Tag Archives: Marketing thru Operations

New RFM: Customer Retention in “Subscription” Businesses

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

How do you measure likelihood of customer defection when purchase behavior is highly orchestrated or executed due to repetitive billings? Yea, it’s a bit more complicated because “orders” really can’t express any kind of behavioral change, can they? So, you have to find indicators other than sales to provide the triggers. The Drillin’ the Drillin’ …


Q:  Jim, first let me say that I am enjoying your book VERY MUCH!!  Nicely done, and a nice job of integrating it with the CRM paradigm, 1-to-1 etc… I’m reading very slowly and finished the Latency Metric Toolkit.

A:  Great!  Thanks for the kind words.

Q:  I had a couple of questions on the Latency toolkit and the Latency tripwire, especially as it applies to environments with built in cycles for repeat purchases.

I am in a business where our resources are quarterly based, i.e. customers purchase our resource use them for a quarter and re-purchase the next quarter’s resource.  That is, we have a built in pattern, where customers would purchase our resources each quarter.  I was wondering how well I can use Latency with this type of built in cycle or if I would have any problems applying your Latency concepts to it, maybe they apply that much more readily?   In our case we try to call most folks who haven’t purchased within 2 weeks of a new quarter beginning.

A:  Right, a subscription-type business.  This is also an issue with utilities and other like businesses who bill about the same amount each month or have contracts for service (like wireless).  The answer is if the revenue generation really doesn’t represent anything to do with the behavior, then you simply look for other parameters to profile.  For example, a friend of mine was responsible for analyzing the likelihood of subscription renewal in a business that provided the content online.   Increasing Latency of visit was a warning flag for pending defection, and they triggered their most profitable campaigns based on last visit Recency.  In wireless, the correlations are found in payment Latency and age of phone.

Continue reading New RFM: Customer Retention in “Subscription” Businesses

RFM and Customer LifeCycles

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

Today we have a bit of confusion between RFM modeling and tracking Customer Lifecycles. Each has benefits and downsides, but the most important idea is to make sure you know what each is best at. Make sense? Let’s do the Drillin’ …


Q:  I have a small sampling of the RFM scores that correspond to the various lifecycle stages.  For instance, 111 & 112 correspond to the acquisition stage, 333 & 443 to the growth stage, etc.  However, I’m looking for a complete listing of all 125 possible RFM scores and their corresponding lifecycle stages.

Can you please send this my way?

A: Wow, I certainly hope you didn’t get this idea from me; if you did, I have done a terrible job of explaining something somewhere. I would be very interested in the source of this idea, that a LifeCycle stage can correspond to a single RFM code or score.

An RFM code or score is the ranking of a single customer against all other customers for likelihood to respond and future value at a specific point in time. High scores equal high future value; low scores equal low future value.

A single RFM score represents this ranking at a fixed point in time – the day the scores were created. There is no “cycle,” which implies “over time,” inherent in an RFM code. Only if you knew the previous RFM code or sequence of codes could you imply a “LifeCycle stage”. This is, of course, what my book is about – using a modified version of RFM to track and profitably act on customer LifeCycle behavior. If you know the LifeCycle, you can predict behavior. If you can predict behavior, you can dramatically improve marketing ROI.

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The Cost of Queuing Customers

Jim answers questions from fellow Drillers

Topic Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

If customers have to “wait” for service, does the inconvenience / possible frustration impact their value? Great question; problem is, most businesses don’t know how to answer it in a way that will be meaningful to the value of the business. You know our Drillers though, they’ll get about it with actionable results in mind. On to the Drillin’!


Q:  Are you familiar with (or can you refer me to someone who is familiar with) customer satisfaction around queuing up for service?

A:  This is a Frequently Asked Question for sure, and not one there is a lot of statistically believable data on…at least that people are willing to release.  Kind of a sensitive subject, as you might think…

Q:  I work for a large bank.  We have perceived queuing problems in some of our branches – generally due to layout restrictions. I say perceived because although a queue is long, it moves fairly quickly with the actual wait time to see a teller often less than 5 minutes (considered at par with our competition). 

However, customers grumble when they walk into the branch and see the line and continue to grumble out loud until they reach the teller  and then continue to communicate their dissatisfaction to the teller.  Do you know if any work has been done in this area with other large companies that tend to have long queues (like airline ticket counters, large retailers)?

Thanking you in advance for your response.

A:  I think this issue can be an illusion; let me tell you what I mean. 

For e-commerce, somebody like Gartner does a survey that says people hate shipping charges, and every web site kicks in “free shipping.”  Guess what? People have always hated shipping charges since 1850 when the catalog business started.  And why not?  It looks like extra cost to the customer.  But if you run your business correctly, you price with shipping in mind and manage costs so that you still make a profit.

Continue reading The Cost of Queuing Customers