Customer Experience surveys allow you to gather valuable insights into your business’s performance. Whether you’re assessing overall customer satisfaction or examining a particular touchpoint, you will have access to knowledge that allows you to keep customers happy. But the value of CX surveys isn’t limited to feedback from existing customers. With a few tweaks in design and approach, they’re also an effective tool for investigating customer churn.

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Losing a customer and having to gain a new one in their stead is anywhere between 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping your existing ones. With this in mind, it’s crucial to understand the experience of churned customers so that you can learn how to prevent similar losses in the future. In our article How to prepare a Customer Experience (CX) survey we created a step-by-step guide to help you get started. Now, let’s take a look at how you can apply these steps in the context of customer churn

How to use customer experience surveys to investigate churn

1. Purpose

Having a clear goal in mind is important with any survey you conduct. Where customer churn is concerned, the purpose of your survey is to identify what made a customer stop using your product or service and highlight where you can make improvements.

Poor customer service and perceived lack of value are two leading causes of customer churn, but you can only make targeted changes if you have feedback that is specific to you.

The purpose of your survey should be clear both internally and externally. Everyone involved should be aware of why you are collecting the data and what you plan to do with it. Furthermore, you should secure the support of key decision-makers in the company who have the power to take action based on the insights you receive.

Transparency is also essential when reaching out to your lost customers. If they know that their comments will be used purposefully, there’s an increased likelihood of them providing constructive feedback that can be used in your plans for improvement.

2. Survey design

Churned customers have very little incentive to spend time providing you with feedback and this should be reflected in your survey design. Short, undemanding and easy to answer, your survey should aim to get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible. Make sure to use the right VoC software or customer survey software to incorporate your CX churn survey into your larger feedback strategy. 

A strong CX churn survey can contain just three questions and still be effective. For example:

  1. A scale question that asks customers to rate their overall experience with your company. This will output a simple, quantitative figure that will be a useful point of comparison.
  2. A multiple-choice question asking the customer what caused them to close their account/return their purchase/cancel their subscription. This will provide you with an overview of the reason behind their exit.
  3. An open-ended question accompanied by an open-text response box, e.g. “How can we improve our product/service?”. This will allow ex-customers to provide more qualitative details about their experience and give you specific, actionable data.

3. Target group

In this case, it’s clear that you must target customers who have stopped—or plan to imminently stop—using your product or service. Identifying potential customer losses before they happen isn’t always easy, but keep an eye out for signs like stalled contract renewals. account inactivity, or negative feedback in a customer service call.

4. Timing

Act as soon as possible after noticing that a customer has moved on or plans to. Ideally, you will be able to survey the customer before they sever ties, but if the decision is already made, timing is important to capture the customer’s most recent thoughts and reactions. The longer you wait, the less useful the data will be.

5. Insights & Action

Once you’ve collected and analysed your data, it’s time to do something with it. When presenting your findings to key stakeholders, look to support your new insights with existing data. For example, does a major complaint from a lost customer corroborate with a common criticism from existing ones? By gathering the evidence to support your insights, your company can begin to make any necessary improvements with conviction.

Finally, be proactive in your quest to put your data to good use. Facilitate brainstorming meetings, encourage decision making and empower your colleagues to act. After all, feedback has little value until it is utilised. Only in understanding why customers leave, can you fully understand how to make others stay. You can read more about customer churn surveys here.