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The Relevant Length of Customer Event History for Churn Prediction: How long is long enough?


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The key question of this study is: How long should the length of customer event history be for customer churn prediction? While most studies in predictive churn modeling aim to improve models by data augmentation or algorithm improvement, this study focuses on a another dimension: time window optimization with respect to predictive performance. This paper first presents a formalization of the time window selection strategy, along with a literature review. Next, using logistic regression, classification trees and bagging in combination with classification trees, this study analyzes the improvement in churn-model performance by extending customer event history from 1 to 16 years. The results show that, after the 5th additional year, predictive performance is only marginally increased, meaning that the company in this study can discard 69% of its data with almost no decrease in predictive performance. The practical implication is that analysts can substantially decrease datarelated burdens, such as data storage, preparation and analysis. This is particularly valuable in times of big data where computational complexity is paramount.

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Paper provided by Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in its series Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium with number 12/804.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:12/804

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Keywords: Predictive Analytics; Time window; Length of customer event history; predictive customer churn model;

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  1. Coussement, Kristof & Benoit, Dries Frederik & Van den Poel, Dirk, 2009. "Improved Marketing Decision Making in a Customer Churn Prediction Context Using Generalized Additive Models," Working Papers 2009/18, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  2. Van den Poel, Dirk & Buckinx, Wouter, 2005. "Predicting online-purchasing behaviour," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 166(2), pages 557-575, October.
  3. P. Baecke & D. Van Den Poel, 2010. "Improving purchasing behavior predictions by data augmentation with situational variables," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 10/658, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  4. Jia Hu & Ning Zhong, 2008. "Web Farming With Clickstream," International Journal of Information Technology & Decision Making (IJITDM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(02), pages 291-308.
  5. McCarty, John A. & Hastak, Manoj, 2007. "Segmentation approaches in data-mining: A comparison of RFM, CHAID, and logistic regression," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 656-662, June.
  6. Thomas J. Steenburgh & Andrew Ainslie & Peder Hans Engebretson, 2003. "Massively Categorical Variables: Revealing the Information in Zip Codes," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 40-57, August.
  7. K. W. De Bock & D. Van Den Poel, 2011. "An empirical evaluation of rotation-based ensemble classifiers for customer churn prediction," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 11/717, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  8. Athanassopoulos, Antreas D., 2000. "Customer Satisfaction Cues To Support Market Segmentation and Explain Switching Behavior," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 191-207, March.
  9. Baesens, Bart & Viaene, Stijn & Van den Poel, Dirk & Vanthienen, Jan & Dedene, Guido, 2002. "Bayesian neural network learning for repeat purchase modelling in direct marketing," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 191-211, April.
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Cited by:
  1. M. Ballings & D. Van Den Poel & E. Verhagen, 2013. "Evaluating the Added Value of Pictorial Data for Customer Churn Prediction," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 13/869, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.


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