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It's National Get-to-Know-Your-Customer Day

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on April 18, 2019

The origin of the holiday is unknown, but it’s likely that the intent was a prompt to genuinely get to know your customer – personally – for their sake and for yours. In this era of deep segmentation and AI-based algorithms that predict behaviors, preferences and predilections, does that count as getting to know me? Can this idea even work today?

In the financial world there is a semi-famous phrase you hear a lot in sales calls – “past behavior does not guarantee future performance”. No – this is not a shaming of AI and machine learning customer segmentation because they base decisions on historical data, but it might be a good time to point out that people are capable of changing.  Aha! You say – the algorithm can even predict that! I’m sure you’re right but that’s still just prediction and that’s a far cry from relationship.

Can brands really know me? Or just really
know a lot (a whole lot) about me?

One of the most basic drivers of our humanity is our desire to be known. On some level, to be known is to have value. I want you to know me. And while I think it’s pretty cool that you can predict my coffee preferences, that amounts to nothing more than a party trick when compared to the experience of engaging me, talking with me.

But shouldn’t every day be “get to know your customer” day?

In theory, this should be the best day of the year for customer data analysts. They spend their waking hours getting to know us better – figuring out what makes us tick - figuring out who we are. On this, the third Thursday of the quarter, they get to come out from behind the dark curtains and be acknowledged. Please, if you are a customer data analyst – this is your moment to take a quick bow. You do amazing things. Thank you.

But beyond understanding our behaviors as customers, what can you (we) do to get to know our customers better? That’s a real question – not a rhetorical one. What can you do to get to know your customers better?I’ll acknowledge that it’s a difficult one for most organizations of any size. 

We’ve gotten really good at moving populations in various directions, but brand loyalty is just another concept if it’s not connected to actual people. Maybe this is a good time to ask ourselves if it’s enough to just create loyalty.

If your algorithm can predict that I’m going stop by Starbucks on my way into the office tomorrow morning, then why not meet me there and we can say hi? I have some extra stars on my card – I might even buy the coffee.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).