Hello world! This is Quijano broadcasting from Hubli, India.
Take away: Never waste people’s time. :]
Anu has convinced me to wrap up life in the United States and dedicate the next few years to increase access to water for the people, as the next Chief Operating Officer.
This is my 3rd day in the office and I have a lot to share on mobilizing individuals to create change.
To get straight to business, we’ve had a major disconnect with our customer base. This was one of my first observations being in the office.
How did I notice this? Well our customer surveys told me so.
Tuesday (first day in the office): Diving into the deep end. We kept our sales team (11 people) in the office because we had no direction on where they needed to be. Our office is barely set up to support 10 comfortably.
So where does the sales team go when the operations team is taking up all the space. The kitchen.
And what happens when you cram the sales team in a space not built for making sales calls? Not a whole lot.
Yup that’s what happened Tuesday. I was close to sending them home worried that nothing measurable would be accomplished. Instead they called customers to get feedback and informed them we planned on billing them this week.
What did we learn at the end of the day? We didn’t have a feedback mechanism in place to get the most out of our customer interactions. Poor interaction with a customer means potentially losing that customer.
I attended a great workshop in Ahmadabad hosted by GIZ – CIIE, at the IIM at Ahmadabad. This was my second day in India, everyone at the workshop knew me as the kid who was attending the workshop on his second day in India. Anu was known as the business partner to the kid who was attending the workshop on his second day in India. Overall, the workshop provided a lot of information on how to improve and scale our start-up. Feedback mechanisms were stressed heavily.
Wednesday (second day in the office): I pulled an all nighter reading the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries. I’m an Industrial Engineer and I know that Lean Manufacturing works well to create change fast. Anu also highly recommended the book!
From the book I pulled a fundamental concept of Lean Start-ups the “Build-Measure-Learn feed-back loop” and my goal was to see how NextDrop’s customer interactions could benefit from this concept.
What we did:
- Targeted areas of the city which were receiving good service from us.
- Identified which customers in those areas had already paid for the service once.
- Sent our sales team into the field to survey and collect.
The results from our experiment were horrible.
- Out of our list of 103, we managed to contact 51.
- Out of the 51 customers we contacted, 16 wanted to continue.
- 31% retention rate.
- Our surveys took 10 minutes of our customer’s time on average.
After seeing the results we mobilized the operations team to accomplish a few things.
- Analyze our results from the day.
- Produce a complete list of all areas where customers have been billed twice.
- Cross reference the list of billed areas with the list of areas receiving good service.
- Develop a script to speak with customers in a positive manner.
Our thoughts at the end of the day:
- Hypothesis 1: Our customers pay 10 rupees to be informed about water delivery, not to be hassled by sales associates.
- Hypothesis 2: Our customers have a limited time period before we become a hassle.
- Hypothesis 3: Our customers will be more responsive if we change our tone.
I left the office tired and a bit discouraged.
Thursday (3rd day in the office): We gave our sales associates a day off for the operations team to design the proper feedback mechanism to engage our customers.
Anu spent the morning developing the script with 2 operations members, Abhishek and Melwyn. After each phone call we documented the results and modified the approach until we were confident we had a script to test our hypotheses. The team also got the conversations down below 1 minute.
Once we had the proper feedback mechanism in place, it was time to trust our operations team and let them loose. They made phone calls this time based on data driven list, checking in every 5 calls and then every 10 calls until they had stabilized results.
Here are the results of our smart work:
- 77 customers contacted.
- 48 customers verbally committed to continue with service.
- 62% retention rate!
Yes! An noticeable increase in retention rate — hypothesis proved. Now we have to bill, collect and find out the true retention rate of our customers.
Looking forward to keeping you all in the loop at the progress we’re making at NextDrop.
Until next time, Quijano.