Many marketing leaders today are responsible for CX and customer retention in addition to traditional marketing activities oriented to awareness, consideration and acquisition. As a result, they’re not only asking what makes customers buy products in the first place, but also why customers leave.

Common questions include:

  • Do our customers only know some of our offerings, but not all?
  • Do they only know our old offerings, but not what we’ve added or how we’ve changed?
  • Do our customers get value out of our offerings? And if so, do they know it or see it?

All of these questions are valid, and the answers will lead you to different approaches to drive retention. But for many, the answer to the question “why do our customers leave” has less to do with you, your product and your company than you think. Why?

We’ve all heard the story of disruption, and part of the reason customers leave is, yes, start-ups are challenging traditional players. But the other half of this story – and what’s most relevant for marketers – is what’s changing on the customer side. Research from Gartner Iconoculture supports that today’s customers are less wary of new, online brands, subscription services and non-traditional business models and more likely to consider alternative ways to meet their needs. Hop in cars with strangers? Test mattresses at home? We’re in! What’s more, today’s customers are drawn to the thrill of discovery. They crave experimentation. In short, the reason they leave (or at least, a big part)? It’s not you. It’s them.

Here’s the good news. Even after your customers leave, they’re thinking about that purchase… and your brand is likely still in their consideration set. While consumers are up for trying new things, Gartner research also shows that 44 per cent of consumers worry about having made the wrong decision after they’ve made a purchase. That plane trip to an island destination seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s been a few days now. “Honey… was this ticket really one-way?”

For this reason, leading organisations don’t merely increase investment in loyalty programs and encourage customers to stay; they also prepare to lose customers and deploy strategies to bring them back.

Gartner’s B2C Marketing research team is currently focused on this topic: How are leading organisations driving customer engagement and retention to get customers to buy more from the brand? To get priority access to our findings and/or if you would like to be part of the research, reach out to your Client Partner (subs. required).

In the meantime, what can you do? Here are some interesting ideas to consider:

  • Research customers’ enduring needs, not just “why they left.” Understanding the inherent draw of new products on the market, link your product or service’s unique differentiators to your customers’ enduring needs: things that can’t be satisfied by free trials or one-time offers.
  • Consider customer data your biggest asset. Products, services and experiences that are new to customers may have that advantage: newness. But large, existing brands have customer data. Consider how you can use what you know about your customers from past purchases and interactions to bring them back.
  • Revisit and reemphasise recapture KPIs. If churn goes up, don’t just despair; take action to recapture those customers before it’s too late! Develop strategies to re-engage those who are no longer purchasing from your brand.

*This article is reprinted from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 

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