“Do You Know Who I Am?”: What a Jerk Says, but What a Customer Thinks

Contributed by Chris Bucholtz, Editor in Chief of SugarCRM’s CRM Insiders Blog

man pointing at self What’s the epitome of an obnoxious person? You might think that’s a tough and very subjective question. I don’t think it is. There’s one way in which the truly obnoxious self-identify, and I bet you’ve actually seen it in action. It’s the person, who when they are confronted by something that befuddles or angers them, unleashes this classic:

“Do you know who I am?!?”

When you overhear that, don’t you automatically say to yourself, “what a jerk!” That is the appropriate response. Other appropriate responses include a number of words that can be swapped for “jerk” that I can’t use in a blog sponsored by a respectable software company.

Keep that in mind when you realize this: the question “do you know who I am?” is the unspoken question customers ask when they do business with you. It’s not that  they expect you to share some deep, personal understanding with them; they want you to know them in the context of the experiences you’ve had with them. That’s one of the difficult things about CRM: customers have relatively small number of experiences with you, which are thus discernable in their memories. Sellers, on the other hand, participate in many transactions, which through repetition blend together and thus require automation to capture data.

Customers aren’t jerks – but they do want to be treated as though their past experiences with a company are remembered. But even when you do capture all the data about customers, how do you make them feel like your last experience with them was as memorable for you as it was to them?

First, it’s up to you to understand the data you collect. Marketing needs to look at past transactions to understand what makes a positive experience, then find ways to replicate those successful elements in future transactions. But it’s also important to find out things that were successful with individual customers – those personal things are key to building loyalty and inspiring delight in customers.

You may have read about Target’s effective data mining efforts and how terrifyingly insightful they can be. But what if Target had used its (computing) power for good instead and picked out small things that customers bought regularly and which were clearly frivolous, fun things to buy – for example, I go to Target to buy baseball cards, and I do so every couple of weeks. What if they identified that fun purchase – whether it was trading cards, CDs, logo T-shirts, greeting cards or whatever – and applies an automatic discount at the cash register, which the checkout clerk announces on the spot – “we know you like buying these here, so we’re giving you a discount this time to say thanks!” That would be a pretty effective loyalty builder, I would think. There’d be no need to do it every time; it would be a nice surprise and the kind of thing that could get customers thinking in positive ways about their experience in anticipation of arriving at the store.

In a B2B context, you could do something similar. Let’s say there’s a product a customer buys on a regular interval. Once you note that interval, you can send a message offering a thank-you discount just before the next time they’re due to order from you. It sends the message that you’re paying attention to them, and that you appreciate their business – and it’s easy to do with CRM and a bit of paying attention.

And the best part is that customers will feel like you know them – not a lot, but about the amount that they want you to know them: enough to make their experiences with you better.

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By Chris Bucholtz