Knowing your customer will give you the edge

By Paul Grant

User research informs education website

Customer relationship management (CRM) has seen great advances in recent years, as have the technologies and measurement tools that make it all an essential component of a marketing strategy.

We are living in an age of ‘data’. Not only do we each individually have access to limitless sources of information on the Internet, but our favourite brands or business affiliates are also storing information on our behavioural patterns.

It is not such a bad thing, when your interaction is ‘tracked’

Before jumping to any sinister ‘Big Brother’ conspiracy theories, it is worth mentioning that often times the information that companies store about us can be very useful.

For example, many of us will have experienced the Amazon online shopping experience. Once Amazon knows something of your interests, it will suggest related products that may also be interesting based on your previous selections or purchases. Of course, there are times when you are buying a gift for someone else, and then find that you subsequently get recommendations for products that were never actually of interest to you personally, but to your friend. It didn’t take too long for Amazon to respond to customer feedback and provide the ability for customer to remove the ‘influence’ of that gift or one-time purchase from any future recommendations.

Sometimes CRM can provide very timely and useful information that enhances your experience of the brand and gives you the confidence that the company is professional, organised, and more importantly interested in knowing us all as unique individuals. Generally not many of us want to feel as if we are merely a ‘consumer’, that is nothing more than a number in a database.

Enjoyable holiday planning with timely email marketing

Thompson Fly use an excellent dynamic and customised email marketing tool which is interfaced with the company’s frontline CRM system. From the moment you make an enquiry, Thompson Fly wants to learn about you. Are you a family, a couple, male or female, do you prefer the mountains, or the beach? Once you have booked a holiday, the automated CRM and email marketing tools send you relevant information at the precise time that you really need it. For example you may receive an email one week before your trip which invites you to pre-purchase parking tickets at your departure airport, along with maps of that airport so that you know where to go on the big day. One or two days prior to leaving you may also receive an email that gives you the weather forecast for the destination where you are heading. Sometime after the holiday you would never be sent promotions designed for a family if you have previously booked as a couple. Likewise, if you are a family you will not be generally interested in a Honeymooner’s deal. A year down the track and you may receive a nice reminder email showing you a video of the location you went to the previous year and asking if you are planning a similar vacation this year. indeed this is truly useful, personalised, and dynamic email marketing.

What happens when it all goes wrong?

In recent times I was looking to purchase a new domain name for a website project. I carried out some preliminary searches to see what was available. At the time I noted a good name, but decided I would come back later to complete the purchase. Shortly after retrieving my wallet from another room I proceeded to complete the transaction.

Now imagine my disappointment and dismay when an hour later I received this personalised email message:

We noticed that you searched for aname.com, but didn’t register it. It may still be available. As a special offer just for you, aname.com is just $xx.xx a year. Sign up with Invitation Code: MYNAME4.

Whilst the promotion was a fantastic idea and a genuine response to my customer need, the problem was that I had already purchased the name for the full ticket value (nearly twice as much). Naturally this created a sour feeling when this massively discounted offer came through after the event.

This kind of failure in a CRM strategy leads to disgruntled customers and negative word-of-mouth. If you are planning a customer relationship strategy to increase satisfaction among your customers, ensure that there are no opportunities to disappoint them along the way.


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Meet the Author

Paul Grant