Why it’s important to watch (and understand) your product churn

Shaun Juncal has a good overview of the importance of watching your churn numbers carefully in his post Churn: The Most Important Product Metric for SaaS. It’s especially important to figure out why people leave when they do:

But you can also learn something from that lost customer, namely why they left. Were they drawn to a competitor? Did the value your solution offered fade over time? Was a missing key feature causing them to bail out? Answering these questions can inform what should be done to retain your current stable of paying customers and attract new ones.

A simple churn number can’t tell you why someone leaves, so this is data that has to be collected qualitatively. But how? You don’t want to provide a negative user experience to customers on the way out, so putting a giant hurdle in front of them is not a good look. We solve this problem at Postmark by providing an optional text field on the page where you select your downgrade option:

I’m sure we would get more responses if we made this a required field, or turned it into a pop-up. But at what cost to negative perception would we do that? Following someone as they exit a store is creepy. Don’t be creepy.