Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How Companies Can Make Us Love Them

I rang a company recently with a query.
They needed to locate the information, but promised to call back within 10 minutes, then confirmed my phone number...which I had not given them: their phone system had shown them the incoming call number.
Now, this is very simple technology, but it made their approach feel more "personal". That company had just one shot at establishing a relationship with me, and it had to go smoothly...or I was likely to go elsewhere next time.
Most businesses are sitting on data goldmines, but very few use it to improve customer service. That's what makes personal information so vital, and why more companies should actively use it. The data has been gathered automatically or via form-filling, and allows businesses to have more "human" relationships with customers.
Many consumers are unaware of just how much personal information is being gathered through daily transactions. When you shop at the supermarket, you swipe your loyalty card to gain discounts. The card also notes your product preferences so that, when their emailed weekly specials list arrives, your version has selections that're more specifically targeted to you. It's not creepy - it's canny business. If your favourite brands are discounted or uppermost on the email, you're more likely to return to that supermarket sooner.
There's a quiet race going on among brands to form "relationships" that build customer loyalty in the face of increasing competition. Using personal data smartly is the surest way. Smart data use assists businesses to treat customers as individuals, and it does so without extra expense. The data is constantly being gathered: it's just a case of using it correctly.
Imagine the benefits if companies get it right. For example, I'm very tall, so it's vital I get an emergency exit row seat on a plane - y'know, the ones with more leg room. I request this every time I check in: a smart airline would store that information in their system, and be able to offer it without me even asking.
I believe as long as consumers are aware of the data that's being gathered about their lives, and are happy with that, then they'll be quite comfortable with its use, and in the future will come to expect it. It may prove to be the deciding factor in a company's success.

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