You Know Me So Well…It Creeps Me Out

Today’s guest blogger is someone you’ve heard from previously here on my blog. Yvonne Ba provides the marketing force behind some of Avaya’s leading Customer Experience Management and Emerging Products & Technology portfolios. In this role Yvonne provides the marketing strategy, awareness, sales enablement and engagement for next generation innovations and contact center capabilities. She has over 15 years experience in strategy, sales and marketing, a BA in International Business from the University of California at Davis, and an MBA from Santa Clara University.

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We talk a lot about creating more intimate relationships with customers, but can the ideal be carried too far? Being more personal is not always better. During a recent panel session, an executive recounted a story about an automated reminder program that backfired. Customers receiving the proactive outbound calls didn’t like it when the IVR app called them by their first names.

That started me thinking about the marriage of predictive analytics and proactive outreach strategies. Many companies are trying to do more right than wrong with personalization. But can predictive analytics predict when the personal touch will leave customers feeling uneasy — or worse? Target’s recent experience is just one case of many where companies potentially create a negative customer experience by trying to create a positive one.

Geek blogger Richard Darell calls it a “creepy sales strategy” and warns consumers to be aware of “customer profiling.” After years of seeing “Titles you may also like” when shopping online, personalization finally has crossed the line for him.

Darell is not alone. Predictive analytics have crossed that line for many consumers, according to an infographic by barcode labeling company Camcode. Their research found, for example, that 76% of consumers are “bothered” that others pay less for the same products.

If targeted couponing bothers us, it should come as no surprise that some forms of intimacy could be downright intimidating or “creepy,” even if your intentions are pure. You may view outbound IVR personalization as a means to create a warmer, more valued relationship, but your customers may see it as a cold machine knowing too much about them. It’s tricky to find the right strategy!

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that consumers appreciate more intimacy when they’ve opted in. Consumers readily divulge personal facts in return for discounts, exclusive sales events, or advance product information. The special treatment that comes with a closer relationship includes demonstrating that you know and understand the customer. There is trust. Leveraging the right outbound strategy can bring businesses huge success!

It’s difficult to strike a healthy balance of personalized and anonymous outbound interaction. Anonymity has a place in this new world of customer experience management. In the case of collections or late payment reminders, for example, an automated reminder may be a lot less embarrassing and emotional if it doesn’t use the customer’s name.

What recent experiences in customer service have creeped you out? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts on how to strike the right balance.

If you’re interested in learning more, please join us next week – Tuesday, February 12th at noon Eastern – for an informational webinar, presented by Avaya subject matter expert, Chuck Neumann: Increasing Contact Center Revenues and Profitability with Outbound Communications. This webinar will be presented by Avaya subject matter expert, Chuck Neumann, who has extensive experience working with customers to design outbound communications strategies to fit the needs of businesses of all different sizes and shapes around the globe.

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