Storytelling from the Numbers

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Numbers by themselves don’t mean too much. But if you put them in the proper context, they give meaning. I was comparing the performances for two wireless companies. Both provided three pieces of information.

The first one the average monthly billing per user. Both were at around $67. There is a 50-cent gap.

The second piece of information is the number of net subscriber addition. Company A added 87,000 new customers, and Company B, 122,000. Looks like Company B is ahead of Company A.

The third piece of information is the subscriber churn rate, which is the percentage of subscribers who left the company. Company A is at 0.8% and Company B is at 1.1%.

Looking at the absolute numbers, it is difficult to assess which company has done a better job. Let’s look at the results in relative terms.

Both companies managed to increase the monthly billing by 0.6%, a tie. When you look at the net subscriber addition, Company A has grown 3.5% vs 2.7% for Company B. Looks like Company A is doing better. But with a churn rate of 1.1%, it puts Company B is a less favourable situation even though it signed on more new subscribers. But when you compare the results quarter over quarter, I would say Company A is doing better.

In evaluating results, you need to combine the intelligence from the numbers and look at the complete story. Avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly.

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