Oct 18, 2019

Read Time 3 min

Reasons for customer churn: resistance to change


It’s a natural human instinct to resist change. In customer success, it’s not uncommon to work with customers who are outspoken about their preference for doing things the “old way,” even when presented with more effective options. These change-resistant customers tend to put up a fight every time you offer advice. They get defensive when asked to think differently and are attached to the comfort of the status quo. This can be extremely frustrating and harmful to the customer relationship.

However, to get customers to embrace new ideas, you must know how to ease the distress and fears tied to change. Explore this common scenario and ways to best handle this personality type to help them see success.

Churn scenario for change-resistant customers

You have a new customer account come across your desk. You look through the hand-off notes from sales and you get the sense you might soon have a difficult customer on your hands. The account executive informs you that the sales process was drawn out and the main point of contact was combative, which created a lot of unnecessary back and forth during the sale.

You wonder how you should go about onboarding this customer to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. 

Plan of action to reduce churn

In your past experiences, you’ve learned that when a customer acts this way, it most likely comes from their own insecurities. In the welcome call, you attempt to disarm this type of behavior by offering kudos to the customer for clearly doing their research and making a smart buying decision. This seems to be taken positively.

As they start the implementation process, your implementation manager informs you that the customer is insistent that their data needs to be mapped in a non-standard way.

First, you meet internally with the manger to fully understand where the customer is coming from and determine if they are in fact correct. With the help of your development team, it is decided that the customer is incorrect and it most likely stems from a misunderstanding of how a particular feature operates. Since you know this could be a sensitive circumstance to correct the customer, you schedule a meeting to gently explain the misconception. You attempt to make them feel better by saying that they are not the first to have this same misunderstanding.

During this call they also state something else as a fact, that you know is incorrect, but you decide that that “error” is irrelevant to the current discussion, so you just let it pass without comment.

Now that you have gotten everyone on the same page with the data mapping procedures, you’re in a much better place and they have officially gone live.

Making the customer feel heard

Since this customer doesn’t like being told what to do, you are worried that training will be difficult. They attend onboarding training, and not surprisingly, are one of the most vocals attendees in the course. However, your team takes it in stride and offers recognition here and there for instances that they provide correct input. Since this customer likes to be an expert, you make sure they are aware of all of the resources and certification programs available to them.

In the end, you positioned the change in an non-intrusive way which gave the customer the space to arrive at the right conclusions on their own. They become a champion of your product and one of your biggest advocates  

You’ve also discovered how to tailor your approach with the customer to strengthen the relationship. You learned to not take their constant questioning personally. You aim to shift these conversations to be respectful knowledge sharing. Whenever possible, you keep your reasoning short and cite sources or examples, so it’s harder to pick apart. Lastly, you learned that since the customer seeks out recognition, and it costs you nothing to provide it (as long as you aren’t reinforcing false information), you offer them praise in each of your interactions.

Check out the other churn monsters that were previous part of our series.


Subscribe to the newsletter