The following is a Best of 360Connext post.
Nuance is a small or subtle distinction.
It’s difficult to see, let alone measure. And yet, we are doing our best to only respond to metrics in business. So many companies rely so heavily on metrics they miss what might be a small problem leading to a larger one.
A recent example I witnessed was when a CMO, defending her piece of the budget, claimed the (relatively) small dip in membership retention rates was nothing to worry about, because the acquisition numbers more than made up for it.
Hmmm…let’s think about this one.
If you are having trouble retaining customers, this could mean a variety of things. Do you know what the problem is?
Customers could be upset about a change.
A change in your product, the experience, the billing structure, the cost or any change could lead to customers jumping ship.
Your customers could see you aren’t handling things in the way they want.
This is especially subtle. They might see you are not responding to inquiries or concerns on social media. They might see a press release about a potential partnership that spooks them. It may not be a large group at first, but there is typically a small group that is quick to defect. Just call them the canaries in the coal mine.
Your star person or group has been replaced with less knowledgeable representatives.
This happens in client services within agencies and service firms a lot. You might promote your superstar only to replace him with the inexperienced rookie. Clients see this as a slap in the face and are ready to find the next superstar elsewhere. While this is a specific example, it is typically indicative of how talent management and client communications are handled.
Your competition is quietly taking your customers away.
It’s not always a big splash, like when Apple introduces a new product. It’s often subtle – like when a startup quietly gains attention by delivering your product in a cheaper, better way. They might not have the advertising budget, but they often gain the loyalty.
The competitor you never worried about has improved their customer experience dramatically.
And they’re gaining on your customers as a result! Savvy competitors often find the Achilles heel of the 800-lb. gorilla is with the experience. By improving it over what’s available, they can quickly gain favor of the masses. Remember when we bought books in book stores? Amazon was seen as laughable at the time.
Slow leaks can add up to great losses.
These are all big problems for your brand eventually. If you pay attention to the subtleties, you can quickly gain on the problem before it becomes a catastrophe. The only way to do this is to focus on not just the big things, but the small things, too. And don’t let the metrics lie to you. In the case of the aforementioned CEO, she was fooling herself into thinking the numbers were “balancing out.” I beg to differ.
It is well documented that it costs much more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. Aside from the obvious financial ways her math doesn’t work, the long-term outlook doesn’t add up, either.
If your customers are deciding it’s easier to walk out the door than to continue business with you, you have a much bigger problem on your hands. Don’t underestimate the nuances.