The Problem with Historical Data

glitzy or frivolous—introverts want subtle, relaxed, and reassuring products and messages that solve a problem or have practical benefits. That same next-gen smartphone will come across well as the labor-saving, intelligent, no-nonsense option—the one that everyone's buying.

That's the extrovert versus introvert, but approaches can be amended and adapted based on what we know, at a scientific level, will resonate with customers across the Big 5 personality model.

Data showing customers' online habits is good for short-term strategy, but it doesn't touch the longevity of personality when planning and mapping lasting customer relationships. In other words, what someone did is time-limited data, while personality insight is robust, long-lasting, and transcends demographics.

Next year is set to be a record year for investment in CRM. Half of all companies polled by eConsultancy said they'll invest more in it than in any other channel, and Gartner predicts CRM will be a $36 billion market by 2017. However, misfiring with skewed recommendations and impersonal service could cause irreparable damage.

Experian research found that 84 percent of people surveyed would take their business elsewhere on the basis of not being understood, and more than 40 percent of consumers surveyed are seeking out companies that offer an additional feel-good factor.

So while brands are investing bucketloads in CRM, customers are saying they'll vote with their clicks if their shopping experience lacks love. So use the force, use personality—loving someone starts with truly knowing who they are.

Jacob Wright is the head of strategy at VisualDNA, where he is responsible for defining strategy and delivering strategic initiatives.

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