customer delightmessage responsibleprivacy

Great marketing or an invasion of privacy?

By April 18, 2008 3 Comments

Here are a few customer experiences you are probably familiar with:

  • Your barista knows your drink.
  • The service manager at the auto dealer greets you by name when you pull up.
  • You buy groceries using your rewards card, then receive a coupon for products that directly compete with the products you’ve just purchased (or maybe even purchased in the past).
  • You receive a mortgage offer in the mail that knows what you owe, and shows you what your payment will be if you switch.
  • Your favorite social networking site suggests people you might know — and you know all of them.
  • You login to an e-commerce site to search for computer equipment, can’t find what you want and leave. Five minutes later, you receive a call from your account rep saying, “I noticed you were on XYZ.com, and just wanted to make sure you found what you were looking for.”

This is one of Responsible Marketing’s challenging gray areas: Building personalized and relevant one-to-one relationships with customers and prospects vs. respecting their privacy.

Here’s a video from the ACLU (love ’em or hate ’em) that takes the privacy question to the extreme:

To be responsible, you have to balance personalization with privacy. The irony is, one of the best options to to do it is to know just how personalized a customer wants their experience to be.

What do you think?

Comment below to weigh in.

. . .
Special thanks to my partner Bill Boyd for sharing the above video.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Patrick,

    Definitely touched on a number of gray areas. Any service person who knows my name and my wants and needs is doing a great job in my mind, as long as this is a face-to-face transaction. Getting mail that seems to know about private details does not represent great customer interaction, as the sender assumes we have a relationship that we don’t have. Everyone who sends me such a piece of mail has no chance ever to sell me anything.

    That said, gray also exists in the two scernarios I describe above. At the end of the day, the answer to how we feel is based on our personal experiences and emotions and cannot be assumed for any other person.

    Nice post.

  • Josh Gray says:

    Working in advertising we have to ask ourselves what is responsible marketing and what isn’t. Nice post. I sent this to everyone I know basically.

  • This is a great video – please post the link. One thing that everyone believes to be true, and is ultimately false, is that the consumer wants you to know everything about them so they can look “knowledgeable” or “educated” or “personal” when someone interacts with them. The result, the consumer or customer is ultimately “turned off” and actually quite “disturbed” that this is going on.

    We developed the concept a while back that Loyalty isn’t built by having all the detailed information entered into the latest and greatest CRM system that anyone anywhere in the world can access and “act” like they know you. Loyalty is built in exactly the opposite way. Loyalty is built by allowing the customer to share the few and the core Promises or commitments they want you to make and then delivering on these all the time without question. The more complicated and the more sophisticated the system, the more suspect the customer actually becomes.

    Responsible marketing starts with being responsible (and accountable) to the customer in a way that they can relate to. Just keep the few Promises they want from you and they will be happy, build TRUST and ultimately build LOYALTY. It goes back to the old KISS statement – where did we lose sight of this and believe that just because our technology runs in nanoseconds and can store 500GB of information in a device the size of your wallet things had to become complicated. Give me a break. Keep it simple and you will win customers and win their Loyalty – as long as you know what is important to them and can deliver each and every day.

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