Customer experience: Your silver bullet for mobile app churn prevention

churn prevention

For a mobile-first business, winning new customers is not a small achievement. With many apps out there that can do everything — from telling you how to get from A to B to having food delivered directly to your door — the adage “There’s an app for that,” is proving to be more true now than when it was first coined. There’s tons of competition out there, so you should be proud that customers are rushing to download your app. But, your work is only half done. The next major challenge is churn prevention — Keeping users from ditching your app, never to return.

Why is churn prevention important?

Churn measures the rate at which people abandon your app and don’t return within a given time frame (ie a month) represented as a percentage. The inverse of churn, retention, is sometimes also used and represents the number of users who do return within a set time-frame.

Churn prevention can be a formidable challenge, especially for mobile-first businesses where small discrepancies in an app’s user experience can cause customers to quickly switch to a competing app. Small glitches or clunky navigation can see your app abandoned and never used again. For some industries, such as mobile gaming, the numbers are pretty stark. Mobile games average an eye watering churn rate of 94% after 28 days. Games that see a churn rate below that are considered to be successful. For gaming, churn prevention is a matter of sink or swim for any new game that hits the market.

But even outside of gaming, churn prevention is an important part of building and maintaining revenue. It may be tempting to focus efforts on spreading the word about your handy app to drive new downloads. But attracting new customers costs nearly 7 times more than retaining existing ones, so while new downloads should not be overlooked, implementing churn prevention strategies is a smart investment.

Evolving from user experience to customer experience

So, why do customers abandon your app in the first place? There are many ways you can splice it, but ultimately it comes down to a negative customer experience (CX). Customer experience, not to be confused with user experience (UX), encompasses all the experiences a customer has with your brand, both inside and outside of your app. UX tends to focus more on interactions users have solely within your app interface, such as finding information quickly or completing a task easily. The simplest way to conceptualize the relationship between UX and CX is that UX is nested within CX. Approaching UX within the context of a broader CX strategy will likely produce better results for churn prevention by focusing on making every experience customers have with your brand a good one — even when they aren’t using your app.

Six ways to leverage CX for churn prevention

If you’ve spent your time heavily focused on optimizing UX and haven’t given CX much consideration, never fear. Here are six ideas to get you started down the path of creating an outstanding CX for everyone who downloads your app.

1. First…Analyze churn as it happens

The first step to improving CX for churn prevention is to understand when customers are most likely to churn. By analyzing overall user data, you can paint a picture of where users are dropping off and develop a strategy to intervene at critical moments.

2. Provide incentives

If your data is pointing to a specific timeframe where customers are most likely to churn, such as after the first week, that might be a great time to offer an incentive to entice them back to the app. This can be in the form of discounts, coupons or other deals that can be pushed directly from the app or sent via email. 

3. Pay attention to your best customers

Interventions for churn prevention might make the most sense for your business and be more cost effective when targeted to your most valuable customers. Pay attention to signs that high value customers might churn, and be sure to offer them incentives that show that you appreciate their continued loyalty.

4. Give new customers a roadmap

You  might have an outstanding UX that many users find highly intuitive. But everyone is different, and even the most tech savvy users might miss out on key features that they would otherwise find extremely valuable. Sending new users an introductory email that highlights key features is a great way to make sure they’re getting the most value out of your app right out of the gate.

5. Ask for feedback

No app is perfect. Users will inevitably run into problems here and there or experience frustration with a particular app feature. But these issues are less likely to cause churn when customers feel that their feedback is being heard and actioned. Be sure to collect feedback often and be proactive in making needed improvements off the back of user feedback. 

6. Give great customer support 

When customers need to reach out for support, make the experience as easy and intuitive as the rest of your app. New technologies are bringing customer support into the digital age through asynchronous messaging and automation that take customers off of hold. You can even provide support from directly within your app.

Churn prevention is about more than creating a beautiful app with a top notch UX. When all else fails, taking a holistic view of the entire customer experience — including UX — will delight your customers and keep them coming back to your app regularly.

Published September 6, 2019
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