Going where no company has gone before: finding a scalable way to boost customer retention

Rosetta Stone, the leading provider of language-learning software, has been helping learners around the world master new languages for more than 25 years. In addition to learners at home, Rosetta Stone also serves educators and global businesses to help upskill learners so they can improve their careers.

However, Katie Raeburn, Customer Marketing Manager, found that something was getting lost in translation between Rosetta Stone and some of their customers when it came time for renewals one year after the initial launch.

They realized some customers were churning because they simply hadn’t implemented the software properly to begin with.

“Customers would try to contact us for help, but in many instances they either didn’t know who to reach on our large support team or where to find the support materials they needed easily,” said Katie. “So, they gave up. Then, a year later, we would realize that we lost them.”

Rosetta Stone’s Client Services team used email, surveys and the occasional phone call to connect with customers. But these activities weren’t generating a ton of customer engagement—which meant Client Services didn’t have the clearest idea of which customers needed extra help either. It was also time-consuming for the team to do 1:1 outreach to ensure their customers’ success.

Rosetta Stone realized they needed a scalable way to teach customers how to be successful from the start of their journey.

However, they didn’t have one place where customers could access resources, ask questions, or share ideas.

So, they started looking into potential solutions that could increase customer engagement, education, and—ultimately—renewals. “Our ultimate goal was to make customers happy and help make their program a success,” says Katie, “That in turn would hopefully increase client satisfaction and renewals.”

Customer retention course correct: creating a community of advocates to drive success

In March of 2017, Rosetta Stone launched an advocate marketing community as a new way to continually engage their customers while delivering tools and resources for them to leverage in their programs. It was also a great way to develop a community of language leaders.

“We noticed that language teachers love to talk to each other,” says Katie. “When we held webinars, users would spend more time chatting with each other than paying attention to the content. We wanted to recreate this in a community where they could learn from each other and we could collect feedback in a way that wasn’t intrusive.”

Rosetta Stone chose Influitive’s AdvocateHub platform as a solution. It gave them a scalable way to build an engaged community of customers that could learn from each other and interact with educational content.

The Rosetta Stone team could also review advocate activity data and collect user feedback to understand how they could better gauge and influence customer success, retention, and advocacy.

A look inside The Bridge

Rosetta Stone’s initial goals for the community included getting 100 advocates and uncovering a few new referenceable customers for the marketing team.

Here are seven steps that Rosetta Stone took to build a thriving advocate community that made both customers and Rosetta Stone more successful:

1. Seeking customer feedback from the start

Rosetta Stone’s first mission was to choose a name for the community. But, instead of deciding it themselves internally, they asked their customers to vote on a name so they would feel invested in the program from the start.

To boost responses, Rosetta Stone offered a free Bluetooth speaker to the first 50 voters. This resulted in several hundred votes. “The Bridge” took the top spot.

Then, Rosetta Stone invited everyone who voted into The Bridge. As the program manager, Katie had hoped that 50 people would join during the first month. She hit this number within the first week.

2. Showing advocates the program benefits early

After the launch, Rosetta Stone invited the rest of their U.S. enterprise and educational administrators to join The Bridge. They positioned the community as a place where customers could meet their peers and learn from thought leaders in their field. This showed customers the value that they would receive when they joined the community.

The invitation customers received to join The Bridge

3. Getting other teams involved in their customer retention strategy

Rosetta Stone brought in their sales and client services teams right from the beginning. They held training sessions to teach reps how to use the interface and promote it to customers.

“We encouraged reps to tell their customers about The Bridge,” says Katie. “Once they started these conversations, membership in the community skyrocketed.”

She also encouraged them to visit The Bridge and see what advocates are doing by giving them access to the AdvocateHub platform. Rosetta Stone’s client managers often drop in to answer questions in the public discussions section of the program. In the process, they also pick up new tips and tricks from customer discussions!

4. Boosting customer retention by making onboarding fun and easy

To ensure that customers don’t fall off the radar during onboarding, Katie built a “welcome packet” in The Bridge. It provides customers with educational resources, phone numbers for their support team, and info on their client manager. She sends new customers a link to this onboarding material as soon as they sign up.

“I took information that we already give customers and presented it in a fun way,” says Katie.

The onboarding experience is also gamified. Customers earn points every time they absorb new resources and answer questions to prove their knowledge. They can also earn badges and climb the leaderboard by completing more activities. This motivates them to continually check into the program to learn about the latest best practices or educational materials being created.

Success Story: How Katie Boosted Retention By 58% Through Advocacy
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5. Keeping teams up-to-date with advocate activity

Katie helps client managers stay on top of what’s happening in The Bridge.

For example, she sends them updates when their customers join. She also compiles customer responses in a Google folder, so client managers can see the feedback even if they don’t have access to The Bridge. Whenever an advocate has a support issue, Katie will immediately call their client services rep.

“I let client managers know what’s going on with their accounts to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks,” she says.

6. Streamling feedback collection

Rosetta Stone used to have many different tools that sent surveys to customers out from different teams. Customers would often feel overwhelmed by the volume of surveys in their inboxes. Now, Rosetta Stone collects customer feedback through The Bridge, using an integration with Gainsight (their survey tool of choice).

“Instead of sending a survey, I will ask customers a question in The Bridge,” says Katie. “It’s now much easier to get people to respond.”

7. Recognizing your biggest customer advocates

Rosetta Stone rewards customers who participate in the The Bridge with points, which they can use to redeem special perks.

One of the most coveted perks are Rosetta Stone socks.

But recognition isn’t limited to physical gifts. Customers also love recognition, such as getting a shout out in the community for sharing their knowledge. Katie recognized five advocates during Teacher Appreciation Week by posting their photo and a quote about why they are so great on The Bridge.

“Teachers and employees often don’t get the credit that they deserve,” says Katie. “It’s cool to recognize them, and we can show advocates love without spending any money.”

Impact: 58% higher customer retention rates in one year

“Our business—language learning—is about connecting with people,” says Katie. “The Bridge allows us to connect with more customers and help them succeed.”

In just 12 months after launching The Bridge, Rosetta Stone has achieved the following results:

  • 1,750 program members joined
  • 32% higher renewal rates for K-12 accounts with advocates in The Bridge program (vs. those not in the program)
  • 58% higher renewal rates for US Corporate accounts with advocates in The Bridge program
  • Nearly 400 responses to feedback surveys
  • 470+ topic replies in the Discussion forum
  • 55 qualified referrals sourced
  • 470+ topic replies in the Discussion forum
  • 66 NPS among program members—which is double the average NPS of non-members
  • 179 advocate social shares, which generated 1,700+ clicks on Rosetta Stone content

“We saw huge increases in customer retention,” says Katie. “Customers who joined The Bridge were more active and had higher usage rates, and this ultimately resulted in increased renewals.”

“It has been so great to be able to build relationships with our customer advocates in new, creative ways!” says Michael Walsh, Senior Director, E&E Marketing at Rosetta Stone. “It has opened up a whole new door to our customers.”

Going where no customer retention strategy has gone before…

And customers are thoroughly enjoying the program, too.

“The Bridge has been a great resource! As I am not a language teacher, but oversee the program, The Bridge has helped connect me with other teachers and Rosetta Stone staff who are able to help me understand the program and encourage me to learn as much as I can about it as well. I am so thankful for The Bridge!”
—Erinn Bean, Rosetta Stone Assistant / Project Coordinator at Achievement House Cyber Charter School

“For me personally, it has encouraged me to once again return to studying (in this case) Spanish consistently with the goal of regaining proficiency.”
—Michael D. Roberts, Lab Technology Coordinator at Research Foundation for SUNY/ATTAIN Program

“Although I am new to the program, The Bridge keeps me on my toes trying to think of new, innovative ways to engage employees already in the program and attract new participants.”
—Christopher Gorman, Technical Writer at 1&1 Internet, Inc.

“The Bridge has impacted my life by allowing me to interact with people all over the world. Plus it shares so much valuable information.”
—Robin Littlejohn, Instructional Assistant at Vance County Schools

Because of the rave reviews from advocates, Rosetta Stone plans to expand The Bridge program to its European customers in the coming year.

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