Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Is that an interesting question?

In a comment on “Why Customers Don’t Flee,” Chris adds “too much work.” I’ll add “too hard to evaluate alternatives.” But before we go much further, I’ll ask, is this the right question? Given that few customers leave after most breaches, is it useful to ask why they’re not leaving, or are there other questions which should occupy our attention?

Pro-interesting question: People are concerned. Measuring the cause of variation will help them get control of the situation, and thus their fears.

Anti-interesting question: there’s only so many hours in the day.

Your thoughts?

3 comments on "Is that an interesting question?"

  • Roger says:

    Can you elaborate on what “Measuring the cause of variation will help them get control of the situation” means? Thanks.

  • Iang says:

    The essential answer to the question is regulation and competition. In a regulated / difficult market, the incumbents raise barriers to entry. They then cartelise. One common trick is to raise barriers to switching. As long as all agree on the same barriers, it works for all.
    E.g., back in the 1990s, British banks refused to allow customers to bank at more than one bank. Gaining bank insisted on getting a special form from the losing bank, and when asked by customers, tried very hard to not give the special form.
    In a free market, one where there are no barriers to entry, this won’t work, as a competitor waits until you have raised so many barriers that you are harming your customers and can’t move. Then, he moves in and offers a freer (more open) service.
    Commonly, banks will agree with the regulator on creating barriers to switching. These will always be dressed up in the favourite issues of the time. Depending on the regulator and country, regulators generally have trouble keeping up, as budgets and salaries are low, and they can always be bought.

  • Adam says:

    I mean that as long as customer churn is variable, then people might want to be able to measure it and control it. If we know what the variation comes from, we can take actions. If we don’t, we’re flailing.

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