Customer data isn’t just a numbers game
The best is what we all aspire to be both personally and professionally, and our language is littered with the word – best man, best friend, best buy, best in show, even best before – as a culture we covet that title of excellence and best in class. And best brands know they have to look after their best customers.
But what makes a best customer is a debate that continues to rage on …
Is it those customers who spend a lot with you, who use your service frequently, who actively collect your loyalty programme points, who regularly post comments on Facebook and “like” you?
Does the brand and customer view of what makes best match? Probably not.
I recently took a short break with my other half, minus our daughter, something we (and our daughter) cherish. Now, we don’t do this all the time, probably just a couple of times a year for the last few years.
We used an online travel company, which we’ve used many times before at traditionally non-family times of year, always just the two of us. Without exception, these mini breaks have been unique experiences and first class service. All of which I have commented on, reviewed and recommended online. I have uploaded photographs, provided tips and generally spread the word about how great the holidays were.
Which brings me to a seemingly small but important point: I’m incredibly active online extolling the virtues of this company and how it caters so well to our needs, so why is it that their communication with me is so poor? Despite my reviews and comments, and the fact we sometimes holiday without our daughter, they continually bombard me only with value family holidays, nothing else.
This suggests a frightening disregard of our proven habits and feedback. By tagging us just as parents and ignoring large parts of our behaviour and motivations, we are not getting a best in class service.
So, do they see me as a best customer? Probably not if they are looking just at money spent, or at money spent as a parent. But have they quantified my online feedback and how do they measure and value it? Seemingly, not at all.
As Seth Godin once challenged: ‘What if you define best customer as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin?’
I’d love to know if anyone out there has seen a joined up example of this kind of best in action, I know I haven’t.
However, a couple of examples looking at best beyond the traditional definition do spring to mind.
MGM recently enhanced its loyalty programme Mlife, adding social and mobile elements. Partnering with Visa and Topguest to appeal to increasingly social and mobile users, members now get customised offers, specials and content based on their mobile and social activity, as well as their purchasing activity. In addition to the targeted, relevant offers, members are rewarded with credits for interacting with MGM across the social web. This really demonstrates an understanding of their market, and importantly, a willingness to value brand conversation as a best behaviour.
Accor hotels similarly adopted a highly targeted engagement strategy with its elite members’ club A Club Surprise. After actively monitoring members’ social conversations, they proactively presented them with tailored gifts during their hotel stay.
Brands really need to better appreciate that customer data isn’t just a numbers game, it’s also about interaction, transaction, engagement and conversation. It’s about synergising commercial and customer objectives. Linking back to your brand values is also a critical guide; if you promise engagement, listening, or being there, then you have no choice but to link those values back to how your identify and treat your best customers.
Isn’t it time we started to value “attention equity” more seriously?
Only a radical overhaul of how and why we value customers can help brands improve their engagement strategies. And, after all, don’t we all want to be the best we can be?
Jane Hodson is Managing Partner, M&C Saatchi MILK