Category Archives: Marketing / Tech Interface

New RFM: Managing Customer Value Like an Investment Portfolio

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

Do you manage your own investments in the stock market? If you do, you probably have used technical indicators like moving average of prices or up / down volume balances or similar to make investment decisions. And if so, guess what? This approach to investment portfolio management is very similar to the management of customer value, it’s really all about the metrics and the source of changes to those metrics. We can so some Drilling’ if you like …

Q:  I have been enjoying reading your tutorials.  I am interested in the financial planning market particularly and have developed an application for segmentation of market and clients by attitudinal factors.  Having provided my clients (advisers) with the tools to turn the qualitative data into quantitative measures and slice and dice their client base appropriately, the next question from them is “How do I use this and what to do with the information?.”

A:  You betcha, that’s the hard part.  A common question when people get into analysis; the “what do I do with this” should come first so the metrics produce an actionable outcome…

Q:  I would be interested in providing links on my web space to access your papers and content. Do you have any content or case study examples for marketing and client servicing for the financial planning industry?

A:  Well, I don’t think I have a page on my site specifically on this area, but let’s create one, OK?  I’ll include this example on my blog and it will go up on my site.

Characteristics and attitudes are interesting but frequently not particularly actionable because they are not “behaviors.”  When people speak of “doing something,” they are typically thinking of increasing or decreasing a behavior of the customer.  If you are trying to figure out what to do about a behavior, you really need to use behavioral metrics, which will tell you “who” to do something to and “when” you should do it for best results.

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Predicting CRM Payback

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

Yea, I know. Boss wants to do smart customer marketing, but also wants to know what the payback will be for the “CRM investment”. Geesh, can’t we just figure cost out later? Sure you can, but might be better to make sure you understand what the “CRM success levers” are before you go spend a ton of money. You mean Drillin’, Jim? Sure, on to The Drillin’ …

Q:  Hi Jim,

Our industry is facility management services where a headquarters with chain locations contracts with us to manage their facilities in all their markets.  The President is interested in a “CRM Solution” but is concerned about the ROI he might expect from implementation.  Do you know of any number that I can pass along to him that would placate his insistence on knowing in advance what the ROI will be?

A:  Bad news: No, not really.

Good news: You can figure it out, which is something often not done.  You might not even need any new software to “do CRM,” though it depends on what you have now and what the objective of the CRM program is (you do have an objective, correct?).  But the software required is likely not millions of dollars and if you only have 100’s of clients you could probably do it with some combination of contact software, MS Access / Excel. 

The key question to ask: do you really know how your customers behave?  In this kind of contract business, I imagine the central issue is this: Can you predict which customers are likely to re-up a contract, and which ones are not?  And then can you use this information to focus on the ones less likely to re-up, and take steps to make them more likely to re-up?

Sometimes it is just a matter of better customer service.  In this case, what you need is better service practices, not “CRM.”  From a distance, it is very difficult to know what the issues might be in your company.

Here’s a test you can do to find out where you might be on the road to answering the CRM question.  If you cannot accomplish one or more parts of the following, you are not ready to even talk about “CRM,” and need to do some more internal research.  These steps, by the way, are the ones everybody skipped on the early rounds of CRM that created so many bad outcomes. Research / Implement / Discuss the following ideas to pave the way for a successful implementation if you decide to go with a CRM approach:

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Choosing Customer Retention Metrics for the Supplements Business

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

Today’s question is from a fellow Driller who understands customer retention really well but just can’t decide on the best metrics to measure retention in the supplements business. Should he use Customer Retention Rate? Customer Churn Rate? Hurdle Rate? Ahh, to make the right choice here the gory details will need to be visited – so let’s get to the Drillin’ !

Q: Hi Jim,

I am here choosing all the metrics I will use in the coming days to evaluate the health of my business and learn a little bit more about it. I will begin analyzing some basic metrics and then (just after being completely comfortable with the “basic metrics”) I will do some more sophisticated analyses like LTV and RF Grids. (Jim’s Note: RF Grids are advanced customer LifeCycle tracking tools described in my book).

Now I am trying to decide which is the best metric to measure my site’s ability to retain customers. There are three metrics that come to my mind. Customer Retention Rate, Customer Churn Rate and Hurdle Rate.

Customer Retention Rate would be the easiest to measure but the least precise. I could be doing a great job retaining customers but if I am attracting a lot of new customers this metric could give the wrong impression that we are doing more poorly than the last time we measured.

Customer Churn Rate is very easy to calculate when you have a “subscription model business.” If the customer cancels the contract it means a defection. But in my case there is no contract. We sell products. If the customer does not purchase in 30 days it doesn’t mean necessarily that he defected.

The Hurdle Rate based on Recency (45 days for purchase seems to be a good number for the products we sell- natural supplements, based in Brazil) seems to be the best metric I can choose to measure our ability to retain customers over time.

What metric do you think I should be using to measure our ability to retain customers?

A: I think you are one of the smartest IT guys on the subject of database marketing, that does not do database marketing for a living, I have ever met (?) ! Where did you learn this stuff? Did you read a book or something? ;)

Your analysis is absolutely correct on every point, and the approach is on target. If you start simple and work towards more complexity, you will learn more about your customers. And assuming most of your products are roughly a 30 day supply, 45 days is an excellent cut-off for a Hurdle Rate analysis. Simply track the percentage of customers who have made a purchase in the past 45 days over time, perhaps monthly to start. If the percentage is rising, you are getting better at retaining customers. If it is falling, you should be looking for reasons why this is so.

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