Customer Retention: 50 Tools to Build the Perfect Customer Experience
Everyone knows how crucially important retention is, which is why there's a million companies out there promising you that their tool is the key to keeping your customers successful and happy. With such an overwhelming number of options, knowing which ones to pick is terrifying. That's why we're here to break down 50 of the best customer retention tools around and tell you what makes them special, so that you can choose the best ones for your business.
Here's a quick table of contents if you want to jump to a section:
For an overview of customer retention, see here.
Analyze How Customers Use Your Product
You need to know what your customers are actually doing with your product to make sure it's providing them with real value. The user actions you choose to track depend heavily on your product, but luckily, there's always an analytics tool out there that can uncover the exact data you need. These are some of our favorites.
1. Target the Right Prospects with KissMetrics
Hiten Shah blazed new trails in the analytics space when he started KissMetrics, and it's still one of the best tools around. One of its most useful features is that it lets you view your customers' retention stats by acquisition channel. That way, you can devote your marketing spend to the places that bring in customers who stick with you for the long haul.
2. Find Your Stickiest Features with Amplitude
Amplitude is the best option for finding your product's sticky features. It quantifies everything your customers do and lets you group them by what they're doing with your app. Comparing retention across those cohorts lets you separate the wheat from the chaff and see which features keep customers coming back.
3. Nail the Basics with Google Analytics
When it comes to web analytics, Google Analytics is the tried-and-true solution nearly everyone is familiar with. It's great for basic stuff like measuring active users or looking at churn for different acquisition cohorts. Those metrics are the beginning of understanding the big picture of your product's overall retention.
4. Optimize Site Design with Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg shows you which parts of your site customers click on and scroll to the most. While raw data and spreadsheets can tell you a lot, they don't always give you a clear window into how your customers actually interact with what you've built. Heat maps let you look at your site through your customers' eyes and see which parts they're drawn to.
5. Design the Perfect Mobile App with Appsee
Think Crazy Egg for your mobile app. Heat maps are even more valuable on mobile because there's so much less real estate on the screen. You can't afford to waste any of that limited space on stuff your customers don't care about.
6. Piwik's Open Source Analytics
If you want to get bang for your buck, Piwik's free platform has robust web analytics, while its enterprise plan has extra features like A/B testing. Best of all, it's open source, which means developers all over the world are coming up with plugins that make it even more powerful. Its barometer feature shows you how many people are on a given page at any time.
7. Get the Full Picture with Mixpanel
Mixpanel can do it all: event tracking, funnel views, A/B testing—you name it. Over the last seven years, it's become one of the most widely used analytics platforms in the game, with tons of high profile customers like Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify.
8. Capture Every Customer's Every Action with Heap Analytics
Heap Analytics is another great way to see how the actions users take on your site correlate with retention. It captures every single thing your customers do—rather than actions you choose in advance, like with most analytics providers—whether it's on your site or your mobile app. That makes it a great option for early-stage companies, who aren't yet sure which customer behaviors are most significant.
9. Build Features Your Customers Want with Indicative
If you're not shipping updates and constantly improving your product, you're getting left in the dust. When you deploy a new feature, Indicative's easy-to-use analytics platform lets you see how much your users engage with it and how that new feature impacts retention.
10. A/B Test Away with Optimizely
Optimizely is the go-to for A/B testing software, making it easy for non-technical folks to run experiments. That lets you get scientific when you look for ways to improve your product, rather than just guessing.
11. Test Your Mobile App's New Features with Apptimize
Apptimize lets you roll out new features to groups of customers rather than to everyone all at once. That gives you time to A/B test variations of those features, catch bugs, and make sure that every new feature actually makes your mobile app better before you charge ahead with it.
12. Monitor Your Site in Real Time with Clicky
Clicky is a real time analytics platform that gives you up-to-the-minute reports of who's on your site and what they're doing, down to the individual user. It also lets you know when your uptime is suffering so you can fix it ASAP. Those kinds of technical issues compromise your customers' experience and can ruin their faith in your company.
13. See Your Customers' Screens with Inspectlet
Inspectlet lets you record individual user's screens and see every click, scroll, and key press they make while using your product. You may think your product is designed intuitively, but you don't know for sure until you've seen customers navigate it themselves.
14. Test Your Product on Real People with UserTesting
UserTesting does the same thing as Inspectlet, except it also supplies the users. UserTesting pays regular people to try out your site, web app, or mobile app, then sends you the footage from their screens. It also takes audio, so you can hear in their own words what the testers like and don't like about your product.
15. Connect Your Data Sources with Segment
Between all your analytics software and other tools that collect important info—your email marketing software, help desk, CRM, survey tools, etc.—it’s easy to get buried in data. Segment lets you integrate all those sources and consolidate your data in one centralized location. It's also got a handy integration with Appcues that allows you to plug all your user onboarding data into your data warehouse.
Gauge the Customer Experience
The tricky thing about churn is that it's a lagging indicator. Customers are typically unhappy for quite a while before they actually pull the trigger and cancel. These tools give your customers a voice and show you what kind of experience they're having, so that you always know where to focus your retention efforts.
16. Send Targeted Surveys with Qualaroo
Qualaroo lets you send timed surveys to your customers at specific locations on your site or in your mobile app. You can also choose which users to target based on characteristics like how long they've been a customer, how you acquired them, or what device they're on. It ensures a constant stream of targeted, specific feedback so you can get ahead of churn.
17. Survey Everyone with SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey is less about targeting specific questions to a few users and better for getting a ton of responses to more general questions. On its Gold plan, you also get text analysis tools that let you quickly turn open-ended, qualitative feedback into cold hard data.
18. No Customers? Send a Survey Anyway with Qualtrics
Qualtrics specializes in enterprise data collection, but it's a survey software with a twist that's perfect for early stage startups: Its Qualtrics Panels feature can find respondents for you. That way, even if you don't yet have a critical mass of customers, you can still get valuable insights from real people.
19. Create Beautiful, Free Surveys with Typeform
If you're strapped for cash or just want to send the occasional survey on an ad hoc basis, Typeform might be what you're looking for. Its design templates look great on both desktop and mobile, sending them out is a breeze, and you can easily export the data to Excel or one of the 500 other apps Typeform integrates with.
20. Put Your Surveys in Context with Client Heartbeat
Client Heartbeat also lets you send automated surveys to your customers. But Client Heartbeat lets you benchmark the results against customer satisfaction from other companies in your industry.
21. Send NPS Surveys by Email with Promoter.io
Net promoter score (NPS) is one of the most valuable customer success metrics around. It quantifies how your customers feel about your product, both individually and across the board, and lets them tell you how to improve. This data is so important, Promoter.io built an entire product around it—one that makes NPS easy to collect from customers with great-looking, branded emails.
22. Collect Your NPS Data In-app with Wootric
Alternatively, you could also use Wootric to deploy NPS surveys inside your web or mobile app. That way, you can get feedback while your survey is still fresh in the customer's mind.
23. Keep an Eye on Customer Health with Totango
Totango tracks the health of every customer. You can set up health scoring models based on unique actions for different segments of customers, then Totango updates you on who's at risk of churning, who's super engaged and ready for an upgrade, and everything else in between. That way, you're never caught on your heels.
24. Read Your Customers' Warning Signs with Preact's Ptero
Preact is another app that can predict customer health. But instead of having to fuss around with settings and instrumenting your data, Preact uses machine learning to uncover what success and failure look like for your customers and updates you on each one's status.
25. Turn All Your Data into Customer Success Knowledge with Natero
Natero also uses machine learning and data analysis to gauge each customer's health. Its biggest strength is its many integrations. It can pull in data from your CRM, help desk software, and analytics platforms to get the complete picture of every account. The more data you put into Natero, the more powerful it becomes.
26. Solve Involuntary Churn with ProfitWell Retain
Customers don't always cancel because they're unhappy. It's estimated that 20-40% of cancellations come from involuntary churn, which is a fancy way of saying your customers forgot to pay their bills. ProfitWell Retain can gently remind them when it's time to whip out the credit card each month and reduce churn with zero work on your part.
Talk to Your Customers
Whether it's through lifecycle emails, in-app notifications, or push notifications, your customers need to hear from you. A well-placed message can make it easier for new customers to learn your product or nudge old ones back toward it after a period of inactivity. These tools ensure that your messaging to customers is both helpful and resonant.
27. Help Customers Through Onboarding with Appcues
Most apps lose 75% of users within the first week they download it, and it all comes back to onboarding. If customers can't quickly learn how to use your product and start getting value from it, they won't hesitate to leave. Appcues' user onboarding software lets you lend a helping hand during this critical period with its in-app messaging. You can point users to your key features so that they never feel lost and can get to that Aha! momentfaster.
28. Show Customers how it's Done with Wistia
Video is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, and Wistia is the perfect video hosting platform to help you get started. Just putting one in an introductory marketing email increases click through rate by 96%. It can have similar effects on your onboarding process. Teaching customers to use your app with a video puts a human face on your company right off the bat. Not to mention, a video saves you the trouble of having to explain in words how to use your product—they can see for themselves.
29. Teach Your Customers with Skilljar
Skilljar is a platform that lets you create interactive lessons on how to use your product, complete with videos, quizzes, and forums for your customers to answer each other's questions. You can use it to make onboarding easier or encourage existing customers to adopt new features.
30. Send Relevant Lifecycle Emails with Customer.io
You don't just stop talking to customers after onboarding. You need to keep in touch and send them messages that ensure they continue to be successful with your product. But most marketers just send the same, generic emails to their entire customer base. Customer.io automatically sends unique, behavior-triggered emails to each customer based on the actions they take within your app. It ensures that every email feels relevant and personalized to each customer.
31. Make Those Emails Beautiful with Litmus
You know what would make those lifecycle emails even more impactful? Making sure they look awesome. Litmus makes it easy to design beautiful emails your customers can't help but click on.
32. Manage Your Newsletter with MailChimp
There's no bigger name in email marketing than MailChimp. MailChimp makes it easy to design and send your newsletter to a list of any size. Its analytics functionality helps you gauge the impact of each newsletter you send, so you can iterate and improve.
33. Ruthlessly Target Your Emails with Vero
Vero makes it easy to make sure you're sending the right emails to the right customers. It pulls together data from all the other tools you use and consolidates it in a unique profile for each customer. That way, you can decide whose inbox each email goes to based on demographic data, purchase history, messaging you've sent them in the past—the possibilities are endless.
34. Nail Your Transactional Emails with SendGrid
Transactional emails aren't sexy, but they remind your customers of the value they get from your product and give them information they need to keep using it. SendGrid lets you rest easy knowing every welcome email, password reset, and post-purchase message gets delivered straight to the right customer's inbox.
35. Let Your Customers Chat with Lifecycle.io's Bots
Most companies can't talk to their users 24/7, but you know who can? A chat bot. Lifecycle.io lets you put helpful chat bots wherever your customers are—Facebook Messenger, SMS, WhatsApp—wherever. Lifecycle.io also pulls data from your CRM to ensure its bots are as helpful as possible to each customer.
36. Segment Push Notifications with Localytics
Push notifications are your mobile app's secret weapon for making sure customers keep using your app. Used effectively they can increase your mobile engagement by a whopping 88%. Localytics lets you send relevant messages to customers at all stages of the lifecycle—from onboarding to power user—based on their levels of activity. It's great for, say, re-engaging a formerly prolific user who hasn't opened your app in a while.
37. Send Behavioral Push Notifications with Leanplum
Leanplum can automatically send push notifications to users when they take a specific action. For example, if someone were to visit your e-commerce store and put a skirt in their shopping cart, Leanplum might trigger a friendly push notification as that item is running out of stock.
38. Get All-in-one Behavioral Messaging with Nudgespot
Nudgespot gives you a simple dashboard to deliver behavior-triggered messages to customers through in-app messaging, email, SMS, or push notifications at the time that works best for them.
39. Invite Your Users to a Rockin' Conference with EventBrite
Take it from SaaS guru Jason Lemkin. Bringing your customers to an informative, fun event is a great way to make them more loyal to your company, and not just your product. EventBrite makes it easy to set up an event invitation, send it to your customers, and sell tickets.
40. An Oldie but a Goodie: Your Phone
Another pearl of wisdom from Lemkin: Even though lots of people will tell you it's inefficient, talking to your customers on the phone is huge for retention. It reminds your customers there are real people at your company working to make them successful, and no matter what difficulties they're having, they're always more likely to forgive a human being than a faceless company.
Customer Success Software
Ever heard of the service recovery paradox? It's a business concept that's been proven time and time again: If you solve a problem for a customer quickly and effectively, it creates a better impression than if there had been no problem in the first place. These products make it easier for you to solve your customer's problems at scale, day in and day out.
41. Automate Support with Zendesk
Zendesk is by far the biggest player when it comes to help desk software. It lets you set up automatic responses to different kinds of tickets and create documentation that enable customers to fix common issues themselves, both of which are crucial time-savers if you're handling a lot of support requests.
42. Give Conversational Support with Help Scout
Help Scout is a rapidly-growing help desk software making waves in the customer support space. Help Scout is tied to external email addresses that customers simply send a note to whenever they have an issue. Each of those emails in turn creates a support ticket that's visible only to your team. That means that from the customer's standpoint, getting support feels like a normal email conversation with a regular person.
43. Find the Right Ticket Every Time with Freshdesk
Freshdesk is another great help desk option. What sets it apart is its highly flexible filtering system, which makes it easy to sort support tickets by priority, assigned customer success agent, or type of complaint.
44. Keep Customer Success Simple with Groove
Groove's goal is to be the easiest-to-use help desk solution. Its core product consists of a simple inbox that updates with new tickets in real time and streamlines reporting on basic customer success metrics like average reply time and replies per ticket. As your team grows, you can add features like knowledge base documentation and individual customer profiles.
45. Plug into Salesforce with Desk.com
If you're one of the many companies using Salesforce's CRM, then your best option might be to use its help desk sister product, Desk.com. By pulling customer data from Salesforce, Desk gives customer success agents the context they need to give anyone who requests help the best possible solution.
46. Talk to Customers in Real Time with Olark
Olark lets you put live chat windows anywhere on your site so that when customers have a problem, they can start a conversation with one of your customer success agents. And don't worry about getting overwhelmed. During setup, Olark asks you to choose how many live chats your team can handle at one time. When that threshold is met, Olark will take a message and let you get in touch later.
47. Combine Chat and Help Desk with LiveChat
To customers, LiveChat feels just like chatting with a customer success agent. But on your end, it has the powerful ticket creation and analytics features of a full-fledged help desk software. That makes it a great live chat option for larger teams.
48. Give Support its own Slack Channel with Talkus.io
Talkus.io is a chat bot that moves customer success into the place you already spend the majority of your day: Slack. Talkus.io generates tickets, gives you the customer's information, and even lets you get feedback on every interaction with customers, all inside your favorite team communication tool.
49. Flex Your Twitter Fingers with Buffer Respond
Customers are increasingly taking to social media to publicly tell companies when things go wrong, and Twitter is the most popular place to do it. Buffer Respond helps you shine on the big stage by monitoring Twitter and pushing any complaint about your company to customer success.
50. Plan out the Customer Lifecycle with Gainsight
Gainsight lets your customer success team set personalized success milestones for each customer's lifecycle: when they should finish onboarding, when they should be trying out new features, and when they should be ready to upgrade to your next plan. That way, you always have a benchmark to refer back to of what success looks like for every customer.