96% of Companies Say They’re Losing Subscribers for Fixable Reasons

Ninety-three percent of companies that rely on subscribers say retaining existing customers is as or more important than acquiring them, and 96% say they are losing subscribers for reasons they should be able to ameliorate. That makes pooling industry resources and determining means of improvement urgent, and that is the precise subject of a new report by Brightback, a customer retention software firm.

One of the major weaknesses in customer retention strategies is that it’s not always obvious who in a company is responsible for keeping clients aboard. BrightBack’s online survey of 435 decision-makers at subscription-dependent companies found that more than 80% of them list subscriber retention as falling under one of the four following departments: customer success, sales, operations, and marketing. Customer success teams were most commonly charged with retention (27%), followed by sales (20%).

Companies taking the lead on retention targeted customers considering cancelling with enticing offers including discounts, personalized bundles or promotions, and offers to downgrade while remaining a subscriber. It appears that it is never too late to make an offer of this kind — 43% of respondents reported saving 6 to 25% of customers at the point of cancel.

Enterprises are split on the methods in which they should invest in order to better maintain customers’ business in the future. The “top priority” for retention this year is loyalty programs (17%), hardly a consensus. Next up were better tracking of why subscribers cancel (14%), improving automated workflows (14%), and identifying new channels to engage customers (11%).

The most frequently cited roadblocks to retention provide a clearer picture of what companies need to change to better serve and retain their customers. The top four challenges: lack of cohesion in retention efforts across departments (named a top-three challenge by 34% of respondents), lack of automated, personalized messaging (31%), lack of predictive methods to identify future cancellations (31%), and inability to reach out in a timely fashion (30%).

For retention as for so many other operational difficulties, then, look to the building blocks of an efficient, high-performing organization: strong staff resources with the time and skill to execute as well as the technical tools on hand to help them do their jobs.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.