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Retention, Part 39: We Know The Customer

By Sanya Weathers

As the retention series winds to a close, and I look over months of columns, two themes have stood out to me. We’ll hit the other one next week for our conclusion. (Not to my blogging. Oh, no, you can’t escape me that easily. But this theme is played.)

This week’s theme is “the details let you know your customer.” Over the last 38 weeks, in nearly every column, I’ve tried to avoid generalities and provide details, or if possible step by step directions. Partly, that’s because I’ve been trying to use this column to give advice to startups, small businesses, and one-man bands out there who know they need community management, but hiring the manager is two rounds of funding away. Fluffy generalities wouldn’t serve you very well.

But it’s also because that’s what using community management to bolster retention is all about. We are the detail minders. We’re the ones who know what’s fun for our users. We’re the ones who know the users as people – what makes them happy, what annoys them, what they’ve got going on in their lives besides our shared interest in a product. We know how long it’s been since the biggest fansite got an interview, we know when the last in-game event was held, and we know exactly how much it will cost to ship a box of t-shirts to a player-run gathering in Kokomo, Indiana. We know the demographic information for our core customer – but we look for ways to increase retention in the other groups at the same time that we keep our primary group happy.

Knowing your customers is the key to retaining your customers, and to know them means quite a bit more than looking at aggregated data or pie charts. That stuff helps. Mainly what it helps with is planning and budgeting. No pie chart ever offered empathy. Knowing that your typical customer is a North American college student is useless – unless you take that information and avoid scheduling major releases during the final exam period or the first week of school.

The big picture is important. But your community manager sees a different big picture than you do, one that is far more textured, and one that allows for infinite drilling down to the needs of the customer. Meet those needs, and retention takes care of itself.

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Talk Back

Posted on January 3, 2011

See, this is why I say I’m still learning – tags came to the blogging universe years after I started blogging. I’ll go back through and tag the series as “Retention” at some point soon. Thanks for the compliment and the feedback 🙂

Posted on December 29, 2010

Fantastic series, Sanya. Thank you so much for putting in words what any good Community Manager worth their salt knows in their bones but may have difficulties selling to the higher ups.

Now, is there any possibilty you could slap a tag on them? 🙂 I’ve actually told every Community Manager in training I worked with to just go here and read the Modsquad’s blog.

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