How to prevent churn with your enterprise customers

Suresh Shankar


Founder & CEO


Crayon Data
Suresh Shankar
Suresh Shankar

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Suresh Sankar, Founder & CEO of Crayon Data.

In this episode, Suresh shares how he connects the dots looking back going from an account director to marketing, and then to founder. We then touched on what Crayon data is and how it helps it’s enterprise customers with personalization.

We also discussed Crayon data’s process in identifying the gap in the market and the inspiration behind it, their different strategies on how to validate or invalidate markets, and then Suresh shares his views on churn and retention when it comes to enterprise SaaS models

Mentioned Resources



Going from account director to marketing to founder. 00:02:12
What is Crayon data and what the platform does. 00:03:59
Crayon data’s process in identifying the gap in the market and the inspiration behind it. 00:05:47
Strategies on how to validate or invalidate markets. 00:09:26
Churn and retention at Enterprise SaaS models 00:19:17
How do you build structural bonds into work flows 00:29:26


[00:00:43] Andrew Michael: Hey Suresh. Welcome to the show. 

[00:01:30] Suresh Sankar: Hey, Andrew. Lovely to be here. Thank you for having me. 

[00:01:32] Andrew Michael: It's great to have you for the listeners. Suresh is the CEO and founder of crayon data, a fast-growing big data and AI company and the makers of and AI led personalization platform.

So he started out his career as a client services director for JWT fulcrum, the dedicated Unilever media buying agency then made his move into marketing as the VP of marketing ABN AMRO bank. Serious then we're not too far on red pill solutions and analytics and data company that was later acquired by [00:02:00] IBM.

We went on to serve as director of analytics. So my first question for you, Suresh is how do your dots connect, looking backwards, going from account director to marketing to founder? 

[00:02:12] Suresh Sankar: That's a simply a great question because it sums up 36 years of a career in one thing. So I have actually spent all my life Andrew doing one thing, which is helping enterprises understand that customer.

Deep preferences, create products and services, price, retain them, engage them, grow them. That's all I've done, but I've just done it in very different forms. I did it in sales. I didn't product management advertising. Then I did it in media. I did it in regional jobs and Singapore when I was covering Asia.

But in that process, Andrew, I reached the conclusion that I started my career as a right brain model. I realize that more and more it is becoming about data and the left brain and technology. So that led me to stupidly with my high-paying corporate job and set up ripple analytics in [00:03:00] 2000 and Singapore and analytics, wasn't a thing in 2000, it was like, people are talking about it, nobody's actually doing it.

But over the next four years, what happened is that we evangelize the idea of using data to understand customer. You call it, you got to turn it into, go on and got an attrition. And in banking, you know, SaaS, wasn't a thing. So we became the number one analytics and that ended well when IBM acquired us off for global search.

And then again, I looked at what led to crayon it doesn't get them an epiphany of a moment, I was sitting down in 2011 and thinking about life and I said, how do you actually, you can't do up an analytic services company play when the data explosion is magnificent. It's like humor.

You don't have enough people. So then you need to build an AI or a big data platform that can do the same thing better than a human being faster than a human being cheaper than a human being. So I said, okay, the next evolution of this whole journey is to become, build an AI and big data platform. And that led to the idea of prey on data, which I set up in 2012.

[00:03:59] Andrew Michael: Okay. Very [00:04:00] interesting. And maybe you want to listen a little bit about current data, what it is. You do a little bit about the. 

[00:04:04] Suresh Sankar: I think what we tried to do in crayon is very simple. We try to go to a really large enterprises and we've chosen the part of the large enterprise model as enterprise SaaS, rather than a new SaaS model

and we tell the large enterprise. Today, if you are not digital, and if you're not offering personalization, you just simply cannot engage the new customer. Every consumer in the world expects to be a personalized experience service. Now, if you're a Netflix, if you're a Spotify, Amazon, this is dead easy for you to do this whole thing of being relevant and personal and on digital.

Why? Because the metrics they're focused on. How many customers do I sign up? How often do they come back? What my monthly active user, how do I keep them engaged? How much money do they spend? It comes easily to them. Now just shift this to a bank, an airline or hotel, a traditional company. They talk about [00:05:00] it.

It's hard for them to walk that. So parents proposition from the beginning was very simple. When you build this platform for or AI, can I help with traditional large enterprise? Delaware Netflix, Spotify like personalized experiences that drive customer engagement in a matter of weeks, without them having to go through the whole rigmarole of identifying the platform, bringing in the data, building the capability, et cetera.

So we help deliver those kinds of experiences in literally weeks. So when we started working with large enterprises, 

[00:05:33] Andrew Michael: very interesting. And then. This whole process then like identifying the gap in the market and working towards like, how did you start out by identifying and seeing, okay. These were the top of the businesses that we wanted to go after.

These traditional sort of like older incumbents now trying to adopt into like personalization. Like where did the inspiration come to focus on that market? 

[00:05:57] Suresh Sankar: So like with all startups, Andrew, what [00:06:00] happens is that you think of a good idea of television. You want to say, listen, I know what the problem statement is.

I go out and try to solve it. And of course, when you have a success, people write the story backward and make it look like it all look. But, it's never like that you're going up and down and sideways and every which way. And the first four years of crayon, when not dissimilar, I think one thing that's remarkable is that you sit close to the core vision of the.

We've kept the same technology basis, the Peytons and the way we put the AI and the graph and all that, but everything else has changed. So in the beginning we thought we could go in there and talk to companies and say, Hey, we can talk to hundreds of companies and say, here's a personalization platform user for $5,000, et cetera.

And we quickly realized that if you really want to do personalization well and drive customer engagement, which is the end benefit when personalization is a capability and that by itself, What I deliver to them is the ability to understand your customer. And we got it. Do things that when you say profile your customer better, [00:07:00] engage them better.

Drive more transactions, revenue. That's the three use cases that we actually do, right? So if you want to drive customer engagement, we said it's a bloody complex set of processes, a bloody complex set of technologies. You've got to integrate into multiple workflows. Every function in a company looks at this very differently.

So we realize that this whole idea of this $5,000 a month, $10,000 a month of low value, SaaS is not the right model when you're trying to sell a very complex. So we pivoted after about three or four years into saying we will be in what we call the enterprise SaaS segment and in the journey of three or four years after we went through a lot, we tried travel.

We tried hotels and airlines. We tried banking, we tried advertising, we tried multiple verticals and we had obviously innovation projects at Berkeley, each of them. But when it came down to scaling, we said that the large enterprise focused on lifestyle businesses, which for us meant. Credit card, debit card, wallets, travel [00:08:00] industry.

Of course, post COVID travel is not a big thing. Travel, e-commerce peers like this who are dealing with consumer lifestyles, but engaging the customer is simply the most important thing in the daily life of a market. He's the kind of enterprise that we wanted to work with. And then we said, we'll be a large enterprise size.

We'd rather go in there and be, if I were using an analogy, I would rather be at a B, then I would be, let's say slack or FreshWorks as all or nothing. It's it's not a comment on either one, but out of the, it goes in there and they're saying here's a half, a million dollar license.

There's a bunch of integration that you need to, but once you. That you're in for a really long term. So we chose that model to go in into the thing. And that took us quite honestly, Andrew if this one ends as well as my previous startup, I write the story differently. But with the spoilers of like where these kinds of experimentation.

[00:08:55] Andrew Michael: Yeah, I'd say I want to dive into the experimentation on that end a little bit. And also in a bit, I [00:09:00] think we'll talk a little bit about, so the enterprise SaaS metrics and comes to churn and retention, but you mentioned you tried like various verticals and you were testing different things out. And that was like a course of three or four years.

What did that testing look like? Like how did you validate or invalidate certain markets as you were going along? And what are some of the type of tests you were trying to work? Was it marketing related? Was it sales? What were you doing? 

[00:09:26] Suresh Sankar: So it is largely sales related and partnership related.

I would say not marketing related I'm manual, even if you're trying to sell a hundred thousand dollar subscription to a company a year ago. An ACV of 100,000, you have to absolutely be with your customer. Talk to them. They don't sign a hundred thousand dollar checks very easily, right? It's not $10 a month, something that I can download and use.

I think a lot of the experimentation or sales, so what we did is we obviously brainstorm different areas where we thought the core tech would work. Advertising was one of them because we said, how do you do cookie less? [00:10:00] We were really ahead of time not to kill us. Targeting is a thing in 2014 and 15, when we started working on it, it wasn't a thing.

We went into travel and we talk to large hotel chains. We talk large airlines. We went into the space of consumer banking. Quite obviously we went and talked to a few telcos. So we tried a sales model, or we went in and tried to pitch a project and say, this is almost like an innovation project that we'll come in and do, because we have the.

And we can make it work for you. And to some extent, that's what all large, what all startups do, right? If you take Workday, which is now big, it started off as a single tenant on-prem installation in a, in an investment bank, in the U S because you go in that you want that lead client, and you want that lead plan to really work with you, because what you're doing with that lead plan is not the.

What systems am I touching? What are the learning of the data? How, what all can go wrong? That's what we're trying to do in that whole phase. And the second part of it is a partnership that model, right? We went and talked to [00:11:00] a couple of big partners. One was in the advertising space and media buying space.

We talked to people in the airline industry. And we said, how can we help you solve those problems as well? So that entire space of experimentation was by the way we didn't call it experimentation, then you are dead. Sure. You'd be like, oh, okay. We got to go do it beside this partnership.

We're going to get a hundred clients because I have. But as it happened, as you go through that, as you sell to the client, as you make them use it, as you find out the price points, you realize some things don't work. The people may sign up for a pilot, but not. That, what they do at an innovation budget is very different from a BAU budget.

You discover those kinds of things. 

[00:11:41] Andrew Michael: Yeah. And then you figure it out along the way, which segments are best suited and how you can close more effectively. I can imagine as well. 

[00:11:48] Suresh Sankar: And I can give it to, to really, I can give it to customer conversations that turn the pivot for us. If I find me right, the first is I was talking to a CEO of a bank and the CEO of global CEO, [00:12:00] global consumer banking CEO of a bank.

And he says, oh, I believe you've done a pilot for us. And I said, yes. And he said what happened? And I said, they didn't know. They didn't find it useful. And finally he asked me this question, he said, how much do you charge for your pilot? And I said, it's $125,000. It's about $10,000 a month, for the pilot. And he said no wonder. He said, what do you do? And I told them what we do and for the platformers. And he said why don't you try asking for a million dollars? And there's a conversation. Yep. That's it. I got one $25,000. What do you mean? I submitted, let me tell you how it works in a bank projects need to be of certain size for it to come up to me for for review in my monthly review, if it's a billion dollars, it makes a card.

I want to know what are we spending that million dollars on. I'll be getting value out of it. If I have to review it, the guy who's coming to the meeting has to prepare for it. Even if it's one slide. If he has to prepare for it in the first month, and it does not make progress the second month, when he comes back [00:13:00] for that review, he's going to say, I have to make it successful.

Then he's got to go back and tell these guys to make it successful. You know where he says the fact that you are charging more money. In a large environment actually makes for better success. And Andrew that is simply the most counter intuitive learning about customer retention. Sometimes high value is better for, for larger.

There are other stories, but I'll stop that in the interest of. 

[00:13:28] Andrew Michael: Not a super, super interesting, and definitely it's one of those counter-intuitive things, but like listening to your, explain through the workflow and as the bank has makes a lot of sense as well at the end of the day, because it's not just like a K to $10 subscription or a thousand dollars subscription.

That's at stake. It's literally my job now, because we. Taking a bet on a million dollar piece of software. And I need to make this work basically, as I see how it adds positive pressure to the adoption phase for sure. Very interesting. So you mentioned that was one of the conversations, like you said, there was a couple what was the other conversation that sort of [00:14:00] turned it to turn the lights on for you?

[00:14:02] Suresh Sankar: So I'm going to share with you the internal side of the other contradiction, and then I'll try and get it right. One of the things that I realize is that because they didn't do a large enterprise, could be a bank in Atlanta hotel, even a small bank. When you're selling to the large enterprise, everyone says this is likely to become shot.

Your sales cycle cannot become short. We own the point. It can only be compressed to a certain amount of time. Maybe it's. But typically you have to accept that it's a six to nine months sales cycle, simply because that's the pace at which they work. They have to go through processes, compliance, risk, data security, all of this needs to be done.

And we are a data company. Now. It may not be the same if you're not a data company, if you're not touching data, maybe it's. And then we realized that is the actual sales cycle, the cost of acquisition of a customer. And everyone talks about, retention, churn. What are the cost of acquisition of a customer is so high.

And then if your LTV, your value of that contract, or your ACD is low, you are spending a shit [00:15:00] load of money for a very low value contract. And it's going to take your years to. So we realized that not only was it great sense to get into the radar of the bank to make it successful with a large enterprise to make it successful.

But we also realized that it's much better unit economics for us from an LTV to CAC ratio. So now, for example, when I go in there and I say it's a half a million dollar subscription and, to start with or whatever it is and let's say you have a rep. Running, let's say a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

He literally needs to sell us one contract a year for it to become, for me to have a great LTV to CAC ratio. And obviously that's on the, that's not the target. And that's the other interesting side of it. Because sometimes when we look at these things, we look at one type of. And we tend to ignore the cost side of that equation.

What's the cost of that. So I think these are some of my learnings as we did the pivot and said, we want to be in the large enterprise space. Interestingly also I think one of the things that happens is that we realized that [00:16:00] we were using capital. So this is the other story that somebody told me, right?

He says, I cannot implement the solution. If you'll give it to me and say, here's a bunch of API, use it. If I'm a large enterprise by definition, I don't have the tech savvy. I don't know the tech talent. I don't have the process. So the guy said, why are you guys absorbing all? This is actually a client. He said, why are you guys absorbing the cost of doing all those integrations into your product?

Just telling me there's a subscription. It tells me this is all the costs of the integration and apifany integration happily. I don't expect you to have the integrations upfront because I know that the version I have of this database, the version I had, all that is going to be different from the last time.

So this is just pass it on and we're happy to do it. It'll actually speed up your sales cycle. Otherwise, you're trying to put an all of that into this. And so what we also realize is that in this whole process and the clients are telling us. We love the platform, your product will never be meet [00:17:00] all the requirements and use cases that we have.

And if you have to customize the integrate, that's okay, we'll pay you for it. So none of the other big learning that we had, that a platform can be louder than the product, since you will not have built all the product features. Just talk to the client. They're happy to pay for those features to come on the roadmap or to pay for them as a customization or integration.

I know a lot of SaaS guys don't think like that, but I think this is very critical if you want to sell it to a large enterprise, but don't think like that. 

[00:17:29] Andrew Michael: I think for sure. I think we actually had this conversation there with my co-founder and looking at an example, even a, didn't not really enterprise focus, but slack, what they did with the initial enterprise plan where they were literally selling the plan, but just had coming students on the actual plan itself and that.

They were getting signups. They were getting new customers and enterprise level, but knowing that they hadn't even had half the features they'd run in the early days, they were just trying to keep up keep the real spending, but still be able to sell into the enterprise. I definitely see that point.

So something we actually chatting about today and it's interesting as well. I [00:18:00] think we previously as well hosted Kristoff Yance on the show from 0.9 capital and he talks a little bit about the different customers that you can go off to, to build a hundred million dollar business and.

He has a few different buckets. And I think the one that you're doing rights was like, you were going off to elephants. So ideas is that they cause it. And then you started going after whales and the interesting thing then about that as well. It's also just the sheer number of customers you need to get to a hundred million dollar markers or just reduces quite drastically as well.

Although the pool becomes small little, so it just becomes a lot bigger of a deal when you do close a deal as well. 

[00:18:35] Suresh Sankar: Absolutely. And I think the elephant's deal whales model is such a good one. And most of the time, everybody seems to think that it's only going after the minerals and saying outside of the $300 a month is the only way there are so many different ways to build an enterprise.

I'm going to build a second. We've chosen to go after the elephants. 

[00:18:54] Andrew Michael: Yeah, for sure. And the one thing we were talking about just before the sharp is see, when it comes to enterprise sauce [00:19:00] there, the unit economics, the metrics all very different than the way you go about approaching the challenge.

So I think once you get a contract of that size and of that night Shen as you've the amount of effort that goes into the activation period and getting things set up, it's almost very difficult to be pulled out of those situations. So from your perspective, like how are you viewing churn and retention?

How are you going about other like decreasing churn or increasing retention? What are some of the main leavers you're trying to pull for growth with existing. 

[00:19:30] Suresh Sankar: Great. So I think there's not one strategy in this whole model. I think there's multiple ones. You actually mentioned, touched on one of them, which is the whole what slack did, right?

This is the whole idea of a roadmap. Now, one of the things that keeps customers excited is actually the idea that, okay, I don't get everything today, but I know something. And in the old world, when let's say Oracle, you sell a release of a database. Once in every two years, no one knew what was coming, but the [00:20:00] idea of having a constant conversation with your customer on what is coming and tell them this is be a partner, tell me what you want.

And it may not be available today, but I'll put it into my backlog and I put it by the roadmap and I'll let you put it out. I find that's a very good thing. And I'll tell you why Andrew not because of money or not because of. This becomes a strategic conversation that you have with the customer.

And then the customer is like, when they're sitting inside and doing the evaluation, you're not in the room is saying, I know that's not available. I know the other guy is giving it to me, but many things are already worked inside the software. And I know this is coming so that strategic engagement becomes very good.

And even if you're, let's say in a business where you're saying, you're not talking to a customer very frequently, it's still possible for you to like what slack did, so to me, that's a very big thing in customer retention and almost critical when you're a larger enterprise SaaS model.

But I think in any level of SaaS publishing a roadmap is a very [00:21:00] useful thing because one of the things that people do when they switch and I've seen it right, we've switched from last year at the height of the pandemic, for example, We switched from using Google G suite and zoom and slack three different platforms to just using Microsoft.

But we went through a lot and every time we looked at it and said, oh, but I get this feature, but it's coming there. Should I wait? Or should I not pay when you put the feature out there? I think it lacks doubts in people's mind. The second thing is obviously metrics, right? And I think metrics matter more than anything else for us the way.

Engagement. And we do this stuff with churn. Andrew is we focus on what we call the not some metric that we focus on is the metric that matters to the customer. So for us, it's not, if I want to protect my churn, I focus on the value that I have to give the customer and that, because our engine is about customer engagement is what we call the monthly [00:22:00] activities.

How many users are you engaging? Did I help you improve that engagement? How much are they spending? Did I help you improve that? Spend through my engine? That number is something that we try to relate listing, tracking our business. If I deliver that number, then I know that my turn, which is a consequence of the value I deliver will be lower.

And then we got a bunch of subsidiary metrics in each of them. How many customers did I onboard? How much did I engage them? How much are they driving the transactions? What am I doing? Each of them has a subset, which is what the dashboard that we show appliances. 

[00:22:36] Andrew Michael: Yep. I think that's like one of the holy grails when it comes to metrics and the licks is actually being able to measure the value that your product delivers to your customer, the direct value.

So not just what features they're interacting with or how they're using the product, but more, what is the outcome that the product delivers? And some businesses can do it easier than others, but yeah. When you can actually measure the direct impact that you're giving, because I think ultimately they come to [00:23:00] with a problem or they're looking to improve certain aspects.

And if you can prove to them that this is what's actually happening with the product or service, it's almost like it gives no reason ever for churn. I also really liked the point as well about the roadmap that you mentioned, like having those conversations with customers and allowing them to see what's coming on void because also the other aspect is.

At year one, the problems that your customer has are not the same as your zero when they first purchased your product. Their needs are changing. They're evolving over time and the same problems that they have today. Aren't what they were before. They've not become more sophisticated. They have a personalization set up.

Now it's about the next level and having that discussion, being able to see and preempt what those next steps are really great with. Avoiding them looking elsewhere and seeing what else is in the market to solve some of the new challenges with that? 

[00:23:51] Suresh Sankar: I think things like sorry, if I may, I think other things also matter structural agreements matter far too often with SaaS models where you're [00:24:00] trying to say I have a hundred customers.

The only way you actually do it is to say, I charge you a thousand dollars a month, but if you signed for annual contract, I $10,000, right? So you get them to pay upfront. And that works obviously for one year. And then you say, let me start putting it all there for the end of the year to get that person to renew.

But one of the things I again, when you look at it in the enterprise as pocket, what we try and do is what is the structural binding that I do in terms of the cancellation, in terms of the ways in which they can get out of the current. It's one thing that we try and focus on a lot, and this really means that we want to make it difficult for them.

When they come to the moment to pull the plug, to make it difficult, to pull the plug, you have to integrate very deeply into systems. So that taking out that needle of the engine that we put will cause them more pain, then, then just leaving it. So I'll give you an example, right? We have a, we working with a very large credit card [00:25:00] company.

The guy said, oh, we love your personalization engine, but we want you to build a feature that will deliver the personalization to the concierge. Not on the digital app. We didn't have that feature. We talked about it in the roadmap issue. We said, should we do it? We said your ability now here's the thing.

Any customer of that credit card company that calls the concierge is now seeing a screen. That's powered by our application. Of course they can churn. They have to think about what had happened to that screen. Now they're trained all that people in that screen, what had happened to that screen. Now, if you take it.

So I think that's what I'm talking about. How do you build in structural bonds, into work flows that people have, which makes it harder for them is another thing that I think people should do. 

[00:25:45] Andrew Michael: Absolutely. And I think at that point, you say, once you get built into somebody's workflow and if even like stronger, like you say, if it's user-facing for their users as well, becomes like a part of their experience, it becomes very difficult to [00:26:00] just really becomes part of their infrastructure.

And once you become part of the infrastructure, it's like one of those forgotten things, it's not okay, should we other part something new and try and figure it out? Yeah. It's solving our problem. Like we have other bigger problems. We have other requests on our road map. Like we don't need you to spending engineering resources working on competency.

That's not our core competencies. Absolutely. I want to ask a question that asked every guest that joins the show. Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. So you joined a new company and tryna retention is not being good at this company. And the CEO comes to you and says, Hey, Suresh, we really need to turn things around.

We need to do it fast. We have 19. You're in charge and you're going to try and reduce trend for this company, but here's the catch. You're not going to say I'm going to speak to customers, understand the pain points and then tackle the first problem. What you're going to do is just take something that you've seen be effective in the past.

And one of the companies that you've been at and run with that strategy brought blindly, like what would be that one thing that you would want to try for this company that you've seen be effective in [00:27:00] reducing, uh,churn and retention quickly. 

[00:27:03] Suresh Sankar: I presume you're talking about, I rather the company, it's a B2B SaaS company, right?

It's not, you're not talking about, let's say a telecom or a bank or something like that. Yes. Okay. So I think the one thing I would really focus on is to make sure that we go to every customer and get them the monthly active dashboard, my monthly active user dashboard, operational in modern, more users inside that company.

What I want is I want my product, whatever the product is. I don't know. It could be a workflow system. It could be personalization. Anything else? I want people in that company to work, wake up and say, let me go and ask this thing. First thing in the morning, the question that I wanted to ask him, if so that dashboard, I would work on that one layer saying, how do I show people?

What my product is doing for you in your life. That one feature [00:28:00] are most of the time the PJ exists, but it's never something that we put out there. It's never something that we go and talk about it. So that's the one thing that I would pick up. 

[00:28:09] Andrew Michael: Share the value and how it's being used on a daily basis. 

[00:28:12] Suresh Sankar: I give you, I'll give you an example of something that I think really works for me.

We moved into, we've tried different OKR tools. There's not a plug for the company I'm going to talk about, but we moved into a new OKR tool about seven months ago. And they integrated into our Microsoft teams. They're a good tool. They don't care. There are other tools out there every Friday at 3:00 PM, Singapore.

The damn thing pops up and tells me, update your OKR for the week. It's not just the reminder, the moment they updated, it tells me where I stand. What happens is it's. I don't know about this one. I don't know whether they talk to it. I don't know that it's a bunch of luck Andrew, but because it's Friday and it's about 3:00 PM or 4pm.

I feel good because after I fill in my OKR update, I get a view of where I stand. [00:29:00] That view enables me to go off to the weekend and say, am I doing well or not have a good week? And I'm skimming a sworn example of how there's something like an OKR tool, active user, how much section that I made it makes me feel good about it.

A feature like that is whatever. And promote 

[00:29:16] Andrew Michael: it's to understand the timing Sylvia, it could go both ways. There could have a really good weekend or really bad weekend. 

[00:29:21] Suresh Sankar: Hopefully people don't have good weekends anyway, but 

[00:29:26] Andrew Michael: I get what you're saying. Cool. So last question I want to ask then for today, what's one thing that you know about chin and retention today that you wish you knew when you got started with your career.

[00:29:36] Suresh Sankar: The idea of loyalty was very strong. When I started my career at a lawyer, you said a big thing that people talk about loyalty marketing, and I have felt for the last 10 years or so that loyalty is there. There is no loyalty. No, the moment, the thing that is no loyalty, your entire attitude, whether you're a B2B SaaS company here, but they are not bank Beto, whichever [00:30:00] industries.

Then you start to think about the idea. I'm actually talking about a group thing, not a technique and all that. We have to start with the assumption that loyalty is there. No one is loyal to anybody anymore for anything. And I feel that if I had this thought in my head 15, 20 years ago, I would have done many things very differently, by the way, it is very hard to get this started to people say, It is just very hard because people say no, I'm very good at this.

I am done. We have done this. We've done that. But I just keep saying all of these abandoned that we are putting on the problem now in the world is that when you have a world of finite choice, when everything is one or two clicks or three takes away, loyalty is completely there. You should just, so that's the one thing that I really wish I had operated on.


[00:30:50] Andrew Michael: I think I mentioned this a few times on the show as well, but I think one of the things that I really liked was something that David dominant from, which I mentioned to me once. And he's like, [00:31:00] when you build a product or service, you should ask yourself like where you sit on the budgets list. So when things get tough are you on the top or you're at the bottom and are you going to be one of the first products that are thrown out so that the last to leave?

And it goes back to what you were saying earlier in terms of like, how do you build yourself into people's workflows? That's how you build loyalty, like inverted quotes. It's more just like, how can you ingrain? Can you get in the workflow? Because like you said, today is the abundance of choice. It really is just so easy to make switching costs, like with new tools coming to market like segments.

I remember this as well at Hotjar like segment used to be a gateway to get out of every tool. So segment introduced like a replay feature where you could replay your data to any new service or tool. So you're no longer locked into any other traditional tool with your day to day. Take that data and put into any other, then the next product.

So the switching costs today, I've just become low and low as you're going forward. And I really I totally agree with firmness pointed. There is no loyalty today, so figuring that out. 

[00:31:56] Suresh Sankar: I'm just thinking, sorry to interrupt Andrew, but I'm just thinking, [00:32:00] just like we had a situation where I switched out of zoom and slack and go G suite into Microsoft team.

Microsoft team shouldn't be resting on its laurels thinking I'm loyal. I'm not going to be loyal if something else comes along and it's really good and they make the switching costs though, I will switch. And therefore it's a constant thing that I need to keep doing things to make sure I'm relevant.

And there's another counter thought that I shared with you. Sorry, I won't take one more minute because I think it's a very interesting point. We talked about workflows and I said, make yourself. I think the other extremely billing strategy is very hard to do is to make yourself completely invisible.

It feels so deep in some system that no one knows you exist. Then when they go on and find out that I'm going to pull you out, they're going to struggle. So I think you've got to be a highly visible, a highly invisible and deeply embedded. 

[00:32:53] Andrew Michael: I like the other two counter points, but definitely like serving the same purpose at the end of the day.[00:33:00] 

Very nice. So this has been a pleasure chatting to you today. Is there any final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with anything they should be aware of from your side from crayon data? 

[00:33:08] Suresh Sankar: I, I'm Andrew, like you, I'm a podcaster. I run a podcast called Slaves to the algo. I believe the entire future of the world is going to be driven by data and algorithms.

And fundamentally it's already taken over all our lives. Sometimes we are aware of it. Sometimes we are not. And my whole podcast slips to the algo is about demystifying the age of the algorithm. And as the name would suggest, I think the jury is out there. Are we going to be slaves to the algo or will we be masters of it?

And these are choices that we need to make. And I think a lot of the thoughts that I have on not just churn and retention, but how indices are evolving, how people are using data. Isn't that? So we'd love to have your viewers and listeners going to come in and listen to Slaves to the algo

[00:33:49] Andrew Michael: very interesting.

Definitely drop a note in the show notes as well to check that out and yeah, thanks so much. It's been a pleasure hosting you today and wish you best of luck now. [00:34:00] 

[00:34:00] Suresh Sankar: And thank you and very much the same to you, Andrew as well. And hopefully, maybe I'll be blessed with the with the curse of no churn.

[00:34:07] Andrew Michael: I have no channel. Yeah. Cool. Thanks. Just 


Suresh Shankar
Suresh Shankar

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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