7 Actionable Customer Support Hacks to Boost Retention Rates

Retention is key to growth. By making a few tweaks to your support process, you can keep your customers feeling satisfied. We teach you where to start…

Sam Hurley
September 25 2017

How do you rapidly grow your customer base?

Stop losing your current customers.

This is the fine art of retention — and the Pareto Principle states that 80% of business comes from only 20% of customers.

It’s an important concept to grasp!

Along with stats that suggest it costs up to 7x more to gain a new customer than keeping a current one, maximizing your retention rate should be at the very top of your business strategy.

Gaining new customers is hard work. Keep those you have happy.

And I really do mean as happy as this:

You may also find that as an indirect result, you actually continue to acquire fresh business purely through word of mouth (WoM) marketing.

People talk.

I’m going to show you 7 super-simple, actionable hacks to increase your customer loyalty — solely by enhancing your customer service / support approach.

And even better – You can begin to use these tactics today.

I know you can’t wait to get stuck in…

But first, let’s answer this burning question:

“How do I calculate my retention rate..?”

Thankfully, we have guys like Jeff Haden around…

Retention Rate = ((CE-CN)/CS)) x 100

CE = Number of customers at end of period

CN = Number of new customers acquired during period

CS = Number of customers at start of period

Don’t worry; the formula itself is enough to put anybody off at first glance — but it really does make perfect sense once you enter your own figures (instead of algebra)

Give it a try…

First, subtract Cfrom CE , then divide that number by CS . Now, multiply that figure by 100!

For example, if you started a quarter with 100 customers (CS), then lost or did not receive any re-purchases from 10 customers, but acquired 20 new customers (CN) throughout the quarter, your retention rate would look like this:

CE = 110 (end of period)
Calculation: (100-10) + 20= 110

CN = 20 (acquired)

CS = 100 (start of period)

Retention rate = ((110 – 20)/100) x 100 = 90%

Not so bad, right?

The number you are left with is your retention percentage.

Here’s how to begin rocketing this percentage today:

Hack #1: Use A ‘Happiness Rating’ Tool

Ever received a support email that contained something like this at the end?

You should definitely consider applying it to your emails, too.

It’s not only a brilliant method to monitor the consequent emotions of customers who receive support from your team — but it also:

1) Shows you sincerely take their feelings into consideration


2) Enables you to track the individual performance of your support staff

Once a customer clicks a smiley (or saddy!) face, they are greeted with another opportunity to explain their selection a little more:

Show your customers you care about their feelings and you will be rewarded with greater loyalty.

“For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.”

(Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs)

You could custom build this quantitative / qualitative functionality into your systems…

Or, use these CSAT tools for packaged solutions:

Hack #2: Apply Emotion-Driven Signatures

205 billion emails were sent in 2015. You need to rise above the noise and stand out.

This is especially true for support emails — the entire customer experience should be memorable (in a good way) no matter if it was initiated on negative terms or not.

Your job is to turn such negative events into positive experiences.

A few quick tweaks to your email signature has the power to completely your recipient’s state of mind.

Sounds crazy? I’ll provide a simple example to illustrate.

What signature would make you feel better amidst a crisis?



David Jones
The Big Boss

Or this?


Always here to help,

Davey Jones ☺
Delight Specialist
The Joy Team @ IT Company

Psychology like this is a fundamental component of outstanding retention rates!

Change any bland signatures ASAP.

Hack #3: Use Names & Faces (+ Be Ultra-Polite)

This point cannot be emphasized enough!

I’ve received some very, very bad customer support emails in my time.

Why were they so terrible?

  • No courtesy greeting (not even ‘hi’) — just my name at the beginning with a comma
  • No sender name, signature or closing courtesy (and only a generic email address)
  • Condescending attitude that is dreadfully obvious
  • No personality — just a robotic tone and lack of enthusiasm to support

and one of the worst:

  • Blatantly ‘copied and pasted’ sections that appear in different fonts and sizes

Sigh. Kill me now.

If you want the best results and maximum loyalty, you need to encourage positivity through being personal.

Make the extra effort and see how your customers respond!

Above all: Just be human.

You can even send videos to customers, as a super-special touch:

Remember: Just because ‘bigger’ companies don’t seem to care, doesn’t mean they will continue to get away with it forever (as my friend Adam Fout eloquently described.)

Practice a company-wide policy of sustained delight, and your brand will reap the rewards forever and a day.

Hack #4: Genuinely Listen, Care & Respond (Fast)

It doesn’t take Einstein to spot a disrespectful and/or carefree support response.

The customer feels it…especially if they are waiting 3 days for a reply.

If your heart isn’t in it from the beginning and you don’t prioritize good customer service to existing customers first; you’re going to lose business. Plain and simple!

Your entire team needs to be on the same level — communicating in a timely manner that perfectly suits your brand while presenting individual personality, trust and kindness.

On this topic, I asked a pro who specializes in building tight customer relationships:
Mór Mester
Community Specialist @
(Higher Conversion. Less Struggle.)

“I collected the key elements of our support process at Automizy. These are the things we focus on to create a great experience for our customers:

1. React fast: The most important part of support is immediate response. If a customer encounters an issue with our product it’s our duty to respond as soon as possible.

2. Be transparent: Once we processed a support ticket we always keep track of its progress. And make sure the user knows how it’s coming along. Don’t keep your users in the dark!

3. Listen: We pay close attention to what our users have to say. This way we can get valuable information out of them. We ask questions like: “What kind of business are you in?” “What do you use our product for, exactly?” and “How do you use our product?” — Questions like this help us create great customer profiles. And that helps us in improving our product and support procedures, thus creating a great customer experience.

Letting the customers choose what type of channel they prefer to use is also key. A familiar channel makes the users feel comfortable.

4. Categorize your issues: We categorize our issues by their importance: Blocker, urgent or normal. And by their type: Bugs, strategic challenges, feature requests, and so on. Sorting issues into categories helps the support team in their workflow.

5. Nip it in the bud: When an issue comes up a lot, find the source and fix it there. This can mean many things, like making it part of the onboarding process, changing the UI/UX, or adding or highlighting a feature.”


Hack #5: Reward Customers For Helping You

When I buy from a brand, I like to assist them in many ways. I treat every purchase as a relationship. I’m rarely a quiet customer.

From major glitches to possible improvements and additional features, I try my best to alert and help out whenever I can.

Sadly (and quite shockingly), only <10% of companies I support, actually reward me for doing so.

And those that do..? I am insanely loyal to them. Not only in the form of repeat purchases, advance annual purchases and gratitude — but even promotion through word of mouth and inclusion in my material.

Appreciation speaks volumes and means the absolute world to customers.

Such a simple gesture is all-too-often overlooked…

                                                              (Insights via BuildFire)

You can bet your retention rate for these stats will be the same for customer motivation, where loyalty (and willingness to help your brand) is concerned.

What’s more? Surprises have been proven to be good for the brain. Dish more out!

I asked a respected Founder how he and his team build exemplary customer delight:

Salil Sethi
Founder of SmartKai
(AI-Powered Social Media Management.)

“At SmartKai, our customer retention strategy revolves around three principles: Delight, Connect and Coach.

Delight: We want to provide our members with a delightful experience every time they interact with our brand. Here are two simple examples: 1) The messages and cues within our tool are not only informative but light-hearted, and 2) We deeply care about our members, which manifests in how we communicate with them. We sign off our communications with our members by saying “with love.”

Connect: Periodically, we get on a phone call with our members just to say “hi” and see how things are going. We talk about a lot of different things. From how their work is doing, to their suggestions on how to improve their experience. These conversations give us a chance to listen and also understand their pain points so that we can serve them better.

Coach: In addition to using our tool, customers also benefit from attending free social media sessions. Every few months, we hold online sessions to provide the latest tips and trends in the Social Media space. At the end of the day, we care about our customers’ success — and these sessions help them become even more successful in their Social Media Marketing endeavors.”

Hack #6: Compensate Customers After Bad Experiences

It’s awkward. It’s painful. Nobody wants to deal with mishaps; but you must.

Negative customer experiences hurt your brand if you fail to rectify these situations with sensitivity, diligence and speed.

And here’s the awesome part:

Do it the right way and you may actually turn customer frustration into sheer customer delight…increasing their loyalty to you!

Compensate, apologize and do everything else in your power to make the customer feel special after you messed up.

Go above and beyond. Always!

(Insights via BuildFire)

Place yourself in their shoes at all times. How would you feel?

How would you like to be treated..?

Interesting research suggests at least 11% of churn can be prevented; solely by reaching out to customers after bad experiences.

That said, think about the potential when you exceed expectations to make them happy…

  • Offer money, vouchers and/or free usage (plus much more)
  • Give them a choice of compensation
  • Never limit them to extra use of something they don’t like or need
  • Reiterate your apology
  • Ensure their distress won’t ever be experienced again (by them or anybody else)
  • Communicate how you have taken action to safeguard this assurance
  • Keep in touch and ask how they enjoyed their compensation

Hack #7: Set Up Triggers & Alerts

A proactive approach to customer support is infinitely greater than a reactive response, lack of adequate response…or any response at all!

“67% of customers switched at least one of their providers due to poor customer service.”

  (Source: Vision Critical)

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could predict what customers are going to do next..?

Well, based on their collective actions; you can!

And you definitely should…

(Source: SuperOffice)

As soon as customers make a purchase (particularly if you use log-in functionality), you may hold enough data to be able to:

  • Monitor whether they visit the cancellation and/or refund pages once or X times
  • Track their usage of your product or amount of log-ins to your dashboard


  • Observe any visits to your FAQ section (including any subsequent search terms)

Receiving customized alerts like this paves the way to better service; you are able to jump in whenever necessary, almost reading the customers’ minds (which may be greatly appreciated — as opposed to some brands not taking any action at all).

Along with the option of custom-developing such a trigger and alert system, customer engagement and marketing automation platforms also enable this set-up. Take a peek:

And when it comes to scaling your support, this nature of proactive approach becomes even more powerful…

With top-tier helpdesk software and integrations, you are able to set alerts to inform you of particular (support-orientated) customer actions that either equal danger or deserve attention of the desirable type.

For example:

  • Get alerted when an enterprise customer opens more than X support tickets in X amount of time
  • Know when a customer has been waiting X amount of time for a response
  • When a customer has responded with X positive and/or negative sentiment wordsand
  • Track priority customers’ actions and alert specific support staff so they can reach out to either intercept or simply acknowledge

The above can be achieved using a combination of Zendesk, Workato, Salesforce and Watson Tone Analyzer.

And if you want to get really clever, it may be time to think about using a little help from your (AI) friends…

Yes, I’m talking Artificial Intelligence.

DigitalGenius integrates with ZenDesk to enable intelligent, highly-personalized customer service at scale! Chatbots, predictions and automated ticket notes — it does it all.

Couple that with hyper-personalized marketing and you’re well on your way to an experience-focused brand ethic that is magnetic to customers (now and in the future)

A solid, unified strategy for skyrocketing lifetime revenue and retention rate!

Sam Hurley

Sam is a passionate 'people connector', Personal Branding expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ. He has achieved success for SMEs, national and international organizations, while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and world’s #3 content marketing influencer by ScribbleLive. Sam loves a high-octane action movie and his all time favorite supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador! Catch him on social for cosmic amounts of Digital Marketing tips.

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