opportunities than a CSM without a CSP in their tech stack.
Akita At-Risk Renewals Segment
Whatfix is a Business intelligence tool with features that allow users to collect and process data and also apply predictive modeling to that data.
In the context of customer retention, Whatfix stands out with its ability to forecast customer behavior and identify customers that may be at risk of churn.
Salesforce has been a leading SaaS CRM since its foundation in 1999. Salesforce led the way when it came to customer success in a SaaS context and its suite of products are still valuable tools in the fight against churn.
Salesforce captures and retains lots of the company, contact and sales data that helps deliver an effective 360 degree view. Salesforce also has a helpdesk platform to add to the mix and it also tracks client communications, a key element when building a churn risk segment or a customer health score.
While Salesforce is not natively built to meet the usage tracking requirements of SaaS companies, it can be integrated into CSPs like Akita and blended with tracking data to give a true 360 view of customers.
A very popular platform for customer management and growth in the SaaS space, HubSpot offers multiple tools that support customer retention.
Originally a marketing automation platform, the addition of a CRM, service desk and a third party application store means HubSpot can be customized to suit many of the requirements of a company looking to manage customer retention.
As with Salesforce, above, HubSpot is ultimately a CRM that is built to serve many business models so may require the addition of a CSP or BI application to enable SaaS users to combine usage data with standard CRM type data.
Zendesk are the leading providers of Help Desk software. They deliver a comprehensive suite of tools that meet the requirements of support teams and contribute to improved customer retention. Tools like a ticketing solution, live chat, a knowledge base and automated response. There is also integrated voice-of-customer functionality that drives improvements in both product and service.
Zendesk enables companies to deliver prompt and curated support, essential as part of an integrated churn reduction strategy.
Keap is a CRM targeted at small and growing businesses. It has a focus on centralizing a customer’s data, delivering an holistic customer view. This focus on customer data enables Keap users to deliver accurate campaigns via its sales and marketing automation suite. These tools and campaigns can contribute to increased customer retention by delivering accurate and informative messaging to users at the right time, ensuring they are suitably engaged and receiving the value they require.
Trying to retain customers is a difficult and 24/7 enterprise. Without the tools to collect, retain, analyze and act on your customers’ data, it would be a whole lot more difficult. You may start trying to hack your retention efforts with a spreadsheet and email but very soon you will need to decide on a stack of tools that will facilitate the scaling of your business. The good news is you don’t need to opt for a single, all encompassing and expensive platform. Choose the tools that suit your needs and leverage all of the open integration options to centralize your data and processes into a CRM and/or CSP that lies within your budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main difference between a CRM and a CSP?
CRMs are designed to help companies manage the sales process and retain customer contact and communication data. Once a sale has closed, they have not traditionally had native features to track user engagement or health in a SaaS/subscription context. CSPs, conversely, are designed to do exactly that, understand and track customer health and engagement to arm CSMs and salespeople with the insights to minimize customer churn and maximize growth in per customer revenues.
How much does a Customer Retention Management platform cost?
Anything from free to millions of dollars annually! If we look specifically at Customer Success Management platforms, some are designed for large enterprise businesses and require a significant investment in budget and resources, usually starting at around $30k annually. Some platforms, like Akita, are designed for startups and can cost less than $200 per month with simple, immediate onboarding processes.
What is a good rate of customer retention?
It’s important to distinguish between retaining customers and retaining revenue. If you retained 100% of your customers but they all reduced their spend by 90%, that’s not good! So, figure out which is more important, revenue or logo retention and build a strategy to maximize that.