Go From “Yup” to an E-Mail Dialogue

After a week of deadlines, meetings, hurdle-jumping, and innumerable challenges, you look forward to the weekend to catch up on the quality side of a “balanced” life. Now that my children are on their own, weekends are spent doing errands and reconnecting with friends and family. The last thing I want to do is talk business: the importance of building relevant email dialogue with customers and how most of the world doesn’t get it. Like you, I seek anonymity.

Not that I’ve found a safe haven from ever-present marketing mistakes. No matter where you are, you can find businesses that don’t value customer relationships and email’s growing importance in establishing relevant dialogue. This past weekend provided me with enough material for several columns.

Take my visit to Classic Auto Mall in Connecticut. It sells some of the most beautiful vintage automobiles. Walking through the place, grown men will examine every piece of chrome on the exquisite vehicles in a state of adoration. Suffice it to say the DiGuido garage houses one such beauty, purchased not more than six months ago from this very place.

I visit the Classic Auto Mall routinely. The most frustrating part of the visit is always feeling like a new customer and finding anyone who can provide me with any relevant information on any car in the showroom. Two partners watch potential customers come in and out of the showroom all day, yet they fail to collect anyone’s name, email address, or interests. Heck, they barely move off their stools behind a counter. It’s as if you need to beg them to buy one of their cars.

Last Saturday, just for kicks, I stood in the showroom for half an hour to see if anyone would approach me (remember, I’d recently purchased a car from this shop). Finally, one partner moved off his chair, approached me, and said, “Yup?”

That’s it. “Yup?” Not, “Can I help you?” Not, “Do you want to drive one of these beauties home today?” Just, “Yup?” This wouldn’t be as traumatic if they hadn’t advertised “friendly, courteous service” in print and billboard campaigns around town.

Is it just me? Do you get your fill of organizations who try to build customer relationships with empty promises of customer service?

Organizations have spent millions of dollars developing CRM (define) solutions. These initiatives were once touted as a panacea for all customer retention and growth challenges. After years of implementing technology and draining corporate pocketbooks, businesses have learned the importance of managing every customer touch point.

Missing from all this hardware, software, and consulting is a real focus on assembling the data and plotting a communication strategy toward “optimizing” customer relationships in a cost-efficient, effective manner.

Few companies maintain customer relationships by leveraging data from every intersection of customer contact. Fewer still have an executable strategy to fully optimize customer relationships through relevant, integrated email dialogue. Let’s abolish the “customer relationship management” philosophy. Let’s replace it with “customer optimization management” systems and strategies.

What are the elements of customer optimization management? First, you need a communications network that delivers customer interaction information from every touch point into a data warehouse that allows for true cross-channel analysis. This network must append data to customer profiles in real time, allowing the marketer a unique view of the current state of business relationships on a customer-by-customer basis.

Enterprises must leverage a campaign management system that triggers relevant email communications to customers based on their specific profile, behaviors, or needs. An analytic backbone should allow marketers to track activity across all in- and outbound touch points. It should provide companies with the flexibility to build and test offers for marketability and effectiveness across consumer segments.

The components of the customer optimization management toolkit are scattered throughout our industry. As I visit marketers across all verticals and experience the disconnect within so many businesses from a customer perspective, I’m more convinced than ever that such a system viable. It’s the next evolutionary step toward building profitable business models.

Consumers will no longer tolerate the “yup” factor. And why should they, when we have the tools to create the “wow” factor through relevant email communications and dialogue?

Until next time,

Al D.

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