Author: Stuart Huke, Business Director at DBS Data
Having been a direct marketeer for over 16 years I can’t wait to embark on my next career challenge with DBS Data in utilising the power of intelligent data. But for the last six months, whilst attending to my now pristine garden, one of the benefits my time out has afforded me has been the opportunity to be a full-time consumer once more. And whilst I can see greater evidence that businesses are making strides in using data intelligently, in an attempt to provide consumers with a more personalised experience, it still appears that many organisations are making the same mistakes. Mistakes around not using data intelligently and thinking about consumers as humans.
Now you may feel that this is a bit of an odd statement with many businesses clearly spending millions of pounds on data analytics, data science and data insight. However, there still seems to be a real dearth of marketeers and business owners that think about the consumer first and then structure campaigns or even more importantly, their business, around the real needs of the consumer.
Well what do I mean by that? Here are a few experiences I have had where I feel the human touch has been lost. The names have been changed to protect their performance.
The First Atlantic – This brand stands for innovation, customer first approach, creating a brand you want to be associated with. Yet when I was due to fly to New York the day after the ‘Beast from the East’, to my amazement, they decided to cancel my flight at the last minute and that the best way to communicate this was via a solitary email at 1.58am! Our flight was due to fly five hours later. No call, no SMS, no details, no explanation – just a suggestion to call their switchboard, which, of course, was impossible to get through too. Eventually after using our initiative we got changed to another flight at the airport and the staff were very helpful. Which just goes to show how human interaction can rescue what could have been a very damaging brand situation. Defaulting to electronic communication has it’s time and place but this was not it.
Advantage Insurance – I often find that Insurance companies are some of the worst at treating you as a human. At the beginning they are very helpful when you want to take out insurance for the first time – calls, email, text. But when you are coming up to renewal it’s often just a single renewal letter, usually with a higher premium and no explanation. You are just a number, another customer and retention appears not as important as acquisition. So what do you do, switch back to the brand that you left 12 months ago! What lessons do they learn? Surely large financial companies must see the patterns in their data? Perhaps it would make more sense to call a customer at renewal time, to be proactive in discussing what can be done with the price, because for us consumers comparing the market is so easy? Where is the human touch point? Result, they lost my business.
TopStore – Fashion retailors spend a fortune on Brand building through TV, digital marketing, glossy adds and innovative websites with easy to navigate purchase options with all the bells and whistles. Yet, if you choose to buy something online and opt to pick up in store you invariably have to deal with the store-based sales staff. When it comes to store collections they seem to have no clue what they are doing, are invariably rude, unable to operate their sales systems (which are seemingly not linked to their online system), then they can’t find the item you ordered, even though you have been sent an email to say its arrived!! The result is being asked to come back another day, sending you off feeling like your money is not good enough. That brand has just ruined your buying experience after they have spent a fortune on marketing to get you online and in store but have neglected to remember that the brand does not just reside in a digital landscape, it must continue in store and treat the customer as a human not a digital footprint.
These are just three recent examples, but I have experienced so many brands that have not thought about the consumer experience at every stage of the journey, or if they have, they have not ensured consistency across every touchpoint. Today there really is no excuse to get the customer journey wrong. Every business has access to data to help them make informed, logical decisions. Marketeers should know better than to neglect any aspect of the customer journey. And business owners should be demanding that brand values are consistent at every level of their business from the website, through to every consumer touchpoint.
And this doesn’t just apply to B2C, the B2B sector also needs to apply a human approach. In business sales, it is still a human that you are interacting with. A person who has likes and dislikes and ultimately is more likely to interact with you if you make the effort to create a more personalised experience. And we all know, you don’t get the best deals unless you treat everyone the way you would like to be treated and that means being clever with the data you have about the human being.
At DBS we are able to meet any business challenge around data – from insight, segmentation and data validation to multi-channel targeting and attribution. But the one thing we always do is help businesses understand that to really succeed, you must take a step back and re-evaluate how you are going to deliver your customers a truly bespoke, personalised and targeted experience. And to do that you must take a human first approach.
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