Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Touchpoint Marketing Chapter 1: Do Companies Really Know You?


Do Companies Really Know You?

Starting today and through this week a seven-part series on Touchpoint Marketing. This is the first part of a seven-part series.

Organizations evolve. Steadily over a period of time. And as it goes in Organization Theory, they start getting more institutionalized through structures, levels, hierarchies, culture, values, policies and processes. Most of these aren’t really ‘etched in stone’ fundamentals that organizations begin with. But most of these keep getting formalized as organizations acquire client base, gather some momentum, expand their tentacles, carve their distinct identities, positioning, the mindspace amidst their customers. Both existing and potential.

The entire idea of Organization theory is a beautiful concept that allows companies to be much more efficient and effective in their chosen goal of serving their customers. Structures that allow the companies to get closer to their customers and serve them better.
Now, look around and try to think of all the companies you’ve ever dealt with. Right from your mobile service provider to banks to retailers. Right from big-ticket items like cars, consumer durables and holiday packages to everyday FMCG goods. How often have you been (allow me the cliché) ‘delighted’ as a customer? You think ‘delighted’ is too passé a word. Well there are a multitude of others doing the rounds – customer ecstasy, the ‘Wow’, the ‘Aha!’….an entire battery of such customer-isms depicting your satisfaction levels.
Moving beyond the world of Organization theory, let’s talk about the more glam sounding concepts of Research and Analytics. Insights, Marketing effectiveness, Marketing ROI, data, Big data, Predictability, Certainty, Measurements, CRM, Dashboards, Customer Scorecards, Business Intelligence, Measuring the intangibles, Smart Analytics. Phew!
Analytics (and its various avatars) are the biggest thing to have happened to Management since Lean and Six Sigma. It’s in, it’s cool, it’s intelligent and more of an imperative for your corporate existence to be talking about it. To discuss the magic of Analytics and how it has the potential to ‘Unravel’ (pardon the cliché once again) layers of customer insights, never known before! 
Companies are processing data, Big data by terabytes. You habits, spending patterns, ‘likes’ (it’s no longer a cute word preceding love. It means big business in today’s overtly ‘social’ times), your lifestyle is under constant surveillance. You are under constant, microscopic observations. As a customer, every day, every moment you are being studied, processed, segmented, clustered, regressed and character-sketched. You, the customer, are the subject, with multitude of subject matter experts knowing more about you than your father-in-law!
Wonderful times to live in, right? With so much customer-centric, infact customer-obsessed practices, you the customer, must be amidst the best of times, right? Yes? No!
Once again, think about all the Brands that are serving you right now. How many of these, do you think have really ‘delighted’ you off late?
My existing Bank sold me a Demat brokerage plan and I have since then been running from pillar to post to get it resolved. My multiple well-wishers in this bank right from Equity advisor, Relationship manager, Customer care Execs, Helpdesks, Head Service Quality, etc. have all suddenly vanished in thin air. What a wonderful Organization structure to be swimming in? Amidst all these glorified roles, everybody knows everything about everything. But no single body, knows that one single thing that it takes to (forget delight) Retain an irate customer.
The point being, amidst all this customer relationship and analytics jargon, how many companies are actually reaching out to their Existing customers? Note the word ‘Existing’. We’re not even including ‘potential’ customers in this debate.  Somewhere in our B-schools, we were entrenched with this wonderful insight –
‘It costs ten times to get a new customer as it takes to retain an existing customer.’
Now with companies going out all guns blazing to acquire newer customers, expand footprints, grab footfalls, eyeballs and all the works, is anyone even looking at this huge set of existing customers? 
“Yes, ofcourse” will be an emphatic response from the marketing and technology heads of most firms. “Why else do you think we’ve invested millions in super data-crunching machines and Apps?” We are generating existing customer spend and lifestyle patterns by the minute.
Fair enough. And that precisely, brings us back to the discussion. Think again. How often have we have seen the magic of all this Analytics actually ‘Touching’ us? In today’s age of multiple Touchpoints, are brands and companies actually ‘Touching’ us at all?

To know more, continue reading the second part of this seven-part series here

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