I am not talking here about truly bad teaching, the kind that fails to engage learners and also fails to produce improvements. I’m talking about teaching that sounds good, looks good, feels good — but does not create changes in knowledge or behavior. Pseudo-teaching is the heroic, lecture-driven, charismatic, rah-rah kind of training, that sadly fails to connect with individual learners’ needs and requirements, avoids questions from the learners, does not challenge the learners to change, and as a consequence fails to produce improvements, just like bad teaching. It’s fun, but it does not work.

When I read this blog post about pseudo-teaching, I felt the author expressed just what I feel about what good teaching should be:

  • just-in-time
  • attuned to the needs to the learners
  • a conversation with the learners, not a one-way lecture
  • oriented towards the details of good performance
  • task-based and results-oriented, not a showcase of the instructor/teacher/coach

The goal of good teaching is to help learners change. We all love a showy instructor, but the goal remains to encourage behavior change. That’s the philosophy behind the FT Works workshops, where no pseudo-teaching is allowed.

(Incidentally, we are booking into February, so if you want to experience real teaching and real behavior change, talk to us today.)

Collective Time Management

The June 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review includes an interesting article about collective time management that contrasts approaches that different teams are using to

  • allow more flexible schedules
  • prevent turnover due to excessive work hours
  • manage interruptions

The approaches range from structured time off to predefined no-interruption and no-meeting times. One example cited is truly pitiful, the ability to unplug completely one night a week, but others are significant, allowing team members to designate half-days off during normal work hours. Interestingly, all the initiatives reported in the article were successful in boosting productivity and job satisfaction. The moral of the story is that each team is different and should select the program that fits its unique needs.

My (very small) team fully subscribes to the set-your-own-schedule approach. What are you doing for collective time management?

The FT Word – October 2014

The FT Word

The FT Word is a free monthly newsletter with support management tips. To subscribe, click here. The subscription list is absolutely confidential; we never sell, rent, or give information about our subscribers.


to the September 2014 edition of the FT Word. Topics for this month:

  • 30 reasons why customers churn — hence thirty ways to kickstart your big data analysis
  • Managing the Invisibles.  Employees who shun the limelight abound in support organizations; learn to manage them
  • A new e-book! Smarter Customer Success – from strategy to implementation
  • And a quote about big data: There are a lot of small data problems that occur in big data. They don’t disappear because you’ve got lots of the stuff. They get worse.” David Spiegelhalter

FT Works in the News

A new e-book: Smarter Customer Success – From Strategy to Implementation 

Following on the heels of Smarter Customer Success Hiring, debuted last month, I am happy to announce the upcoming release of the Smarter Customer Success e-book, a step-by-step guide to defining a Customer Success strategy and implementing a Customer Success program, and an organization to run the program. You can preorder the e-book here and it will arrive in your mailbox by the middle of the month.

Curious about something? Send me your suggestions for topics — or add one in the comments — and your name will appear in future newsletters.

Françoise Tourniaire
FT Works
650 559 9826

About FT Works

FT Works helps technology companies create and improve their support operations. Areas of expertise include designing support offerings, creating hiring plans to recruit the right people quickly, training support staff to deliver effective support, defining and implementing support processes, selecting support tools, designing effective metrics, and support center audits. See more details at

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30 reasons why customers churn

Wouldn’t it be nice to anticipate which customers are likely to churn so you can (1) forecast renewals more accurately (2) lavish appropriate retention techniques on at-risk customers so you can (3) minimize churn? This post is shaped like a laundry list, a long list of clues that your customers may not be renewing. Use it to analyze your data and identify the factors that really make a difference for your customers.

Note that I make no attempt to identify independent variables. This is a compilation of interesting factors to help you identify which ones you are currently tracking and which ones you may want to start tracking.

1. No one signed up. Yes, someone bought the product or service, but no more than a handful of users have shown up. Easy to measure automatically and unobtrusively for SaaS solutions, harder for on-premise solutions, I feel your pain.

2. They signed up, but they are not active. So you got that first small step in the direction of adoption, but nothing happened beyond that. Perhaps the new users were signed up “automatically” and are not even aware that they can use the product/service.

3. They are are not accomplishing much with the product or service. The product should yield marketing campaigns but none went out, track cases that are not logged, or process transitions that are not happening. Users are “playing around” but not accomplishing anything.

4. The users are all business analysts, but the end-users are nowhere to be seen. Usage is not reaching to the masses, endangering your license count — and is a sign that adoption is flagging.

5. The users are all end-users, the business analysts are not adopting the product. The reverse of #4: the little people are adopting, but if you don’t get the power users, it may be a struggle to keep the customer.

6. Some countries are not using the tool at all. It could be a knee-jerk reaction to orders from headquarters, but if a customer has a worldwide presence you want to see worldwide adoption.

7. They are not using a particular, sticky feature. They may be using the product overall, but they are using features that are not differentiated compared to your competitors, so they could be tempted to switch.

8. They have not made any meaningful customization of the product. We have all seen over-customization nightmares, but a customer who has made no customizations at all may not be very committed, right?

9. They did not get trained. Whether they paid for training or not, trained customers are making an investment of their time and are more likely to use the product or service, and use it correctly, to boot.

10. The people who are actually using the product or service did not get trained. An investment was made but it was not directed properly. Could be related to #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 above.

11. They did not use your implementation services. Some customers think they can DYI, but not everyone can (or is trained properly, see # 9 and 10).

12. They did not use a certified partner to implement. Perhaps you rely on partners for implementation. If the partner certification program is meaningful, using a certified partner should make a difference in adoption and long-term success.

13. They log a lot of support cases. Be sure to benchmark this one against (1) the size of the customer and (2) its phase in the lifecycle, since pre-production or early-production customers tend to need much more help.

14. They log almost no support cases. Hearing crickets? No news may mean that nothing can go wrong, since nothing is getting done. Cross-reference with #3.

15. They have encountered a lot of bugs. That should be easy to see from the support-trakcing system.

16. They encountered some critical bugs. One critical bug can ruin the whole relationship…

17. Their cases too a long time to resolve. Especially if combined with bug issues, as in #15 & 16.

18. They logged lots of enhancement requests. This one could go both way, since enthusiastic users do have lots of ideas for the product, but lots of requests also suggest that the product is not meeting the needs of the customer.

18. They logged several enhancement requests that did not get implemented. If so, not only is the product not meeting current needs, it may not meet future needs either!

19. They don’t participate in the online community. Serious users do.

20. They are making snarky comments in the online community. They care enough to participate, but they are speeding bad vibes. Common when mixed with # 15 & 16.

21. They did not attend the Users’ Conference. See #19.

22. They threw a fit at renewal time last year. It could be that last year (last quarter, last month) had special, one-time circumstances but a customer who had a rough renewal in the past is more likely to have another.

23. They are not returning calls from the sales rep. Maybe they hate his/her guts (bad) but maybe they are flirting with the competitor’s rep (very bad).

24. They are not returning calls from the renewals rep. A variation of #22, with shades of #21.

25. They are not returning calls from the Customer Success Manager (CSM). This is more dire than #23 & 24, since CSMs aren’t selling anything.

26. They are on credit hold. Cut them off, what are you thinking?

27. They went bankrupt. Enough said.

28. They were bought out. Acquisitions can be a wonderful revenue expansion opportunity. Or not.

29. A key executive changed. S/he may bring the system s/he had been using at the old firm to the new firm, even if all the other indicators are positive.

30. They bought at the end of the quarter. Customers who buy at the end of the quarter may be receiving strong incentives from sales reps eager to make quota. Several of my clients have reported that their dedication to the product is significantly less than that of less pressured buyers.

Are you using these or other clues to predict renewal dangers? Do tell!