The Perfect Chart

The perfect chart can convery a world of meaning on two axis. 

The perfect chart contains no more than five categories.

The perfect chart launches a discussion of action.

The perfect doesn’t contain fuscia.

The perfect chart doesn’t exist as a template in MS Office or iWorks.

The perfect chart has clear patterns that are clear as day and night.

The perfect chart is as beautiful as the Mona Lisa.

The perfect chart doesn’t exist for 90% of the publications on the market today.

The perfect chart leaves you awe-inspired.

When was the last time your reporting department produced the perfect chart?

How Your Job Effects Customer Churn

With company’s growing larger and larger and employee skillsets becoming more and more specialized, it is easy to see a workforce behind a product numbering in the hundreds or even thousands.  Yet, the customer might only come into contact with one, two, or three people that have customer facing jobs in sales, customer service and/or technical support.

But, just because you get to sit in a nice cushy office behind the scenes does not mean that your job will not effect the customer’s decision to leave your product for a competitor or alternatve solution.

If you are in Finance, make sure you do the math correctly when you calculate a customer’s bill.

If you are in Product Design, make sure you go out of your way to make sure the product is reliable, well designed and fits their needs.

If you are in Factilities, make sure you keep those bathrooms clean, those snacks well stocked and the conference rooms at the right temperature to keep company moral at high levels.

If you are in Security, smile and take pride in creating a safe and secure work environment for all employees.

You see, a product is not one person, one funtion, or one thing.  A product is team effort of functions that create a positive customer experience that prevents churn.  One part of that team that drops the ball, puts the customer experience at risk and therefore drive churn.  

How clean are your company’s conference rooms?   Are you thinking of the customer and their experience at every decision?

Interesting in reading more on customer churn, read my previous post.

How to Report and Understand Customer Churn

Understanding customer churn is essential for every SaaS, IaaS, or service company doing business in any marketplace today.   Too often companies will be so focused on what is coming in through the marketing facet that they forget to check the flow of water going down the drain.  Your sink full of customers might be draining slowly and along with it, your company’s future.

Even the smallest companies will benefit from tracking customer churn every month.  Reporting around churn will give you a lagging indicator which can tell you a lot about your company, your product, and your policies.

1) Do you have access and/or the ability to gather information on why your customers leave? 

If not, consider an exit survey and follow-up courtesy call to the customer.  Also consider setting up a data warehouse to house the information you gather so it may be linked back to customer records, usage, and campaign data.

2) Are your cancellation reasons aligned toward the company’s structure? 

Reasons/categories should be aligned along company owned churned (something your company did to cause churn) or customer owned churn (the customer churned because of something they own and is not the company’s fault).  In addition, each category should represent a function in the company. 

Price too high? Your CRM department should own that one. 

Reliability Issues? Your Product/Engineering department should be held responsible for those.

3) How do you report your churn?  Is it a single chart?  A dashboard? What time frame do you use to report it (quarter or monthly)? 

Your churn report should contain multiple views of the same data that let decision makers understand: a) who is churning, b) why they are churning, c)  trends over time, and d) the general mood of the customer as they leave (do they hate you or are they going to miss you)?

4) Is the data accessible to everyone who plays a role in decision making?  How do you know they review the data? 

Setup a recurring monthly meeting a few days after the final report is published with the stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page as to what the report says and what action items there. 

5) Does your churn report look better than it works?  Does it have more animation than the last banner ad you saw?

A well designed churn report is not defined by animation, color palletes or the number of charts.  A well designed churn report was built from the ground up with a firm understanding of how your business operates, a solid method of customer engagement, and well defined data viewpoints that help the decision maker understand what is dripping down the drain at a glance.

The more you can understand churn and help the decision makers understand churn, the better off your service company will be.  In fact, if you can gather enough good data, you can start predicting churn with a degree accuracy, preventing a customer from churning before it even happens.  How much better could that be?

So, what are you waiting for?  Get down and dirty with churn, get your plumbing tools and start making sure that drain doesn’t drip any more than it needs to.

Read more of my content on: Customer Experience

How Much Space Do You Really Need?

I live in the Tea Fire burn area of Santa Barbara.  In November 2008, a devastating wildfire burned more than 200 homes to the ground.  While the cause of the fire is undetermined, many residents have begun the rebuilding process.  The house that I rent miraculously survived, giving me a front row seat of reconstruction. 

What shocks me most is the rather ambitious size of the homes being rebuilt.  Our neighborhood was a quaint middle class neighborhood with decent size houses and middle class character.  However, the homes being rebuilt are of upper middle class character and are estimated to be 1.5 times greater in size.   I am utterly shocked at the “mansions” my neighbors are building. 

Building such large homes seems counter productive to the environmental image that Santa Barbara believes it has.  Here are just a few of the concepts that I struggle with.

  1. Large homes, occupy a larger footprint than smaller homes, meaning there is less “open” space around the home.
  2. Less open space means less room for environmentally clensing plants and/or gardening.
  3. Such large houses require a large amount of material to be gathered and assembled in one place.  A high material to person ratio for a house can’t be environmentally positive.
  4. The larger the house, the more HVAC and resources it takes to maintain it.  Granted HVAC systems are highly efficient these days, but seriously, heating large spaces are more environmentally unfriendly than heating smaller spaces. 

How much space do you really need?

Maybe it is just me and my view of what housing should be.  For me, a small, well designed house of sufficient size for the family on a large plot of land surrounded by nature and sustainable, edible gardens are the future of a sustainable America.   Sure this is highly unlikely to ever materialize given our global, corporate driven, profit and image means everything society.  

So, putting emotions aside, how much space do you really need to live each day?  Is that 7,000 square foot house for you and the partner really needed?   Just asking… 

Customers HATE Jumping Hurdles

Hudles are great when placed around a track.  They provide a challenge to runners to get over them repeatedly as they run toward the finish.  Hurdles provide the challenge.

Challenging hurdles lose their value when they leave the track.  When your customer is running the track that your product provides and they come across a hurdle, they swear, they stop, they become angry, and they start to look at the track next door that doesn’t have any hurdles.  Your customers HATE jumping over hurdles to:

1) Use your product (poorly designed interface)

2) Interact with your company (not providing a direct telephone number on your Contact Us page)

3) Claim rewards (remember those annoying mail-in rebates that require the reciept in triplicate and a form with BLUE ink only?)

4) Get rid of your product (not allowing your customer to cancel easily is a red-flag)

Hurdles can be seen in your data.  Whether you track conversion rates on your website or survey customers regularly, hurdles are patterns that stand out.

Do you look at data? Do you talk to your customers?

How many hurdles does your product have? 

Do you even know if your product has hurdles on its track? 

If you don’t know, found out immediately!