I’m Giving You Good Information. Use It!
For months, I have been getting the same stupid robocall to my cell phone several times a week: It starts with a friendly recorded voice—calling itself either Rachel or Lisa—congratulating me for having such a great credit history, and then it offers to reward me by lowering my interest rate so I can pay down my massive credit card debt more quickly. All I have to do is give them my credit card number and they will take care of the rest.
These calls are more than just a nuisance. They are, of course, an illegal scam, but even worse, they violate every common-sense approach to customer data about which we’ve ever written.
For any marketing—legal or otherwise—to work, companies need to support their outreach with clean and up-to-date customer data, including contact information, preferences, buying habits, purchase histories, and a record of previous interactions.
Now, I realize it’s all-too-easy for us to sit in our ivory towers and extol the value of good data while lamenting the world where customer records are less than perfect. We’re not the ones in the trenches working with the data every day. As our feature story “Mastering Data Requires Attention to Detail” points out, proper data management is no easy feat. It requires a lot of time and effort and a sizable investment in personnel, technology, and processes. In some cases, entire company cultures might have to be re-engineered.
But in the end, the tremendous effort is usually worth it. Among the benefits, the article states that “lead scoring becomes more efficient as firms are better able to correctly identify potential customers. They identify high-value clients more easily and better manage cross-selling and upselling.”
Knowing which leads to call and which ones to avoid is valuable customer data. And given the current regulatory environment, the heightened emphasis on data privacy, and the legal mandates around customers’ rights to opt out of receiving marketing messages, there is even more of an incentive for companies to take such information seriously.
Ironically, in the case of my robocalling friends, I couldn’t make it any easier for them to gauge my interest in doing business with them. Every time I get one of their calls, I press one to transfer to a live agent. The all-too-eager agent (excited at the prospect of finding another identity theft victim) is sadly disappointed when I demand in no uncertain terms never to be contacted again.
You would think the robocallers would be happy to receive that information. After all, they can take me off their lists and move on to the next unsuspecting rube. But instead of thanking me, they either get really ticked off and start cursing into the phone or simply hang up. In the end, I know I’ll receive the exact same call a few days later, and my response will be identical. What a waste of “the company’s” time, money, and other resources.
I suppose I should be grateful that these robocallers haven’t yet caught on to another valuable technology highlighted in this month’s issue—messaging. As this month’s cover story, “Meet Customers with Messaging,” points out, companies that employ messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp are reaping huge rewards in employee productivity: With asynchronous messaging, agents can handle up to 10 conversations at a time, and chatbots can tap into stored company knowledge to provide the agent with just the right data to move the conversation along to a quick and fulfilling conclusion.
Here too, though, having good data is critical. For the chatbot—and ultimately, the agent—to be truly effective, both need to be able to tap into accurate, timely data.
Data quality is an imperative that we’ve emphasized over and over again, and, thankfully, many companies are now starting to take it seriously. And while my advice isn’t directed toward the robocallers who keep harassing me—lest I be accused of aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise—every other organization should think long and hard about its data and how it can better capitalize on it. It’s digital gold that can be invaluable across marketing, customer service, and sales.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.