The Cable Company Just Called And They Want To Lower Your Bill

The Cable Company Just Called And They Want To Lower Your Bill .jpg

By Ashwin Krishnan

No, it’s not #FakeNews.

Still, does the title shock you? Should it not?

Why? Because we have all the analytics and personalization in the world to ‘up-sell’ you the next new thing. How about revoking things that you do not use?

And while the cable company is the frequent butt of many a joke, how about I focus your attention on one of the most sophisticated ‘born-in-the-cloud’ mega-operations – Netflix.

After stopping the DVD subscription years ago and switching to a streaming-only service (which is the bulk of customers anyway today), I was paying 9.99 a month dutifully for years. And something prompted me a couple of months ago to determine if there is a cheaper version; lo-and-behold there was – a 7.99 version that allows me streaming to one device at a time. Huh? I have NEVER streamed to two devices simultaneously ever – and Netflix’s rudimentary analytics knows this – yet not once did I get an email or text suggesting that I could downgrade to the lower tier and not miss a beat. Yes, I may not get HD but they could have offered me that choice based on my viewing habits – and I would have loved them for it.

But they did not.

Why? Because they don’t need to. They do need my data, actions, location, device to understand where I pause, what movies I fast forward, what time of the day I binge watch (shh! that’s a secret!) so they can fine-tune their offerings to retain and upsell me. But not to use that data to delight me as a customer to lower my bill.

This story is equally applicable to the enterprise world.

The same set of analytics that allow enterprises – typically the ‘Customer Success’ teams – to assess when the software has been deployed after purchase (inordinate delays could spell changes in priorities, reorganizations etc), whether the full value of the software is being realized based on the configuration and the logs OR whether a fraction of the purchased licenses have been deployed. All these are signals whether to send a reminder if any additional services are needed for deployment or additional documentation is the need of the hour or training as the case may be.

What if, after deployment, using analytics the same ‘Customer Success’ team can see that only the basic ‘logging and monitoring’ features are being deployed even though the entire ‘enterprise suite’ has been purchased. The immediate reaction is to reach out to articulate the value of the entire suite and how they need to turn on every bell and whistle – otherwise, the renewal may be at risk – an understandable response. But what if we turn that logic on its head – just like the Netflix simultaneous streaming example – and, instead, reach out to the customer in a non-intrusive fashion and say that based on the current usage patterns, there are one of three approaches recommended

  1. Downgrade the license type to ‘logging and monitoring’ and save 40% at next renewal time, or;
  2. opt for a ‘free’ training module to explain the benefit of all the unused features that they could be using just now, or;
  3. do nothing at all.

Wouldn’t that wow any customer? If #Netflix had proactively alerted me about that, I would be a ‘delighted’ customer for life. Don’t enterprise vendors want to have the same kind of visceral effect on jaded customers. Is that too much to ask for? I contend not.

There is room – both on the consumer and the enterprise side – to become the Zappos, Patagonia brands of the security industry – brands that have a loyal following because of their extreme customer centricity. And now with extensive datasets and machine learning technologies available, it is time to use this not just for up-sell but also for ethical sell.

I have a dream.


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