How to set up a monthly churn insights meeting and how it helps drive retention

Trey Hoffman


VP of Customer Experience


Trey Hoffman
Trey Hoffman

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Trey Hoffman, VP of Customer Experience at Fleetio. 

In this episode, Trey shares insights into their monthly churn insights meeting, and the key KPIs shared during this meeting. 

We then discussed why SMB-focused Customer Success reps are called SMB Analysts, and how Fleetio’s Customer Success service differs between their customer segments.

Mentioned Resources



An overview of Fleetio’s monthly churn insights meeting 00:00:00
Why SMB focused customer success reps are called SMB Analysts 00:00:00
How Fleetio’s Customer Success service differs between their customer segments 00:00:00
The key KPI tracked in their monthly churn insights meeting 00:00:00


[00:01:17] Andrew Michael: Hey, Trey. Welcome to the. 

[00:01:19] Tray Hoffman: Hey, it's exciting to be 

[00:01:20] Andrew Michael: here. It's great to have you for the listeners traced the VP of customer experience at fleet. The number one fleet management software trusted by thousands of fleets around the world. , prior to fleet, Trey started his careers and engineer at computer technology solutions and then served as VP of technology at inter.

He then followed that COO a Ticketbis and director of operations at Etex before joining fleeter. So my first question for you. How have you managed your career transitions and what motivated them? I mean, going from engineering to ops now it's customer experience. 

[00:01:55] Tray Hoffman: Yeah. So my first four years I was a consultant.

Right. And one of the things you learn quickly as a consultant is [00:02:00] engineers. Don't always. Or, you know, relate to the business problem and the customer problem. And so what I kind of quickly learned was I had the ability to talk, um, to the, to the customer and, and explain some of the, some of the more nuanced technical details.

Uh, and I enjoyed that side of the, the sort of the house. And so I quickly, um, went from developer lead developer, but then started to become what we called an engagement manager. And that was where I really sort of started to thrive and enjoy. You know, talking to customers and learning their problems and figuring out how we could solve them.

And then the engagement manager was actually responsible for delivering the deals as well. So we would go in and make sure that we were executing the sort of consulting process all the way to sort of start to finish. Um, and I just enjoyed that. So people became. Like part of, part of my gig, I guess, uh, from there, we got the opportunity at INTA to, to, to join a team and, and build sort of a technology stack.

And again, that's for my first [00:03:00] sort of actually running a group of people who just interfaced with people as well. Uh, and then of, of course, moving into ticket biscuit and, and, and now here at philio, I, I run large teams of people, um, that just interact with folks. And so it is really quite. 

[00:03:14] Andrew Michael: Nice. So the engagement manager that was like, I think from what I had other companies like more like a solutions architect type, um, role working with clients, potentially working with sales team as well and helping them get set up or.

[00:03:30] Tray Hoffman: Yeah. So it was actually a, um, like a project as a manager of project managers, if you will. So, and then part of what we would do is what we kind of referred to as walking in the halls. So you would be assigned a certain number of accounts and you would literally go walk the halls and meet, um, people within those accounts.

I always kind of referred, going to the smoking tree. So you'd go to the smoking tree or hear all the problems. Going on in that company. And then you'd go run to the manager. I just heard at the spoken tree that you need some, you know, and you would, you would help them sort of then understanding their problems, [00:04:00] um, coming up with solutions and then delivering on those solutions.

So it's really, you could think of that role as like a, a manager of project managers, um, with, to your point on the sales side of actually participating in and helping identify and, uh, close deals, 

[00:04:14] Andrew Michael: close deals. Did you say to the smoking. 

[00:04:18] Tray Hoffman: Right. Yeah. So every company has a tree where, uh, this maybe shows my age, maybe not as much anymore where everybody goes outside and smokes.

Right. And that's, what's one of, one of the key things is when you go out to smoke is you're relieving stress. And, uh, you're talking about all the problems. So it's a good place to be. If you're a 

[00:04:35] Andrew Michael: consultant. I've never heard that one before. I thought maybe it's some analogy that I'm not aware of, but it's literally a tree outside for going for a smoke.

Okay. Um, cool. So we were talking as well. Uh, just before we started recording that you had run back from lunch. You had a meeting now, uh, with the company, with the CEO, uh, related to churn, literally. So it is really, really timely and relevant. Um, and this is a [00:05:00] monthly meeting, the churn metric meeting, I think you mentioned exactly.

Or maybe give us a little bit of an overview. What this meeting is about and how it's tructure. 

[00:05:08] Tray Hoffman: So when I joined a video a little over three and a half years ago, we were doing what a lot of companies do, which is, you know, starting to address some of the churn, um, metrics and, and gross and local churn and probably about a year in or so we realized that we wanted to formalize this conversation and we wanted to get executive buy-in.

So the words we use is churn insights. And so each month we prepare the churn insights and we dive into every churn that happened in the last 30 days. And so the, the agenda for the meeting is to bring all the executives, some of the product leaders in and. We started, I guess it has evolved over time.

Right? So we started with a fairly light agenda and we would, um, figure out how to automate some of these numbers. So what was our churn month over month, the last four years, all these kind of things, just to sort of do some analysis. [00:06:00] And then we started looking at avoidable churn versus unavoidable churn, and I know at some.

Sort of automatically to say like, oh, there such thing as unavoidable churn, but you do wanna like segment out all the people who just went out of business. And so then if we're looking at avoidable churn, try to jump into the cancellation code. So what we learned is, as we started meeting every single month is that there would be areas where we couldn't articulate questions would come up.

Like, why are we not tracking this cancellation code? Why are we not doing this? So we would go dive in. And we would try to figure out with a SaaS business. Like we are, you have a lot of Dunning. And so then we started to say, let's come up with a process for demystifying. Put cancellation codes. Can we look into the data if we can't get any kind of customer feedback and we actually even slowed down some of the term conversations during the pandemic, so you could cancel right in the software, um, which made it even harder to capture, you know, sentiment.

But with the pandemic, we wanted to have an opportunity to, uh, play on some of our sort of retention playbooks more, more directly. And so we actually nowadays get more [00:07:00] conversations and more understanding. So it's about, you know, each month getting together. Talking about statistics and then automating those into our BI tool and putting all that data so that we can kind of quickly get to it and then attacking the next thing.

So at this point, you know, we look at cancellation reasons, we look at all kinds of different customer analysis. We look at feature categories like did they use this feature category? And we have four words we use for it. Was it adopted, abandoned, investigated, or unused? And we start to look at, you know, those metrics as to what was the customer able to accomplish.

As we think about adoption, these things we look at add-ons we look at all the feedback that all the customers have given us, whether it's NPS challenges, CSAT, the number of support tickets we segment highly. We look at all the different industries, um, and you know, we really wanna focus on our most important industry.

So we kind of like some industries were okay with that. Let's okay. We're never okay with churn, but like we're, we're more. Okay. But we really wanna focus on what our tier one industries are and [00:08:00] then more so than anything, we've started really focusing on stories lately. So picking out particular turns and discussing why we won, why we lost.

And the evolution of their journey. And so we actually have our mid-market, um, CSM key lead our, uh, SMB sort of analyst lead and our enterprise CSM lead show up. And they tell those stories, cuz stories can sometimes just really unlock things and be way more memorable. Uh, and we try to drive insights. Uh, so even, uh, we came away with like, even this morning, like two more action items of like, let's go.

Start picking out like these turns back to the opportunities and the salesperson and let's determine like, was there a clawback period? Was there not? So there's like every time we just evolve a little bit. So it's very formal with all the right people in the room and forces us to really look at and think about statistically and as well as with a, like an eye of the stories what's going on with our churn.

[00:08:59] Andrew Michael: [00:09:00] Yeah. I like think of it as like a focused meeting as well. It's like maybe not one of the first times, but it is not something you have heard often on the show where it's like a fixated once a month meeting just to talk about churn.

But I like it for the fact that you've mentioned as well as like each time you've gone forward and you've iterated on your knowledge and expertise and understanding of the problem. You've uncovered new areas that you need to, to learn more about. And it gives you like a specific focus. Time to do that action, because I think so often, like you're not in organizations, we know it's a problem, we have hunches, but we don't like really set to spend the time, uh, to actually go through this process and really ask the right questions at the right time.

So it sounds very, very interesting, like just as it of approach that you've taken over time, just learning more and more about the challenge, the problem. Purely through just having this, this cadence of a meeting where people can ask the questions and dive into the data. 

[00:09:53] Tray Hoffman: There's, it's kinda like when you have a metric and you wanna watch that metric, it's not always a KPI, right?

Like it doesn't always get up to the, [00:10:00] so sometimes a metric, just be something you're monitoring and. But if it does you wanna be aware of it and it also gives us a really nice deliverable. So it's something that we do give to our board and it's, it gives us a nice deliverable that we're actually able to share with people when they ask us questions about churn so that we can actually give them that level of insight.


[00:10:19] Andrew Michael: And I think as well, like. Dashboards don't really do, uh, things justice as well. Like just having a dashboard. That's the like key execs can go and access and see what signature our attention. Like, I think there is so much nuance within it and things to understand and learnings that can be had that can't be explained from looking at dashboard alone.

So I think having this combination, as you say, like with stories being told, uh, bringing some insights to the table and then being able to discuss around those. A specific time is really cool. I think you also mentioned something as well. We've chatted about a previous on the show with Emer IO, uh, from a horror pulse.

Learnings in terms of like what you can measure [00:11:00] versus what you, can't, why you shouldn't be tracking if people are going out of business, because if you're trying to improve churn and retention and 25% of that is happening because people are going outta business, not many companies are in the business of keeping their customers in business.

So like, uh, I think that's just, like you said, there are, I agree. There are certain. Types of churn that are unavoidable. Um, and then without outside of your control as well, can you give us a little bit of context fleet as well? Just in terms of, um, the type of customer you serve, like the size are we between SMBs mid-market enterprise, uh, customers, uh, when you talk about churn insights, like, are we talking about hundreds or thousands of customers or single digit customers when you come to these meeting?

[00:11:45] Tray Hoffman: That's a great question. So fleet has a large Tam or total addressable market because we're in the fleet space. And it's probably easiest to explain that any vehicle you see that has a logo, a picture, a phone number on the side of it could be a customers. They're come [00:12:00] to us to help maintenance their fleet and keep their, their fleet on the.

Because we're a SaaS product. And we're sort of really from our earliest days that have done product like growth. We do have a very long tail of customers. We have thousands of customers that are very, quite small, that we may not even invest heavily in. Um, they can come in, they can trial the program and buy without even talking to us.

And that also means that we're having an international focus. So we have really a very large number of international customers. And so. To your point around, you know, can we, you know, what do our numbers look like? And can we really like look and focus on every single customer that turns at the, at the moment we are still able to statistically look at them all, but those stories, we really try to highlight the, the.

The ones that are really quite important, but yes, we, we don't care if they go outta business and we may not, there may be certain geographies that we don't, we don't have great integrations and that we may be less important to us, but if they're in our bread and butter. So to your point of like, who do we serve?

We do have some tier one, um, industries [00:13:00] like trucking and freight eight and, um, couriers. And so we have these certain industries that we really take personal if we lose 'em, you know, so we really watch those closely. 

[00:13:10] Andrew Michael: You watch them. And does this influence the, the metrics meeting that you put together?

Like how do you segment what you're gonna sharing with the team and how much effort goes into each segment or industry that you, uh, put together? These reports. 

[00:13:27] Tray Hoffman: Right. So to your point on dashboarding, it's all in a dashboard. Um, so we, we already have everything instrumented and we're able to go do deeper analysis.

But what we do is we look at certain to your segmenting question. We actually look at say, okay, let's talk about vehicle counts. How many customers do we have in the six to 15? How many do we have in 16 to 25, 26 to 50. And then we look at the analysis and say, um, what's the average number of customers we've had over the last 12 months?

How many turn this month? What's the average turn. And so we actually allowed. Segments to sort of identify themselves. So [00:14:00] same thing in sub-industry. So we actually plot. I'll allow the numbers to say, this is what our sort of averages are. And then here's ones where we average higher than normal, less than normal.

And then we go do and dig from there. So it's like the segmenting at first, because there are so many different ways you can classify and categorize. The first thing we do is just analyze the segments and then deep dive into the segment as needed. And then if there's a pattern where we will actually.

Whether it's a tier one like industry. So we really just do care about it. Or if it's something that's new and, you know, sort of like we need to dig into and figure out why we're losing in this particular area, we really dive into that specific segment. 

[00:14:38] Andrew Michael: Okay. Uh, and then putting these, uh, these decks together.

Cause I think you mentioned as well, like 70 slides in an hour. It's a lot of, uh, data. Yeah. Uh, how involved is the team, uh, in this and I'm making assumptions now, but if certain teams are serving different clientele, like tier one or tier two, um, are they responsible for putting these reports [00:15:00] together for this monthly meeting?

Or is it something that just maybe like yourself or one or two others are putting these things together? Yeah, 

[00:15:07] Tray Hoffman: that's a good question. So, um, our enterprise CSMs and our mid-market CSMs are assigned portfolios, right? So they have a group of customers that they, they, um, engage with and build relationships all the time.

But SMB, we don't use the word. We don't use CSM. We call them actually analysts or SMB analysts. Because again, it's kinda like here might be one verse 40 here might be one verse 200. They're literally like a group of analysts verse all the long tail customers. So they actually live in the data all the time.

So that group does, is responsible for putting together, um, the. Data around the larger portfolio. And then when it comes into stories, we actually bring in the enterprise and mid-market CSMs to come in and tell the stories around the, you know, why we lost, why we won on the same screen with the features that they did or didn't adopt.

And then tell us the story [00:16:00] of. How engaged were they, were they really engaged? And this one really hurt? Did they ghost us or did they show up as a flag at risk? And we tried to run an at-risk playbook and it never, we never could, you know, get that relationship. Did they meet with the onboarding team and bail out, uh, the onboarding team or did they have a successful onboarding?

And they were even using some of the more disruptive parts of our program. So now we know they went to a competitor. All those sort of story pieces are brought by the CSMs, but the analyst team who lives in the data actually prepares the. 

[00:16:30] Andrew Michael: Interesting. So you have a few different team members, then all putting this together all on a monthly basis.

Uh, makes sense as well in terms of the segmentation and, uh, how they focus. And definitely, I, I like the. The notion of like an SMB analyst, as opposed to a CSM in the sense that like most of the time, there's not much like interaction with customers. And most of the role is around like automations and analyzing data to see how you can improve the experience.

So it's an interesting, uh, take. [00:17:00] 

[00:17:00] Tray Hoffman: We do, we do, our analysts do spend a, um, a lot of time with customers, but at trying to figure out where the right place is. And we kind of like sometimes use us like a, like a grade school principal. Like if you're the principal of a school, you have a students, you have that students.

And when we think about churn, we think a lot of times about our DNF students, but we actually want them spending a lot of time with our, a students as well. So we need them to be focused both on at risk. If you're looking at the data and there's thousands of customers that you could reach out. To your, your priorities around, how do you approach the at risk customers, but also how do you approach those great customers that could expand and move on to actually sort of earning their way into a CSM

So they, they spend a lot of time in the data to make sure that they're strategic and they know where they can be best leveraged. Mm, 

[00:17:44] Andrew Michael: that's interesting. And do you have that same philosophy here than in the mid-market? Uh, cause I like that sort of thinking it, seeing it through that lens in the sense that at SMB, you typically always have a lot higher chance for churn.

And if we look at like metrics and next you would see typically like SMB [00:18:00] customers tend to churn a lot more. So perhaps spending time with those that are successful to making them more successful in the likelihood. And then succeeding is good, but maybe in the mid-market you maybe wanna be focused more.

On the Fs and the ease, cuz they typically tend to be a bit more stickier. Is this how it is? Or. Yeah, I 

[00:18:16] Tray Hoffman: think in the mid-market we spend a lot of time where the customer is in their journey, right. So, um, if they're in their early stages of the journey and the mid-market team will spend a lot of time with them.

But then when you're talking about people that are in other parts of the journey, maybe they're in the renewal portion of the journey. Um, but yes, otherwise they're looking at data to figure out who have I not built a relationship with recently, who have I not speaking to recently. And then they are looking at those sort.

F students probably more so than, uh, the enterprise cuz an enterprise, everybody tends to be an, a student, right? Like you're you just have way more time and a white glove experience there. Yeah. So in the mid-market with a larger portfolio you're right. Like you do actually get into the data and probably spend a little more time on your, um, you know, at risk [00:19:00] customers 

[00:19:00] Andrew Michael: at just custom customers, interest customers.

Yeah. Nice. So you've been doing this as well then for quite a while this meeting three years. I'm gonna ask two questions. Like what is the most impactful metric that you share during these meetings?

[00:19:16] Tray Hoffman: Yeah, that's a great question. Um, I would say when you're running a fleet, There is a significant number of categories you have to be good at and fleet do. Doesn't help you be good at all those categories. We really specialize in operation kind of operations and really into maintenance. So we're pretty much like that's our niche as we wanna be world class maintenance.

So we do spend a lot of time digging into. Did they investigate our different maintenance features? Did they adopt them? And our term for adoption means that they used it consistently for three months. Did they abandon it? Which is they used it for three months and then abandoned it, uh, investigated means we see act that [00:20:00] they, they tried, but they never even got to the point.

Of of really using it or was it just straight unused, meaning that we kind of even failed the product market to them to understand that that value. So I would say the most important thing for us to stay focused on what we're world class at and where our niche is, is really truly understanding. Even though you can come into our product is very large and you can do all these things is where.

Is the maintenance wheel is what we call it. And how did they interact with the maintenance wheel? And did we fail to get them to some point of value or did we get them to some point of value and couldn't sustain it because they needed to evolve in a certain way? You know, so it's really, for us, I would say, know what, you're the values you're trying to drive for us.

It's maintenance and a fleet, and really over index on, did you drive that value to the customer? 

[00:20:53] Andrew Michael: Ah, so really focusing on that really, I think this is something as well. We chatted to Heidi Gibson at the time. I think she was [00:21:00] at GoDaddy really like driving deep into what is the end value that your product delivers?

Why do people come to you to the beginning and then using that as your like key metric, your KPI that you track in their case, it was like they were working on a website builder and. People came to them, not to build a website, but if they were a head dresser was to book appointments, or if it was an store was to sell, uh, goods and services.

Uh, so the end result was like, they ended up focusing on like, how can we help drive more sales or get more bookings as the main KPI that they were trying to drive. And then they're reverse engineered their, the behavior back from there to see, okay, what do the most successful companies do that sell the most products?

Okay. They connect their social accounts first day or whatever. That's part of the onboarding now. And they just went backwards from there. But having like that key focus and understanding of like, what is that main value driver that's you provide your customers? It keeps them sticking around, uh, is really, really important.


[00:21:54] Tray Hoffman: Yeah, we, we definitely that maintenance well is very important to us because it's, whether they're doing proactive maintenance or reactive [00:22:00] maintenance, are they doing their, their PMs and actually like doing the world changes ahead of time? Or is it breakdown, maintenance? And then if they're not capturing and, and mastering that workflow, they're not capturing all the data that then allows them to do insights and allows our platform to provide guidance to them.

So, Without workflow, we don't get the data into the system to give them the ability to make their own insights, or even to provide them guidance through our ability to look at their data and give them insights. 

[00:22:25] Andrew Michael: Nice. Um, yeah. So moving on as well, then you talked a little bit about the stories, uh, that you have, and you mentioned like midmarket are the ones telling the stories they're coming in.

Maybe you can elaborate on that a little bit, cuz I think definitely when it comes to specifically data and analytics. Stories is really the most powerful and engaging thing you can do. And you can present. If you can present data in a meaningful way, by telling a story, you definitely have that impact and that lasting, like people pay attention.

They're gonna take notice and they're gonna drive impact. So how do you structure those? Like, um, what goes into them? [00:23:00] 

[00:23:00] Tray Hoffman: Yes. It's really interesting. Cause like one of the key takeaways from the book sapiens, which of course was all the rage, you know, sort of Silicon and valley for a while. Is this like idea of like, what is a story?

And you think pre-history and what did humans do? Well, before we could write things down, we just told stories and why is the ill and Odyssey rhyme? And these are some of the first written down stories. Well, I had to rhyme because we had to remember it, right. People were sort of wrapping their way through history to start.

And so humans just naturally hear stories. We want to hear stories. You can look at analytics all day long and maybe if you're good enough, you'll remember like, okay, that was 87.3%. But, but you actually always do remember the stories cuz it's just, we're wired that way. So what we wanted to do was not over index on data all the time in that meeting, but actually bring those stories so that, um, I think one of the key things you can over index on when you're building out a customer experience team is like muting the customer.

You can say we're gonna exist to hear all this stuff. And then we're gonna try to like. Transpose it and give it so we don't wanna mute the customer. We really want their story to come [00:24:00] through. And the executives hearing that the, um, product team, hearing those stories, we just feel like that's a, a much better way to get retained, like for people to retain what they heard and understand.

And then they can go dig into the numbers to get 10 examples of that. But the stories are just so much more powerful. Cause it's just like, as humans, that's like, that's how we communi.

[00:24:22] Andrew Michael: Absolutely. I think that's one. I also had the motivations, uh, behind the company that I'm building at the moment a and, uh, big part of our product is actually allowing you to connect like user stories and feedback with data and analytics. And, um, one of the things we always like try to show, uh, is how you can actually combine.

Data with user feedback and really like tell a much more powerful narrative and something. We learned a lot at Hotjar as well, like combining the what's and the why, like, uh, used to talk about this a lot. David used to talk about a lot is that data will only tell you, like what's happening in your product.

Your customers are telling you why. And if you, when you combine those two things [00:25:00] together, that's like when you really have meaningful understanding of what's happening and how you can go about approaching, uh, fixes to problems that you might have within the org. Yeah, we don't 

[00:25:09] Tray Hoffman: allow anyone to use the word product feedback here.

Um, we use the word challenge, and so we think this is a really powerful difference. Um, we want everyone to log. If, if we get feedback from a customer that says I was out in the desert and I couldn't use your tool. That's not product feedback, right? That's a challenge that they were against, but we can take that and we can go do solutioning and say we should make more offline functionality.

So like a lot of times I think our team is just so quick to say, like, I want tell you, we need this extra column on this report or this thing it's like, but don't give us product feedback. Like tell us the challenge the customer was facing. And then you can use tools like product board, et cetera, to take those longer stories and those more challenges and solution into three or four different pieces of insight.

Whereas sometimes if we start solutioning too early, we actually lose, lose the problem. 

[00:25:58] Andrew Michael: Mm. I like that. [00:26:00] Uh, and so you specifically sort of take out any suggestions as well that, uh, people might mention just really focus on what the problem is that they were having at that time. Is that sort of the idea behind it?

[00:26:11] Tray Hoffman: Yeah. So in our CRM and Salesforce, we actually allow the, the, anybody to take a challenge, the support team, the success team, cetera, and then that logs it against the account. And then of course, we push that over to product board and then we wire those two things up. So anytime you pull up an account, you can actually see all their product feedback, you know, where they've struggled in the past.

And that's also. Yeah, those, those challenges, it's a custom object called challenge Salesforce that we build. And so, yeah, we, we believe pretty deeply in that. Yes, you do wanna go look at the cases and see the, about the case. So you can see all the different things that they called support. What parts of the product they called to support about the challenges live uniquely in a different space, because they're, again, just the stories of those stories.

[00:26:51] Andrew Michael: I like that as well. Very cool. Um, I wanna make sure as well, ask a couple of questions, ask every guest that joins the show. [00:27:00] Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario that you join a new, uh, company churn. Attention's not doing great at that company. And the CEO comes to you and says like, Hey Trey, we really need to turn things around.

We have 90 days, we wanna make a dent on, uh, churn attention and you're in charge. Um, the catches, you're not gonna tell me I'm gonna look at data or I'm gonna speak to customers and figure out what the problem is, and then run, uh, with that playbook. You're just going to take something from a playbook that you've seen be successful either in your current role now or the previous company.

And you're gonna run with that. Blindly hoping that it's, uh, reduces, uh, churn. What would you pick? All right. So I got 

[00:27:38] Tray Hoffman: three 

[00:27:39] Andrew Michael: months. Three months. Is that right? 

[00:27:41] Tray Hoffman: Yes. Okay. All right. So from kind of breaking this down, probably where I would go is I, I, I would probably think like start thinking cohorts and segments pretty quickly.

Um, so a month is 22 business days. So I'm thinking I got like 15 weeks, um, in our world, we're a SaaS company. So we have a lot of people trialing every day and we have new [00:28:00] customers signing up every day. So like each week I get a cohort. And, um, so then I have to probably think about my customers and I've got sort of onboarding customers, people who have paid me to be there, like renewing customers.

So I'm probably gonna pick a cohort of customer. I do have some selection bias. I think, you know, in, in, in the world where they've already chosen my product. So I would also be tempted to think about trialing customers, but I only have 90 days so probably not gonna start after trialing customers. Um, so each week I get a cohort, I guess, of people who are gonna renew or people who are onboarding.

And I think when we, we're a pretty big. Product led growth shop. And that's what we've spent a lot of time focused on in the past. So I think, you know, this like concept of perceived value versus like experienced value is really important. And that sort of gap when you put those on a Venn diagram. So I think I'm taking each, I'm taking a cohort every week of one of those customers.

I say, onboarding customers. And I'm, I'm trying to figure out where the perceived and the experienced value are. D. And then I'm [00:29:00] going into problem discovery. And I'm trying to figure out where the, what problems did I not? Like, what did they think? What did the marketing say was gonna happen? What did the sales team say was gonna happen?

That didn't happen? Why did they not? That value. And then if I've got buy-in from the executive team, I'm trying to generate solution discovery and like trying to figure out some solutions to start to deliver more value each week. And then if each week I get 15 weeks, uh, if each week, maybe every two weeks, we can like maybe release something to try to get more value to the cohort, maybe renewing customers or onboarding customers.

Over 15 weeks. If I can ship every two weeks, I get like maybe seven at bats. Like if I can have success, like four of those seven at bat. Um, I delivered more value. Yeah. Delivered more value. So I think, I think, I think I would think about cohorts and then again, into segmenting, I think we talked about segmenting good bit earlier, but it's just like, even in those cohorts, I'm probably gonna segment there's certain [00:30:00] customers I'm gonna care less about.

So it really it's what customers, I care the most about who, who should be my ICP and, and my delivering, like what's my value gap. That's what I would. 

[00:30:10] Andrew Michael: Nice. Um, you're also not, uh, afraid to do public math is also applaud you with that. Um, the, the thing as well, that just to sum it up a little bit, I think what you're saying and coming from wrong is that you would want to.

In the 90 days, you're gonna break that up into individual weeks. You're going to follow those cohorts that sign up during those weeks, or it meant to be renewing during those weeks, trying to understand where that, that promise like gap is like what marketing potentially promise and what they perceive value as what they're actually received and focus on trying to.

Like bridge that gap, essentially, trying to make sure, like, if somebody's just signed up, how can we onboard them to get to that perceived value to that value that they, uh, perceived from marketing material and you'd wanna try and do like an experiment every couple of weeks, trying to introduce something, trying to get them closer to that.

[00:31:00] Um, did I get that right? Yeah. 

[00:31:02] Tray Hoffman: Yeah. In a world where we have a SaaS program and everybody has the same product. We only have one version of legal everybody's on the same version. So if I'm trying to keep the backend, the trail, like turn is a trailing indicator, but what I can, if, if I can deliver value to the new people, I'm delivering value to everybody.

Cause there's only one version of the platform. So if I can find a way to get more value, um, and I can figure out a way to measure that, then I am. Trying that's, that's my technique, I guess, to combat and churn as well. Right. 

[00:31:32] Andrew Michael: Nice. What's one thing, you know, today that you wish you knew when you got started with your career about general attention?

[00:31:42] Tray Hoffman: Uh, that's a good one. I think, you know, when I think about my team, like the hardest, like we can train a lot of things, but like probably one of the hardest skills is like business acumen. I think that's what you're asking is like what, what business acumen have you. Retained or, or, or gained. And, um, I guess even when we think about turning retention, it's gonna probably always come back to focus.[00:32:00] 

Uh, and when you have the, as large as ours or company, any company really has this problem, like where are you? And the specific to like, I guess turn retention. It's like, Probably problematic could say it, but like not all turn is bad. Like there's some churn that's. Okay. And I think like earlier trade, like earlier in my career, I would be more bull in, in China shop.

I would say, I want attack every turn. I'm taking everything so personal that anytime, even when you're a small company, when we were a small company, every single person who stopped paying us, like we kind of took it personal. Um, but even now, as I, as I reflect back, it's like, Focus is more important and don't take it so personal.

Understand your segments, look at your ICP and make sure you never lose the passion on the most important customers. Um, and don't maybe like take it so personal and everybody turns, but do double [00:33:00] down when somebody that you think is. Right up your fairway, that's in your ICP double down and go even harder to try to figure out why they left.


[00:33:08] Andrew Michael: They left. Yeah. Like focus. It's one of those difficult things as well. For a lot of like earlier stage founders. Well, trying to figure out, okay, the time is so big. Like where do we wanna spend our time and energy? Like, how do we know are making the right bets? But I think if you don't make that bet and you don't end up focusing.

On a specific niche or a specific segment that you think you can serve extremely well. You end up serving everybody like mediocre and nobody wins at the end of the day. So I definitely like a hundred percent echo that focus is key in really trying to tackle and make a D and actually like an overall product strategy.

Just building a much better product for the audience that you're trying to. Um, there's, there'll be time, uh, later down the line to expand into different segments, into different focus areas. 

[00:33:55] Tray Hoffman: Yeah. You would never get to the point where you'd consider firing a customer in your early days, right? Every [00:34:00] customer value, every dollar is valuable in your early days, but as you get larger and you can gain focus, you'll actually get to the point where it makes sense to start, um, you know, firing customers because they distract you from your core mission.


[00:34:15] Andrew Michael: And this is something I've heard a few times on the show, as well as like the concept of firing customers, but it makes so much sense as well when. If you're onboarding like bad fit customers, all that ends up happening is they end up using more of the company's resources. The necessary your support gets clogged up.

Your customer success. Does, uh, sales spends more time trying to close these deals? So you end up wasting a whole lot more time of the company's efforts when they could be better spent like serving the customer who is the ideal fit for the product or service. And, but like you said, in early days, like you get whatever you take.

You need the, the ticks that are gonna put the fuel in the fire to get the fire going. But then when, when it's going, you can, you sort of slowly start to have that luxury to take a step back now and say, okay, where should we be focusing? Uh, who do we need to get rid of? [00:35:00] 

[00:35:00] Tray Hoffman: Absolutely focus is important, even when you're trying to find product market and then it's even more important after you found it.

Yeah. Yeah. So I guess if I had to go back and talk to earlier career Trey, I would say. Uh, focus on the most important segments. 

[00:35:17] Andrew Michael: Nice. Cool. So I see we've run up on time tray. Is there any final thoughts that you wanna leave the listeners with? Like anything they should be aware of or keep up to speed with the work that you do?

[00:35:28] Tray Hoffman: Yeah, you can definitely, um, find me on, on LinkedIn. I'm just Trey Hoffman. Um, LinkedIn slash Trey Hoffman, T R Y HFF a or T Hoffman do com so feel free to reach out if I'm to I'm sorry. Um, I guess the, um, the one thing I would say, Andrew, that, um, I keep coming back to as my career is getting a little bit longer in the tooth.

Is that. We all build technology and we're, we're really proud of the technology. But after having been here a couple decades, I, [00:36:00] we build the same technology over and over and over again, like you always are constantly refining and iterate. And the things that you're really proud of 10 years ago are so obsolete at this point.

I guess when I, when I think back, what I would tell people is don't, uh, undersell the actual people you build. That in your career, the people that help you learn and help build you and the people that you help, um, in their career. Those are the things that you'll remember 10 years, 20 years later. Um, so although we all do in the moment, spend so much time concerned with the technology that we're building, uh, don't lose sight of the fact that as you're building your companies, that you're building the people and those relationships will last way longer than the, the bits that you ship.

[00:36:43] Andrew Michael: I love that note and well, Trey, thanks so much. It's been a pleasure hosting you today, and I wish you best of luck now going forward. 

[00:36:51] Tray Hoffman: Thanks Andrew man. Uh, enjoy the podcast and I'll, I'll be listening in and can't wait to hear your next 

[00:36:55] Andrew Michael: one. Awesome. Thanks Trey. Have a great day.


Trey Hoffman
Trey Hoffman

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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