It’s a lot less expensive to retain a current customer than to acquire a new one. That’s a timeless marketing adage for a reason: it’s true.
In fact, it may never be truer than in today’s economy. Customers have an unprecedented array of choices and easy access to global products and services. If you can’t keep them happy, they’ll find someone who can. That’s why businesses work hard to reduce churn, the attrition or turnover of customers.
The U.S. Postal Service has made a strategic effort to reduce customer churn and defection, starting in fiscal year 2012 and then further refining its plan after our FY 2014 audit report identified ways to improve customer retention. The Postal Service defines churn as partial revenue lost in a period, and “defection” as total revenue lost from the customer. Management can measure churn and defection by the amount of revenue USPS has lost from these customers.
The hard work is paying off, as our recent audit report has found. The Postal Service’s proactive business customer retention strategies have reduced churn and defection over the past few years, and it has yielded significant financial benefit: USPS retained revenue of more than $1.8 billion due to the efforts.
Here’s what the customer retention plan entailed:
- Dedicated employees at 12 customer retention team sites.
- Use of predictive analytics based on historical data analysis to identify potential customers at risk.
- Campaigns that targeted at-risk small business customers.
- Ongoing customer surveys to identify reasons for churn and defection.
By implementing programs to identify and reach out to at-risk business customers, the Postal Service could reach them before churn or defection occurred.
We recommended a few more ways to strengthen the customer retention plan, including updating the mitigation plan to provide churn and defection data to operational areas. We also recommended USPS re-evaluate and address the customer retention team site supervisory structure and establish customer retention team employee goals and performance metrics.
What ideas do you have for reducing churn and defection?