In this episode Dave Toole shares some frustrating experiences that might help illuminate things to avoid and recognize the importance of some of these interactions that occur daily about customer retention, talking about customer acquisition, and new product introduction.
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Hi, welcome to a Slice of Silicon Valley, Episode Eight.
The last time we talked about cash flow bootstrapping. Today I’ll move to that into a three-by-three matrix discussion, talking about customer retention, talking about customer acquisition, and new product introduction.
We’ll look at the three-by-three from the past, the present, and the future. Today I want to focus on the present and share some experiences that are frustrating challenges that might help illuminate things to avoid and recognize the importance of some of these interactions that occur daily, that maybe we have good intentions but sure don’t get deployed very well.
I’m going to start with retention. Today I had a board meeting. Someone called up and said they had an emergency and needed to go to the hospital. I decided to move out the meeting. I sent an email to everyone informing them of the need to reschedule the meeting to next week. I went off, thought I had everything covered. When I came back someone said, “I’m in the meeting, where are you?” So, I joined the meeting. No one had received the email. It turned out that Outlook and Gmail on my Mac stopped working this morning. No notification. I searched to try to figure out what went on. There might be a notice about Outlook doing an upgrade in Gmail and Mac. It turned out that the Office 365 service that syncs mail to services like Gmail was down. Look at the impact that had. I sent another 20 emails in that time that didn’t get sent out. I had no clue. There is a way to retain a customer: give them support, help them know what’s going on. This is not what happened.
Now, customer acquisition. My WiFi network went down. I was trying to figure out how to fix it. I called Comcast who told me “we’ll run a test, but in the meantime, maybe you want to buy some other Comcast services.” And I was insulted. How could they do that? I’m not able to use their product and service, and they want to sell me something. There is a much more graceful way one might do that.
The third is rolling out new products and services. Let’s look at crypto. Everyone got exuberant about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and DAOs. Billions of dollars have been invested. It’s all collapsed. What will come out of that is a good thing. The silver lining is usually that’s when we figure out what didn’t work, what broke, and how to put it back together in a better way.
There are ways to build loyalty, trust, and get people excited about staying in the fold and relationships. There are ways in which to better ask people if they’re interested to expand the use of your service or the relationship. This could be applied to social impact, nonprofits, and in building a following.
As a society, the challenge I will leave us with – I’m calling this a Ralph Nader moment – is that we’re not designing how we engage with technology and how to better adapt it. When a market collapses, we need to recognize that this is telling us and that we need to stop for a moment.
We need to take time to understand how we want to manage our interactions in a way to better serve us.