Respect Your Customers, Use Your Data

A recent CIO Magazine article entitled, “Is Data the Currency of the Future?” says it all. With day-to-day social interactions, product purchases, and entertainment now occurring on digital platforms and devices, data is simply part of being human. The insight from this data holds inherent value, yet many organizations haven’t quite cracked the code on how to extract it.

Media, Entertainment, and Communications (MEC) companies have, with customer permission, a treasure trove of data that can be used to tailor the messaging that drives revenue, satisfaction, and loyalty. Data enables the experiences that every consumer craves: brand interactions that are personalized, relevant, and in some cases, predictive—the sorts of interactions that create the sense that the organization understands the consumer. If data is such a compelling asset—one that holds the potential to solidify true, experience-led differentiation—then why do these companies keep missing the mark?

Case in point, I recently purchased tickets to four separate concerts via an online ticket sales service. When I logged into my account after purchasing these tickets, it told me that “4 of your favorites have local events.”  Here’s the problem. I already had the tickets for all of these events. This space could have been used for countless messages, including reminding me about my events or even promoting similar events that may have been of interest to me.

Each week, the company, and its sister brand, also send me separate emails about upcoming events. Rather than sending me a new, relevant offer that might motivate me to purchase a new ticket, I receive an email with 12-15 recommendations, four of which I’ve already purchased tickets. These are the sorts of experiences that make me question whether the organization cares about the experiences they provide. If data is a currency, this company is, in the simplest terms, throwing away money.

This experience is just the start. Last year, a telecom company purchased a satellite television provider. Following the acquisition, I received a sixteen-page booklet stating that “it is a difficult decision to find a video provider who understands your needs and can take you through a journey of switching providers.”  The only problem: I was already a customer. In fact, I had been a loyal customer of the legacy satellite TV service for over 15 years. Does this mean I should switch from my existing product?  Would a product switch in this case even make sense? In fact, I was simply confused as to which product they were promoting as their premium video platform – the legacy product, or the one they just purchased.

Here's the issue: this telecom organization had data on the customers that overlapped with the newly acquired TV provider. They could have easily used that data to ensure that these customers were excluded from receiving this marketing material. Instead, as a customer, I’m left with the uneasy feeling that the company conducts mass marketing without any desire to understand their customers, personalize its messages or deliver relevant products or services.

Where do we go from here? It is through these missed opportunities that highlight the potential that data, and supporting analytical capabilities, hold. It presents a tremendous and unprecedented opportunity for organizations to build a connection to the customer. It’s a chance to show that they care. Caring can be defined as:

  • Creating a better product by integrating insights of the customers usage behaviors
  • Knowing what products and services your customers have, so that you do not contradict offers or provide offers for which customers are not eligible
  • Using customer insights to better predict issues and solve technical problems
  • Knowing when to sell to a customer, and when to just listen

This naturally lends itself to the next question: how do organizations become better stewards of customer data? Here are a few key considerations:

  • Remember: it is your customer’s data, not yours. Organizations are not entitled to data; rather, think of data as a financial asset that must be earned. Embracing this perspective will help companies shift to a mindset of respect and strategic prudence when it comes to using data to enable higher-value customer interactions.
  • Validate your target lists. Prior to distributing communications, check your lists, check twice, then check them again against eligibility, and correct information. Doing so will ensure that your communications hit the right mark with consumers.
  • Go the extra mile to personalize your message. Mass advertising, display, and promotions are hurting the bottom line by devaluing customer trust. Too often, companies view digital messaging as cheap and a pure numbers game.
  • Think like a customer. The final check should be, “if I were to receive this message from my competitor, would it entice me to act in the manner you are expecting?”

Data—and the insight it provides—is ripe for the taking. As consumers, we’ve volunteered our data for the benefit of the customer, inviting organizations to deliver the tailored experiences that not only make us feel valued and cared for, but that drive us to become purchasers, repeat purchasers, and advocates. As experience becomes increasingly key to differentiation, it’s never been more important for organizations to collect, manage, and use data like the currency that it is.