I Want You to Know Me

Go on, admit it. You spent far too many afternoons in the late 70s listening to your "Cheap Trick at Budokan" album, singing along to "Surrender", "Ain't that a Shame" and the classic, "I Want You To Want Me"... "didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you crying..."

And now, three short decades later, here you are. Sitting in your office. Humming along to "Dream Police". Flipping through the latest copy of CRM Magazine, and contemplating a whole different class of philosophical questions. How do I stop my customers from going to the competition? How do I get them coming back more often? How can I get them to buy more, and more often?

It turns out that Cheap Trick almost had the answer to these philosophical questions - your customers actually want you to know them. In fact, 3 out of 4 consumers expect you to know them.

According to a consumer study conducted by MyBuys and the e-tailing Group, over 76 percent of respondents said they both wanted and expected personalized interactions with retailers and manufacturers, and that if they got them, they would buy more.

Get to Know Me

This should not be news to anyone who's grown up in bricks-and-mortar retail. Top sales associates know their customers. Not only do they know their name, and the names of their kids; they know their personal style, their preferences and their buying habits.

In the online world, this knowledge is even more powerful, because technology gives us better reach, and a better memory. Innovative tools available today allow you to observe where a consumer is spending time online, capture what they're clicking on (and what they're not clicking on) and examine the products of interest, as well as their attributes. These attributes can help answer critical questions: Is the customer a value shopper? Do they respond well to something that is "new" more often than something "on sale"? Does brand matter to this individual?

Now That You Know Me

How do you apply this in practice? It's a tall order considering consumer interaction occurs everywhere: online, in email, via mobile, in the call center, and in the physical store.

The answer is to tap tools available today that help you build persistent profiles about each of your customers, capturing information about their interests, preferences, spending biases, purchase patterns, attributes, transactions and more. The deeper the understanding, the better the results: when you use this information to put personalized offers in front of your customers via personal email alerts, you can see up to 3x increases in conversion rates. And it works across all retail channels.

If, for example, you see a consumer browsing online for autumn dresses, recommend the perfect matching scarf. But if you know this consumer has never visited the scarf category, and never clicked on a scarf offer as a cross-sell - then use that precious recommendation real estate for an offer on gloves, a hand-bag, or a more expensive dress.

If your customer is identified as a trendy shopper that often buys on first product introduction, and they've opted in to mobile alerts - send them an SMS message when the new arrivals come in, inviting them into the store for a first look.

Be aware of every merchandising event, across every channel, and reach out proactively to your consumers with relevant offers based on this precious knowledge.

Know When to Give Me My Space

The next question is "how do I be relevant and engaging, without being intrusive?"

The answer: make sure all of your interactions with consumers are permission-based. Don't store any personally identifiable information, and ensure there is a secure wall between profile information and any form of contact information, including email addresses, home addresses, and mobile numbers. Respect the individual by ensuring their anonymity, reach out to them with relevant offers that you know they'll like - and you'll be rewarded with happy, loyal customers that purchase more.

By knowing and respecting your customer, your philosophical questions will be answered. Which means you can go back to listening to your iPod, which undoubtedly has one or two Cheap Trick classics....quot;I'll shine up the old brown shoes, put on a brand new shirt..." If you're doing your job well, and building your knowledge of your customers, then more of them will be buying new shirts from you, instead of getting by with their old brown shoes.

About the Author

Robert Cell (rcell@mybuys.com) is the chief executive officer of MyBuys, a provider of personalized recommendations. Cell also served as chief executive officer at AdSpace Networks, an in-mall advertising leader, and chief operating officer at Blue Martini Software, an e-commerce pioneer. Prior to that position, Cell was general manager and vice president of Kellogg Company.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on Comments at the top.

To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
To subscribe to CRM magazine, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/
If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

For the rest of the February 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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