Customer churn is a problem for any business, but especially for companies that support micro businesses. Those businesses are often new companies with unique, evolving needs, and that can lead to them bouncing from one provider to another every few years as their situation changes.
Some degree of churn is inevitable in an ever-changing customer environment, but the key to cutting it down is to understand exactly what they need. Showing your customers how they can thrive with services that are evolving because you listened to them can only help you build strong relationships with them – relationships that they won’t want to end.
What makes micro business customers churn?
When it comes to nurturing your relationships with customers, the best place to start is understanding your customer’s problems before they raise them. Learn the early warning signs of when a customer is about to leave, and if that does happen take the time to follow up on their reasons why.
Data, today, comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s critical to engaging customers. Be it market surveys, customer feedback, NPS reports or qualitative interviews – it all has the power to create healthy customer relationships.
In many cases, and particularly in uncertain economic times, a reason to churn could be as simple as price, and that’s a big issue for organisations such as telcos and professional services looking to preserve customer loyalty. With so many competitors in one space, it’s tough for providers to truly differentiate themselves. For a new micro business owner looking for broadband or accounting support, they’ll often assume everyone does more or less the same service and only look at the cost.
If not the price, another common cause for churn can be the product itself. The reasons for that can be numerous. A customer might be scaling their new business and need something more than what you offer, or they might have been expecting something that isn’t actually possible with the service.
Make the most of every customer interaction
Tech has the power to solve so many of the problems that often sink new businesses. With the right digital tools, access and expertise, a cottage industry in a remote rural location can have just as global a reach as a start-up in the heart of the city.
But because each small business is unique, the solutions offered to them have to be flexible to match. Your customers don’t want to churn – it’s time-consuming, stressful, and more hassle than they need on top of running their own business. They want to use your service, but if they’re going to stay as your long term customers, they need solutions that work for them.
Ultimately it comes down to understanding what your micro business customers need, but it’s also about learning to position and market your response to those needs.
For example, new entrepreneurs often want to set up an online store to get their business underway, but they might not necessarily be interested in building a full website yet. We’ve noticed that when companies we work with present our e-commerce store as an added feature of our site builder, their potential customers might disregard it. But when they advertise the e-commerce store as the main feature of the site builder, they see far greater uptake.
Don’t just enable success – champion it
When micro business customers churn, it’s not always because they’ve found something cheaper or better elsewhere. 70% of small businesses fail within 10 years of setting up, so the sad reality is that a large number of business customer churn happens because they no longer exist.
If nurturing is at the heart of customer retention, then a key part of that must be helping micro businesses thrive. It’s a win-win scenario – small business owners feel empowered to build a genuine, viable enterprise, and the service providers that support them don’t have to treat those accounts like they have an expiry date.
Digital democratisation is vital to helping micro businesses thrive. As well as extending their footprint by getting them online, tech tools like booking systems and SaaS platforms can give over-stretched small business founders what they need most – time to focus on making their company a success.
When it comes to obstacles, find out the specifics
Digital phobia is still a massive hurdle for so many micro business owners, and it’s rarely as straightforward as embracing tech or rejecting it. They could be confident with using social platforms for marketing to potential customers but view website building as beyond them.
For instance, we’ve noticed that 72% of Basekit Bookings users who synced a calendar took a booking in the past 6 months – which is a sign of popular uptake, but there’s still 28% of room to grow when it comes to nurturing users.
When we spoke with Loren Bond, owner of Lori Lori hair salon, she said she’s struggling to manage work-life balance, so the idea of saving time with a digital bookings system appeals to her, and yet she doesn’t want to commit yet. She uses a digital diary to keep track of appointments, but she’s unsure about going further.
“Leaving people to book their own appointments scares me if I’m honest,” she says. “I like to be in control because two people could book in for a one-hour haircut appointment, and one of them could take me an hour and half, the other could take me 30 minutes. So I am either wasting half an hour or I am running behind.”
When you understand specific obstacles like this, you can nurture your micro business customers with a new level of personalisation.
We’re soon going to be publishing the results of a Basekit survey of over five hundred micro business customers, designed to give you a better insight into what they need and where their obstacles lie.
Once you understand your audience, you can begin to consider your options. For instance, if you offer online booking tools or e-commerce stores alongside your core offering, could you also offer guidance and expert support to help business owners understand them? If you can, then part of the value you provide your customers is the opportunity to learn, grow their business and take control of their future.