Know Thy Customer
Decrease costs and increase sales by targeting the right audience.
For the rest of the April 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
Analytics is all the rage in corporate America these days. All I can say is, it's about time. Organizations have been collecting and hoarding rafts of customer information for years, rarely using it wisely. Take the case of Max, my diabetic cat. Max, who unfortunately has passed, needed two insulin shots per day. While I could purchase the insulin freely, I needed a prescription for the syringes. The name on the prescription was Max the Cat Conlon. Imagine my surprise then, the first time Max received a direct mail piece from Becton Dickinson and Company, which manufactures the syringes. It was a flyer on how to travel with diabetes. It was a thoughtful gesture on the part of Becton Dickinson, a solid attempt at creating brand loyalty. But the effort was wasted on Max, as he hadn't any plans to jet off on holiday any time soon--or at all, for that matter. Max periodically would receive these flyers, offering tips on living with diabetes. I would always chuckle to myself when they arrived in the mail. But I would also wonder if Becton Dickinson would ever catch on. Surely a company of that size must have some software that ferrets out the hot prospects from those that are, well, ice cold. Alas, I'll never know. What I do know, however, is that there are myriad new and emerging technologies that are decreasing the likelihood that another person's diabetic pet will be the recipient of "targeted" marketing. Companies such as Data Distilleries, eConvergent, Informatica, and many others offer applications that gather and analyze customer information in real time, affording companies the opportunity for true targeting, cross-selling, and upselling. The buzz around analytics suggests that companies are anxious to embrace these solutions. And none too soon. The longer companies wait, the more money they may be wasting on misguided marketing. Shortly after Claudia, my four-year-old daughter, and I signed up for United Airlines' Mileage Plus frequent flier program, we both began receiving direct mail pieces on discount travel packages, car rental offers, etc. What surprised me about this is, while Becton Dickinson may not have had a way to surmise that Max was a cat, United must certainly know that Claudia is four. After 25,000 frequent flier miles worth of international travel, her age should be on record somewhere. I wonder how may other children are receiving costly direct mail pieces from United and other companies? Think of the long-term savings for United if the airline had waited at least until Claudia could read well enough to use the materials to help influence our travel decisions. Or if, instead, United sent her age-appropriate materials, like a picture of the beach to color, that she could then show off, asking, "Mommy, when can we visit here?" Now is the time for companies to embrace analytics--to realize the cost savings afforded by truly targeting their marketing efforts, and to realize the sales opportunities that present themselves when sales and service representatives are armed with up-to-date, real-time, targeted customer information. For me it won't be soon enough, and for companies like Becton Dickinson and United it's not too late.
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