Source | LinkedIn : By Kevin Chou
Soon after starting Kabam in 2009, we began displaying the company’s up-to-the-minute revenue figures on flat-screen monitors around the office. The practice is used by many tech startups to keep employees informed in a transparent culture, and I didn’t give it a second thought until a staff meeting in 2014. “You spend all this time at company meetings and business reviews talking about product quality and customer loyalty, but then I see only financial metrics on the walls,” said Aaron Loeb, who had joined us just a few weeks earlier. “Those things are not aligned.”
For a moment, I was surprised. We’re running a business here, and what better yardstick could there be for a growth company than good, old-fashioned revenue? But I soon realized that Aaron, who has since been promoted to our company President Live Services, was right. We were missing an opportunity to reinforce the real key to Kabam’s long-term success: our ability to create games that our customers would not only play and pay for today, but would love for years to come.
As a result, these monitors now broadcast how we’re doing on various measures of customer engagement and retention. One screen shows the number of daily customers who played in the last day and the differences with the prior day. Another one tracks customers that haven’t played at all in that time. Others display the average number of sessions customers play our games each day and their engagement cycles. And finally, we have monitors that show what’s happening in the various chat rooms to get a pulse on community hot topics.
The data is useful in its own right, but the not-so-subliminal message to employees is even more important. We want everyone at Kabam to focus more on what we can do to deepen our relationship with players, and less on what customers have recently paid us. Removing the revenue ticker is a signal that management doesn’t want everyone to get sidetracked every time there’s a sales hiccup.
Indeed, we have come to realize that our industry is very much like the TV business once a hit is born. Long-term success doesn’t come from stringing together flash-in-the-pan hits, but by carefully cultivating long-lived blockbusters like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, which generate huge and growing audiences – and thus business – year after year. Our top minds are now working on our next pass of getting even deeper into developing leading indicators of whether or not we’ll have a thriving player community in the future – predictors of engagement and retention as opposed to rearview mirror KPIs. Soon, these metrics will be the ones employees pass on their way to their desks.