RELATIONSHIP TECH

To remember what a customer wants.

A majority of the things we do, we do repetitively. We engage in the same tasks every day, or once a week, or every now and then. Things done iteratively have different dynamics from things done once. Little events become important. We bristle at having to remember our password again, or having to recite how we like our coffee one more time, or having to explain again what we don’t like about bathing suits. Humans who learn our quirks (and they must be learned) earn our favor. Firms who learn our quirks will also earn our favor.

The technology of tracking and interpreting our whims heightens the relationships between firm and consumer. The firm must expend great effort to remember your preferences, but you also expend effort in teaching them so they can remember. And the remembering must be intelligent. You order the same espresso every day, except when it’s cold out, and then you order a latte. The relationship tech has to be robust enough to be taught these distinctions.

Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, authors of the amazingly insightful Enterprise One to One, state: “A Learning Relationship between a customer and an enterprise gets smarter and smarter with every individual interaction, defining in ever more detail the customer’s own individual needs and tastes. Every time a customer orders her groceries by calling up last week’s list and updating it, for instance, she is in effect ‘teaching’ the service more about the products she buys and the rate at which she consumes them.” In reward for the firm’s effort at being taught, the firm and the customer develop a committed relationship. Peppers and Rogers continue: “The shopping service will develop a knowledge of this particular customer that is virtually impossible for a competitive shopping service to duplicate, providing an impregnable lock on the customer’s loyalty.” At the same time, the customer has invested so much in the relationship that the cost of switching to another vendor gets steeper by the day. Peppers and Rogers: “When the florist sends a note reminding you of your mother’s birthday, and offers to deliver flowers again this year to the same address and charged against the same credit card you used with the florist last year, what are the chances that you will pick up the phone and try to find a cheaper florist?”

 

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