What is customer retention?

Customer retention is your business’s ability to win the loyalty of customers and retain them for a longer period of time. It reflects your brand’s competence to offer quality products, services, or customer support, that inspire users to stay with you as loyal customers. 

What is customer retention technology?

Any customer engagement tool or software that helps businesses retain customers and build sustainable relationships with them can be called a customer retention technology. Customer retention technology such as a helpdesk software can enable you to better serve and retain your customers. Through a helpdesk software, you can delight customers with timely chat support, context-rich conversations across channels, and well-documented self-service resources. The ideal helpdesk software would also help in improving your customer retention plan with smart automations and robust reporting to set up successful customer retention programs.

What is the importance of customer retention?

Customer retention can boost your revenue by increasing the lifetime value of your customers. A mere 5% increase in customer retention can boost your revenue by 25-95%.  Customers that have already seen value in your brand are more likely to trust you again with their time and money, and are entitled to expect the same level of trust and commitment after every purchase. This is why customer retention efforts from your support team are important. While product quality is a huge variable that gets customers, support plays a major role in fostering customer relationships. When delighting and retaining customers is made your priority, you not only build loyal customers, but also open up a new stream of brand advocates--who recommend your products and services to their peers.

On the other hand, churn is truly disappointing to witness. Nothing feels worse than spending valuable time on acquiring customers, onboarding them, and nurturing their relationship, only to lose them after one bad experience with your product or service. If you are keeping track of your cost of acquisition, this can be particularly painful—no one wants to watch themselves spend more money acquiring a customer than they will pay over their lifetime as a customer. 

A helpdesk solution is essentially a customer retention technology, which can bridge this gap and make communication easier between the business and the customer. When you stay in touch with customers throughout their journey with your product, it helps you build stronger relationships and increase customer retention.

Customer retention

Customer retention vs customer acquisition

Customer acquisition is the act of successfully selling to a customer. There’s little or no interaction with the customers whether you offer a low-touch or high-touch product or service. For instance, this can often mean that you put a sign-up form on your site or a paper flyer outside of your business, and allow people to sign up for a free or trial version of your product. Enterprise or technical sales is one of the few avenues where much more human interaction is needed, customers may need more of a walkthrough before understanding the value of the tool.

Customer retention efforts should start right after the user becomes a customer, and is important for all types of users — no matter how much they have spent, or not spent on your product or service.

For example, imagine you are running a software company that offers both an enterprise and a free plan.

The free plan offers a lot of functionalities, and all a customer has to do is go to the website, sign up on a form and they’re in. There is no personalized onboarding plan, or perhaps there are generic tips on how to use the product. With this plan, customers would get responses from support but otherwise are mostly left untouched.

On the other hand, to sign up for the enterprise version of the product, customers are required to enter their information on a form you have on your site. Here are some of the potential questions that need to be asked to get a good idea of what the customers are trying to solve for:

Your team then customizes an experience for them and then walks them through your product. As they move through their lifecycle, a customer success manager reaches out to them every few weeks just to make sure they’re doing alright.

How to calculate customer retention rate?

Customer retention rate is the percentage of customers that you retain over a period relative to the number of customers that you start with at the beginning of the period. 

In order to calculate customer retention, there are three pieces of information that you will need:

To calculate customer retention rate, subtract the number of new customers that you’ve acquired during the period from the number of customers at the end of the period, then divide it by the number of customers at the start of the period. To make it a nice, clean percentage, you should multiply the result by 100. That is your customer retention rate.

Customer retention rate is a valuable metric especially for support teams, as it allows them to evaluate if the customer retention strategies are actually working.

Why is helpdesk the right customer retention technology to adapt?

Support is the cornerstone of any successful customer retention plan. A helpdesk gives support agents the ability to manage customer conversations for resolving issues quickly and effectively. Here are a few ways that a helpdesk software can help you satisfy and retain customers:

Bring all your support channels into one timeline

Companies use different channels including phone, email, social media and instant messaging to communicate with their customersThat is a lot to keep track of, with a high likelihood of losing track of conversations if switching between tools. 

A helpdesk would assist them by unifying every one of these channels into a single interface. This makes it easier for people who work in customer support to provide better service to their customers, as there is only one interface that they have to use for communicating with customers. It also gives a better experience to customers. Rather than getting transferred from team to team and channel to channel, customers get an effortless experience.

Gain insight into how your support agents are doing

One of the best ways to grow your business is to pay close attention to what your support agents are doing and try to encourage that they use their time productively. SLA (service level agreement) compliance is another functionality that a customer retention technology like helpdesk ensures. 

SLAs give a realistic deadline for agents to resolve issues, while keeping customers reassured with a timeline promise. By using a helpdesk for customer retention, you will get insights into exactly what your support team is doing, and how they are doing it. Reports on metrics such as CSAT, or first contact resolution have a huge impact on how happy your customers are and, subsequently, how likely they are to stick around.

Provide proactive support by leveraging analytics

When you reach out or address customer issues before they even know that they have them, it can make their whole experience seem magical and amazing. Using analytics and customer history to draw actionable insights about customer behaviour is integral to proactive support. 

Not only are they great ways to get a better understanding of what your customers care about, but they also are useful when it comes to triggering corrective workflows and offering personalized recommendations that add business value. Categorizing incoming customer communications can be one of the best ways to uncover trends in support and subsequently pass them on to other teams within your company.

Create a knowledge base for self-service

Customers today dislike long waiting times when it comes to support, and prefer to find solutions by themselves. By creating an exhaustive self-service portal, you will enable customers to help themselves without having to call or email or reach out at all.

A customized knowledge base with easily accessible solution articles and how-to manuals could serve as an effective customer retention strategy, and you save yourself and your customer support team a bit of time!

Automate tasks to scale your team

Automation is one of the key features that allow a customer support team to scale, while still providing an excellent experience for customers. For example, you could use your helpdesk to automatically set off common processes such as ticket assignment or escalation to the right person and better assist the customer through the process. Robust analytics and automation are some of the most valuable features when it comes to retaining customers.

Create context around a customer’s journey

The customer journey can be a long and arduous one, especially depending on the type of product you offer and if you offer low or high-touch sales processes.  It would be immensely helpful for your support team if there is context around the customer’s journey provided directly in your helpdesk software. This allows anyone working directly with the customer to see exactly what they have already been through, what issues they might have had, and provide context for the conversation currently at hand.

Track customer satisfaction

Tracking Customer Satisfaction, or CSAT, is a way to keep your thumb on the pulse of how happy customers are with your support. While a metric like Net Promoter Score, or NPS, provides insights into customers’ relationships with the brand and your marketing team, CSAT is what relates directly to how the support and success teams are doing. 

Keep an eye on your CSAT and notice if it starts to dip: is it only dipping for one specific person, or is it across the board? Having your finger on the pulse will allow you to try to stop any potential churn before customers even think about heading elsewhere.

How to choose the best helpdesk for customer retention

With so many different support tools out there, obviously you want to pick what will be best for you and your company. There are a few key considerations to have in mind as you move forward to select the tool that’s going to best help you retain customers.

How much does it cost?

It’s important to make sure that you pick a customer support software that fits within your needs while also fitting within your budget. Oftentimes, a helpdesk is priced on a per-user basis and will be discounted if you sign up annually.

That being said, there are many different features that a helpdesk can have, and many have different pricing strategies based on different use cases.. 

Just like if you were buying a house, you should go into the process of finding a solution with a list of need-to-have, nice-to-have, and unnecessary features. This will make it much easier for you when comparing a number of different customer retention platforms together. It may even be in your best interest to make a spreadsheet where you can compare all of them. Freshdesk has a super useful ROI Calculator, as well, that may make the deliberation easier for you.

How easy is it to use?

Investing in a helpdesk solution can be a wasted exercise if your team does not adopt it into their daily routine.. Make sure that your team can set up  and handle all their existing processes within the helpdesk before you even get close to signing a contract. Luckily, almost every tool offers a free trial, so you can get in there and play around with it before you sign up. 

However, the more complex your customer support processes, the more critical it is to find a solution that can scale with your team’s requirements and also offer easily accessible support as well.

Does your helpdesk qualify as a customer retention technology?

There are a few key features that any helpdesk software worth its salt should offer. These are the tools that will make supporting and retaining customers easier, and they’re the same ones that we’ve been talking about throughout this piece. When you start your list of “must-have” features for your search, each of these should be included.


You need analytics in order to understand how your customers are doing and how your support agents are doing. Retain customers most efficiently by catching dissatisfaction before it occurs, either by paying attention to trends in CSAT, to by creating specific automations to address historical issues.


Integrations allow you to pull insights and context into your helpdesk to enable your team to provide an even better experience to customers. If the customer retention tool you are looking at doesn’t offer an integration with one of your key tools that you use within your company, you probably shouldn’t purchase it.

Omnichannel support

As a customer, it is really unenjoyable to feel like you are being juggled from person to person as you ask your questions. Omnichannel support allows your team to easily move your customer from one channel to another without requiring any additional work from them. It is a great way to retain your customers and avoid churn.


Automation is key to proactive support and is also key to scaling a quality customer experience. If you hope to grow your customer base and continue to provide excellent support for customer retention, you will need to invest in a helpdesk that has smart automation capabilities. 


Find a helpdesk that allows you to customize things like your saved replies, the contact form, and your autoresponder to make sure that your customers have a cohesive experience and stick around. It's also important to make your customer portal look like it's a part of your website by finetuning its look and feel.


Documentation, webinars, and online training are all useful tools in customer retention. They allow customers to learn on their own time without the help of another person. When looking through a helpdesk, find one that makes it easy for you to create the documentation your customers will need.

Try the best helpdesk for customer retention

Good helpdesk software should make it easy for your business to handle customer queries efficiently and create an exceptional support experience. Choosing a tool that helps you do this can be difficult—everyone needs something a little bit different. Whatever you choose should adapt to your workflow and support style so that it’s easy for your agents to navigate and respond to customer issues even more rapidly.

The right helpdesk will help your team consistently create the quality of customer service you want to provide. That’s why over 40,000 customers choose Freshdesk. With a powerful suite of features built into an intuitive UI, your agents can sign in and start resolving customer issues right away!

Resources to boost your customer retention strategy