I read an article recently by an ESP CEO explaining that in his opinion the best way he found to get to know customers was to invite them into his office! I found this inordinately patronising and down-right idiotic. Everyone and their dog appreciate that to improve the service to your customers you must “know” them, and that includes not only what they like or dislike, but the standards which serve those decisions. I’d like to see him try and get the 500k from an average database in his office!
Without knowing and understanding how consumers think, you can’t build a successful retail business. If you’re a small business owner, this idea can be frightening–particularly when you’ve invested a lot already, and you might have a different vision for your company from the people you’re selling to.
The peculiar thing about customers, and expressly evident when asking them to complete surveys, is that what they say and what they do can be juxtaposed. Therefore when I offer that it is important to “know” your customer, by this I mean it is important to the point of knowing them better than they do themselves or indeed are prepared to tell you.
When we devised SwiftERM, we appreciated this distinction and ensured we built in a 100% automated programme using a predictive analytics algorithm and finite solution for services above and beyond what the world to date, or indeed so far has experienced. A tool which in addition to emailing campaign, PPS and SEO campaigns delivered that rarest of jewels, and yet most lucrative, the ability to offer each consumer that product most personal and unique to them, forgetting anyone else and thereby ensuring that un-tapped profits are enjoyed simply by offering that, which the particular customer wanted, at exactly the right moment. Here is a simple comparison: if you show a customer what they want or show them something you have just bought in, which do you think they will buy? Argue away, the jury came in years ago, what they want at a ratio which makes any surprise to the contrary worthy of the need for a good actor.
Getting to know your customer doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. But it can be if you have to do it manually, now that is a really daunting thought.
Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer, at every conceivable time. Including in the loo, sat at their dining room table, playing games, in bed on their tablet bedsocks on a glass of wine in hand, or stuck on the M25 seething at the women in the car in front, after all, it’s her fault for the queue. We offer the means to watch them by every media upon which they can be captured, their thoughts, nuances, likes, dislikes all poured into a reservoir of knowledge from which you can drink. You can establish a deeper level of empathy and build trust among customers for your business. This facility brings honest and direct feedback on what your customers genuinely think about your products or service. It can’t be broken, your empathy grows with every click and impression created.
I spend half my time watching consumer behaviour. I once went on a customer visit with members of the product management and research teams, where one of the researchers asked a customer what they thought about automation. It turns out they hated it. Strange then how the same individuals expressed one thing yet demonstrated the exact opposite in practice. Their purchase patterns enjoyed personal attention. Nobody likes to feel some omniscient being is ‘spying” on them, but if you were their favourite assistant in their favourite clothes shop, they’d know your first name, where your children went to school and you’d know exactly what to put aside for them when they came in. There would be no effrontery taken for even knowing when that was likely to be.
While I respect uses of other systems and facilities, especially one so successful as our peers, I take little pleasure when retailers suffer from failing to include their direct overheads involved in its application being conveniently omitted from comparison calculations. Several days a month are typically spent segmenting audiences, and products pertinent to “groups” of individuals, many of whom bought that product already, many of whom never would. Bigger organisations have dedicated staff for the same pursuit. SwiftERM gathers so much valuable data, that it enables the system not only to feature pertinent product quickly, but only ever pertinent products every time, and as it knows the consumer so well, that might include the early hours, high-days and holidays too. SwiftERM being totally automatic has no additional overheads, whatsoever.
Remember, the only milestone you ever pass using such a system is the enjoyment achieved by giving your customers what they want every time and when they want it, which used to be the definition of loyalty