NetSuite ERP for Customer Churn
One of the main areas of interest for subscription-based and SaaS companies is optimizing the customer experience. Especially in the tech space, there is often a direct correlation between the valuation of a company and the ability to consistently grow and retain highly satisfied customers.
In an industry where start-ups and small SaaS businesses are typically designed with exit strategies in mind, having a firm hold on customer churn and retention is critical to their growth and stability.
In fact, even in a post-acquisition reality, Private Equity firms and Acquisition-centric technology companies heavily leverage customer churn metrics for future acquisitions and within their current portfolios to demonstrate value to their shareholders.
Although there are some fundamental metrics for measuring customer churn, depending on the business model and products sold, the benchmark for an acceptable churn rate still varies widely. One common criteria that will impact churn rate is a product’s “stickiness”.
The stickiness factor defines how easy a customer can drop the SaaS product they are currently using. SaaS product stickiness is especially impactful in the B2B world where the criticality of these solutions will vary in their function.
Take the example of an ERP system typically purchased as 3-year contracts versus a task management solution purchased on a month-to-month basis. Once a business invests time, money and resources in an ERP system, product stickiness is extremely high. Even unsatisfied customers need to heavily consider switching solutions which will highly impact their business.
On the other hand, a task management offering can more easily be decoupled from the business and be replaced with a multitude of solutions that can deliver the same value to the customer with little to no impact on operations.
Hence, the variation in acceptable customer churn rate metrics of 5%-7% in the enterprise software space versus add-on Saas solutions which can reach upwards of 50% churn rate.
All this to say, customer churn and retention matters and for subscription-based companies that live and die by these metrics, the ability to forecast revenue and implement effective growth strategies are intricately tied to the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that drives their business decisions.
There are many challenges that are associated with developing a customer churn model from effectively extracting historical data to feed your model to more difficult challenges of pinpointing customer behavior patterns that trigger churn.
With the rise in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, powerful predictive analytic models have entered the market, informing some subscription-based businesses in churn prevention; they’re highlighting customer behavior patterns on application usage and external market conditions, which can impact the customer experience.
Although AI and ML have their merits, most subscription-based and SaaS organizations have latched on to more attainable methods in tracking the success of their customer experience by implementing the ubiquitous Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology.
This lets them capture customer sentiment and fundamental customer churn metrics specifically designed to gauge the health of their employed business model.
In addition to churn specific KPIs, subscription-based companies further analyze the state of their customer base by calculating periodic and long term value and cost to get a fuller picture of the health of their business.
Popular SaaS KPIs to consider include Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition Cost, CAC:LTV Ratio, Net Promoter Score, Payback Period, Annual Contract Value, among others…
Depending on the modules you have included in your NetSuite ERP instance, the challenges in calculating customer churn will vary.
It’s not uncommon for SaaS or subscription-based customers to initially implement NetSuite’s Financial First edition along with Contract Renewals. This does not include the more comprehensive subscription billing functionality (offered as a separate module with SuiteBilling) or strong recurring revenue management capabilities (typically supported by NetSuite’s Advanced Revenue Management module).
For many businesses, NetSuite is initially implemented for its powerful GL and Back Office capabilities.
Nevertheless, an ERP system remains the primary source of truth that needs to feed an organization’s churn analysis model with the necessary customer, contract, revenue and cost details to effectively track customer churn and retention.
More importantly, the flexibility in the format and calculations to be delivered to stakeholders are a necessary requirement to these businesses. Depending on your role, data visualization of these KPIs will vary in their level of granularity and visual depiction.
As is the case with most ERP systems, creating tabular views through NetSuite’s popular Saved Searches are great from an operational perspective, however strategic dashboards, scorecards and graphs can be limited when sharing these mission-critical KPIs to the executive teams in these organizations.