Churn & Change: Understanding What Our Customers Want

two people high five

This is a guest written post by Carlotta Riesser, Product Manager at Aircall. 

One thing that struck me when I joined Aircall is how every stakeholder is dedicated to our client’s well-being. From product and tech, to sales and support – each team is committed to making sure our customers are happy and satisfied with our product. 

This vision drives us to fight churn at every opportunity. It defines how our teams work both individually and together to meet our number one business goal: keeping our customers happy. 

However, in order to reduce churn, it is important to get a deeper understanding of what our customers want and expect from our product.

This is why we put together an initiative composed of various teams and individual contributors. We wanted to take a deep dive into the entire client lifecycle: from acquisition and product adoption, to growth and expansion – and use that information to inform our business strategy and product roadmap. 

Churning Customers

People in park

The only thing worse than seeing a customer go, is not learning from the situation. Which is why whenever a customer churns, our Customer Success team makes an effort to find out why. 

Some common reasons may be:

  • Business processes
  • Pricing
  • Missing features
  • Growth and scaling
  • Strategy shifts

While it’s too late to change things after a customer churns, it’s still a great opportunity for our team to learn why and prepare for the future. These insights give us a great opportunity to draw meaningful conclusions about what our customers want and need, and what we are able to deliver. 

At Risk Customers

One important metric for our Customer Success team (and the company as a whole) is identifying the risk of churn. Structural problems, timing, and shifting business strategies can affect a client account and their satisfaction with the product – even if just temporarily. 

So we studied the relationship between clients in the ‘at risk’ category and the rate of churn. What patterns could be indicators of churn, and what could we proactively do to prevent it?

But we didn’t just use this study to understand churning clients. We realized we could also use the same data to better understand our customers who are happy and satisfied with our product. 

Using Client Feedback

How Aircall Used Aircall

Our business teams get constant feedback from clients about their product needs and problems. What are they missing, what would they like, and what we could do better. 

We use this feedback for several things:

  • Understand the evolution of our client’s business
  • Understand the product market fit throughout our client’s lifecycle 
  • Isolate potential patterns and indicators of future churn 

Admittedly, most of our feedback comes from customers who are in constant contact with our account managers who know and understand their needs. But users who don’t have regular touchpoints with an account manager also have incredibly valuable feedback that helps drive our processes. 

Analyzing the Net Promoter Score (NPS)

woman pointing at graph

Lucky for us,  our users are great at giving feedback. Whether it’s online, in person, or word of mouth, we know our customers want us to know what they think. Which means we can depend on our NPS score to be a true reflection of the health of our product. 

Every bit of feedback over time reflects how the needs of our users evolve and change. It also means that we can see, in real time, how our NPS score is affected when we’re working on different aspects of the product. 

After looking through all our direct feedback channels, we found one more metric that we hadn’t fully considered. One thing that kept surfacing during this study was the ease of use and “self-serviceness” of Aircall.  What could we iterate on to improve usability…and how would it impact our customers? 

Self-Serviceness 

Customer Support Tools

Making the entire experience seamless and intuitive was essential. So we asked ourselves an important question: 

What really is a self-service product?

A self-service product is one where the customer can go through the entire product experience without having to interact with our stakeholders. That means every step from signup and feature activation, to managing and upgrading an account can be done independently. 

Why is it important?

Self-service is important to us because: 

  • A user who doesn’t have lots of friction is happier and less likely to leave
  • It affects how fast a lead converts to a paying customer 
  • Automation and independent user flows eases the onboarding process
  • It alleviates some of our business operations

So, no, it’s not because we want our customer support team to lose their jobs. We understand the need for a dedicated group of people who are always looking out for our customers. However, we know that the easier a product is to use, the happier the customer will be, and the less likely the are to take their business elsewhere. 

How did we identify the self-service pain points on our product?

Everyone is involved in different aspects of Aircall. This specialized focus helps us with problem solving, but it also means that we all have differing points of view. We had to talk to everyone to get the full, holistic picture. 

➡️ Sales: What do potential clients need to convert to customers? 

➡️ Client Onboarding: Where are the hangups that are slowing down product adoption and ramp-up?

➡️ Customer Success: What are the pain-points on expansion and growth, and where are we failing to retain our customers? 

➡️ Customer Support: What is the overall impact throughout the client life cycle?

What we found was, many of the pain points our teams were seeing were linked to the direct feedback we got from customers. Our team understood our customers well enough to see what they were seeing. 

Prioritization 

live customer support

Now that we had all the information, both from the customer side as well as what we had observed, we were ready to sift through the data and take concrete steps to solve the problems presented. To do that, we needed to organize and prioritize. 

First, we split the data into geographical zones and customer tiers. This helped us figure out if some features were culturally conditioned, or typical for certain client profiles. Doing this helped us notice that some of the feedback was over-represented within certain geographical zones and customer tiers. 

Second, we addressed each point of feedback within the framework of our product strategy: Which features do we want to support, and do they match our product strategy and business vision?

Lastly, we ranked the feedback – giving more weight to certain things and less to others. This let us focus on things that were urgent and important to our clients (based on their feedback and our roadmap) first. We were now able to organize our teams and prioritize our product roadmap based on real, verified data.

Conclusion

live customer support

Our objective for the study was three fold: reduce churn, reduce the number of ‘at risk’ customers, and continuously increase our client happiness. In short, focus on client retention. 

We found that this analysis was incredibly valuable, particularly because the feedback and data had been reliably and consistently gathered over time. Having the right tools and processes in place ahead of time was key to getting the information we needed to make changes. 

The phone system for modern business