Back in the mid-eighties, a line of ‘inspirational décor’ called Successories became all the rage in offices. Beautiful images were paired with motivational quotes and observations, with the goal of inspiring individuals to strive for that next great accomplishment.
Like all good concepts, parodies and knock-offs soon followed, calling out the obvious in tongue in cheek fashion. Some could argue that a few of the parodies were often closer to the target than the real deal, channeling the edginess of Office Space in our real lives. My personal favorite? Well, I may or may not admit to having the “Assumption” image propped up next to my monitor. I like to collect little snipets and images that remind me to think outside of the box. In fact, right next to the Assumption image is this Sherlock Holmes Quote: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”
Truth be told, good old Sherlock could teach us a thing or two about how important it is to let the facts drive the solution. All too often, we get caught up in the intangible or the loosely defined, and in doing so, end up jumping to a conclusion before we’ve taken the time to figure it why it happened in the first place.
“Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”
Not too long ago, one of my clients posed a challenge – specifically how to address the significant increase in attriting customers. Ideas were flying left and right – were coupons the answer? A targeted campaign to lure them back in with a special offer? Calls from the manager to check in and remind them that it was time to come back? They were all great ideas, but they all ultimately missed the mark, in that the solutions were addressing the outcome, not the cause. Sure, coupons might drive a temporary spike in engagement, but in three months, the situation would still be there. To solve the problem, we’d have to look back, not forward. What is it that causes a customer not to engage again, and what are the four or five steps that will address that potential defection? By leveraging data to narrow in on the key risk households, we found that 82% of at risk households were service consumers, an area where the company knew it had significant performance and satisfaction issues.
By going backward, and applying information to understand where the key crisis points existed, it became infinitely easier to develop solutions the solved the service problem, as opposed to pursuing consumers with a re-engagement offer long after the dissatisfaction had already set in.
A terrific example of this concept in practice is Amazon’s Instant Video Service, who has taken the time to mine the data and apply the findings to the key pinch points that lead to attrition. By understanding what might influence the customer negatively, they can effectively design solutions and outreach programs that address the key areas of dissatisfaction. In fact, they are so buttoned up that if you rent a video and experience issues in streaming performance (it could be during a server downtime or high demand period), they’ll reach out to you unsolicited, apologizing for the experience and providing a credit that is worth significantly more than the single rental. Why? They’ve figured out that one bad experience is enough to sour the whole relationship, and by identifying the pain points and leveraging the pain points and leveraging triggers to identify problem areas, they can set up real time triage points to address the problem in near real time. The results? Less attrition, greater loyalty, and great advocacy. Elementary, right?
So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m going to provide you with a little piece of art for your wall, a reminder, if you will, to slow down and think about the cause of the problem before searching for a solution. Snip it out and tack it up somewhere that you can easily see, and use it as a reminder to slow down and think through the big picture to solve the problem. You’ll get a much greater return, not only on your issue, but potentially influence other parts of the business as well, and then you’ll really look like the genius that you are.