It’s Time to Get Your Vision Checked
For the past three or four months, one unscrupulous email marketer has been flooding my personal inbox with spam—the same email message delivered 10 to 20 times a day, every day. The subject line always reads “Just for You!”
But this email is in no way just for me. I’m sure it gets zapped to tens of thousands of other irate consumers every hour or so. Nor do the products and services advertised apply to me at all. I live in a co-op, so I can’t just go installing solar panels at will. Obesity is not an issue for me, so I don’t need the latest miracle fat-burner made from the bark of some rare tree in Sumatra. And living in the Big Apple, I don’t really need a military-grade flashlight designed to blind a grizzly bear.
To make matters worse, the sender uses a spoofed email address (a hacked account to mask his real identity) and serves up an opt-out/unsubscribe link that goes nowhere. I’ve tried reaching out to some of the quasi-legitimate companies whose products are promoted, but so far most of them have been unresponsive, disinterested in putting a stop to the illegal practices that one of their marketing partners has undertaken. They are, no doubt, under the misguided perception that I, as a consumer, am not being terribly inconvenienced. If I don’t want the email, I can just delete it, right?
That might be fine if I wasn’t getting the emails so often, or if this form of email marketing didn’t violate at least a dozen laws and industry best practices. Now it’s just harassment, and I’m ready to call a lawyer.
Given my situation, it becomes clear that companies and consumers don’t always see eye to eye. That’s certainly nothing new; I’m not making any earth-shattering revelation here. What might surprise you, though, is just how far apart companies and their customers really are when it comes to their ideal interactions. This month’s cover story, “7 Myths of Customer Experience (and Why They’re Wrong),” by Associate Editor Oren Smilansky, exposes some of the biggest gaps between what customers want and what companies think they want. For example, 86 percent of customers said they are very likely to abandon a company after just one bad experience, a concern acknowledged by only 19 percent of contact center leaders. An additional 86 percent of customers expect a choice of channels for reaching out to companies, but slightly more than a third of contact center leaders saw this as important. Additionally, 53 percent of customers would prefer to use chat as their first contact with a company, a fact that only 11 percent of contact center leaders acknowledged.
There are, no, doubt, plenty of other false impressions that companies have today. Brian Solis addresses one in his Tipping Point column, “UX Can Make Your Business Disruption-Proof.” Solis makes the case that many companies today mistakenly assume that new generations of customers will continue to love them just as previous generations did. Companies clouded in that kind of nostalgia—that haven’t taken the time to update their user experiences for today’s customers—are “paving a dangerous path toward obsolescence,” he asserts.
Several other columns in this issue also address misconceptions that companies have about their customers. To overcome them, companies need to start looking at the world through their customers’ eyes. Once they do, they’ll see that the one-size-fits-all approach, whether with email marketing, customer service, or any other customer-facing process, no longer works. Customers today want what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, and if companies fail to see that, their competition is just a click away.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.