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Glossary of Marketing Terms

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Customer Retention Metrics

Customer retention is pivotal because it is often more cost-effective to keep an existing customer than to attract a new one. Additionally, loyal customers tend to spend more overtime and can become advocates for your brand.  

To effectively manage and enhance customer retention, businesses must rely on a robust set of metrics that provide insights into customer loyalty and engagement. These metrics not only help identify successful strategies but also pinpoint areas needing improvement.

What are customer retention metrics?

Customer retention metrics are measurements used to evaluate the effectiveness of a business's efforts to retain existing customers over a specific period.  

These metrics provide insights into customer loyalty, satisfaction, and long-term value, helping businesses understand how well they are retaining customers and identify opportunities for improvement.

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What are some common customer retention metrics?

The common customer retention metrics are:

  • Churn rate: Churn rate measures the percentage of customers who stop using a product or service over a given period. It is calculated by dividing the number of customers lost during that period by the total number of customers at the beginning of the period.
  • Customer retention rate: Customer retention rate measures the percentage of customers that a business has retained over a specific period. It is calculated by subtracting the number of customers lost during that period from the total number of customers at the beginning of the period, divided by the total number of customers at the beginning of the period, and then multiplied by 100.
  • Repeat purchase rate: Repeat purchase rate measures the percentage of customers who make more than one purchase from a business over a specific period. It is calculated by dividing the number of customers who made repeat purchases during that period by the total number of customers during that period.
  • Average customer lifetime value (CLV): Average CLV measures the average revenue generated by a customer over the entire duration of their relationship with a business. It considers factors such as purchase frequency, average order value, and customer lifespan.
  • Net promoter score (NPS): NPS measures customer loyalty and satisfaction by asking customers how likely they are to recommend a business to others on a scale of 0 to 10. Customers are categorized as promoters (score 9-10), passives (score 7-8), or detractors (score 0-6), and the NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a product or service by asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale (e.g., 1 to 5 or 1 to 10). It is typically calculated by averaging the ratings received from customers.
  • Retention cost: Retention cost measures the resources and expenses incurred by a business to retain customers, including marketing, customer support, loyalty programs, and retention initiatives.

Why is tracking customer retention metrics important?

The reasons why tracking customer retention metrics are important include:

  • Indicator of customer satisfaction: Customer retention metrics provide insights into how satisfied customers are with a business's products or services. A high retention rate and positive customer retention metrics indicate that customers are happy and likely to continue doing business with the company.
  • Measurement of loyalty: Retention metrics help measure customer loyalty and commitment to the brand. Repeat purchase rate, customer retention rate, and other retention metrics show how many customers are choosing to stay with the company over time, which is a sign of loyalty.
  • Impact on revenue: Customer retention directly impacts on a company's revenue and profitability. Acquiring new customers is typically more expensive than retaining existing ones, so improving retention rates can lead to significant cost savings and revenue growth over time.
  • Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling: Retained customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and be receptive to upselling and cross-selling efforts. By tracking retention metrics, businesses can identify opportunities to increase revenue by promoting additional products or services to existing customers.  
  • Feedback for improvement: Retention metrics provide valuable feedback on the effectiveness of a business's products, services, and customer experience. A decline in retention rates or satisfaction scores may indicate underlying issues that need to be addressed, such as product quality, customer service, or pricing.  
  • Competitive advantage: High retention rates and positive retention metrics can give businesses a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Loyal customers are less likely to switch to competitors, making retention efforts essential for building a sustainable customer base and maintaining market share.

Where can companies access and analyze their customer retention metrics?

Here are some common sources where companies can access and analyze customer retention metrics:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: CRM systems like Salesforce, HubSpot CRM, and Zoho CRM store and organize customer data, interactions, and purchase history. These platforms often include features for tracking customer retention metrics such as customer churn rate, retention rate, repeat purchase rate, and customer lifetime value.
  • Marketing automation platforms: Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Pardot, and Mailchimp offer tools for tracking and analyzing customer engagement and retention metrics related to email marketing campaigns, lead nurturing, and customer segmentation.
  • Analytics tools: Web analytics tools provide insights into website traffic, user behavior, and customer engagement metrics such as bounce rate, session duration, and conversion rates. These tools help companies understand how customers interact with their website and identify opportunities to improve retention.
  • Customer feedback and survey tools: Customer feedback and survey tools allow companies to gather feedback from customers and measure satisfaction, loyalty, and retention metrics such as net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and customer effort score (CES).
  • Social media analytics: Social media platforms like Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and LinkedIn Analytics provide data on engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. Companies can analyze this data to understand how customers engage with their brand on social media and measure social media retention metrics.
  • Customer support and helpdesk software: Customer support and helpdesk software offer features for tracking customer interactions, resolving issues, and measuring customer satisfaction and retention metrics such as customer retention rate and support ticket resolution time.
  • Customer loyalty programs: Customer loyalty program platforms enable companies to create and manage loyalty programs, track customer participation and engagement, and measure loyalty and retention metrics such as repeat purchase rate, referral rate, and loyalty program membership growth.

What role does customer service play in customer retention metrics?

Customer service plays a crucial role in influencing customer retention metrics in several ways:

1. Customer satisfaction: Effective customer service contributes to higher levels of customer satisfaction. When customers receive prompt, helpful, and courteous assistance from customer service representatives, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their overall experience, which can lead to increased loyalty and retention.

2. Resolution of issues: Customer service helps address customer issues and concerns in a timely and efficient manner. Resolving problems quickly and effectively can prevent customers from becoming dissatisfied and ultimately leaving for a competitor, thereby reducing churn and improving retention rates.

3. Building trust and confidence: Positive interactions with customer service representatives can help build trust and confidence in the brand. When customers feel that their concerns are being heard and their problems are being addressed, they are more likely to develop a sense of trust and loyalty towards the company, leading to higher retention rates.

4. Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling: Customer service interactions provide opportunities for upselling and cross-selling additional products or services. By engaging with customers and understanding their needs, customer service representatives can recommend relevant offerings that add value to the customer's experience and increase their lifetime value to the company.

5. Feedback collection: Customer service interactions serve as valuable opportunities to collect feedback from customers. By listening to customer feedback, whether positive or negative, businesses can gain insights into areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to enhance the customer experience, ultimately improving retention rates.

6. Retention cost reduction: Providing excellent customer service can help reduce the cost of customer retention. It is often more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, and investing in customer service efforts that prioritize retention can lead to long-term cost savings and improved profitability.

7. Word-of-mouth referrals: Positive customer service experience can lead to word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations. Satisfied customers are more likely to share their positive experiences with friends, family, and colleagues, which can help attract new customers and contribute to overall business growth.

How do customer retention metrics relate to a company’s bottom line?

Customer retention metrics have a direct impact on a company's bottom line in several ways:

  • Increased customer lifetime value (CLV): Higher customer retention rates lead to increased customer lifetime value. Retained customers tend to make repeat purchases over time, generating more revenue and contributing to the company's profitability. As customers continue to engage with the company and make purchases, their CLV grows, positively impacting on the bottom line.


  • Reduced customer acquisition costs (CAC): Acquiring new customers is typically more expensive than retaining existing ones. By improving customer retention rates, companies can reduce the need for costly acquisition efforts such as advertising, marketing, and sales. A lower CAC contributes to higher profitability and a stronger bottom line.


  • Revenue growth: Customer retention metrics directly impact revenue growth. Retained customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, spend more per transaction, and be receptive to upselling and cross-selling efforts. As retention rates increase, so does the company's revenue, leading to improved financial performance and a healthier bottom line.


  • Cost savings: Improving customer retention metrics can result in significant cost savings for a company. Retained customers require fewer resources and investments in marketing, sales, and customer acquisition compared to acquiring new customers. By retaining existing customers, companies can reduce operational costs and increase profitability.


  • Long-term sustainability: Customer retention metrics are essential for long-term business sustainability. Companies with strong retention rates can rely on a loyal customer base for steady revenue streams and ongoing business success. By prioritizing customer retention, companies can build a solid foundation for future growth and profitability.

How can a company improve its customer retention metrics?

Here are some effective ways a company can improve its customer retention metrics:  

  • Deliver exceptional customer service: Provide timely, personalized, and empathetic customer service across all channels. Address customer inquiries, concerns, and issues promptly and effectively to ensure a positive experience and build trust and loyalty.
  • Build strong relationships: Focus on building strong relationships with customers by engaging with them on a personal level, understanding their needs and preferences, and demonstrating genuine care and appreciation for their business.
  • Offer high-quality products and services: Ensure that your products and services meet or exceed customer expectations in terms of quality, reliability, and value. Continuously monitor and improve product/service offerings based on customer feedback and market trends.
  • Personalize the customer experience: Tailor the customer experience to meet the individual needs and preferences of each customer. Leverage customer data and insights to personalize communication, recommendations, and offers, making customers feel valued and understood.
  • Implement a customer loyalty program: Create a customer loyalty program that rewards customers for their repeat purchases, engagement, and advocacy. Offer incentives, discounts, exclusive perks, and rewards to incentivize loyalty and encourage continued patronage.
  • Communicate proactively: Keep customers informed and engaged through proactive communication. Provide updates on new products, promotions, and relevant information that adds value to the customer experience and strengthens the relationship.  
  • Collect and act on feedback: Regularly collect feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, and feedback forms. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement, address customer concerns, and make data-driven decisions to enhance the customer experience.
  • Focus on customer education and support: Educate customers about product features, benefits, and best practices to help them derive maximum value from their purchases. Provide ongoing support and resources to assist customers with product usage, troubleshooting, and problem-solving.
  • Create positive brand experiences: Strive to create memorable and positive brand experiences at every touchpoint. Pay attention to details such as packaging, website design, and customer interactions to create moments that leave a lasting impression and build customer loyalty.
  • Measure and monitor retention metrics: Continuously track and analyze customer retention metrics such as churn rate, retention rate, repeat purchase rate, and customer lifetime value. Use these metrics to evaluate performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions to improve retention efforts over time.

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