“The reaction you get to a tool is usually a result of that workplace context.”Dr. Sam Ladner, Author of Practical Ethnography and Mixed Methods

Solving Product – Statflo Contextual Inquiries

Statflo’s co-founders, John Chapman and brothers Kevin and Ian Gervais, first began spending a lot of time in wireless stores when a contact of theirs informed them that stores were barely using the customer data they were collecting.

Some stores had interns turning the data into spreadsheets, printing it, highlighting information they thought was important, but overall, stores were getting little value from the abundant data at their disposal.

To make it available, the partners cleaned the data and created an online report. To Ian, this was just one of the quick apps he’d always built. He never thought this would become a business.

With the first report, store owners could see which customers were up for renewal on their cell phone contracts. Soon, the co-founders realized that the same data could be used to flag customers at risk of cancelling.

To help, the partners decided to create a second report. Once that report was ready for consumption, they were stunned by the reaction.

Not only were owners printing the report designed for online consumption, they were cutting it into tiny strips.

Hoping to understand what was going on, the partners started digging into the behavior. It turned out that owners were handing the contact details to sales reps, asking them to focus on retaining the specific accounts.

They loved the report and were getting a lot of value from the reach-outs. Because of it, reps were no longer idle, waiting for customers to come in.

It was clear that there was a better way to do this, and that this was an important Customer Job that Statflo could address.

How Statflo Turned Insights Into a Growing Product

In 2014, the team launched Smart Lists, a product designed to automatically point out and assign customers at risk of churning to sales reps.

The product was a hit. But, since the beginning, the pilot had been free and only a few stores were using it. It wasn’t clear if it would scale.

To find out, the partners added ten stores to the pilot. Although the wireless industry is highly competitive, the response surprised them. Not only did the new stores enjoy the product, they began talking about it with other owners.

Soon, stores across Canada and in the United States were reaching out, asking to join the pilot. When Ian and the team began visiting those stores to understand if the patterns were the same, they soon realized that the product could consistently address the same need.

The co-founders knew that they had found a great business opportunity when Statflo began charging customers—and those customers were willing to pay.

Statflo was no longer just one of the quick apps that Ian had always built. It was a growing business.

By spending a lot of time in stores, observing behaviors through contextual inquiries, and being open to surprises, the partners found an opportunity for a breakout success.

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This post in an excerpt from Solving Product. If you enjoyed the content, you'll love the new book. You can download the first 3 chapters here →.

Categories: Case Study