I am a great believer in providing the personal touch when it comes to my subscribers and customers. I prefer to reply personally to emails rather than outsource it or use a support desk.
Certainly this fits in with my business plan at the present time.
I was therefore interested to read an article in the Telegraph titled “When businesses know too much – Personal service is more possible than ever, but it can also put off customers”
I guess there is a huge difference between offering a personal service and knowing too much information about your customers.
Today data is a popular topic and more and more software tools are being offered to marketers that enable us to find out more about our ideal prospects.
Of course it is important to know our target market but I do wonder if a lot of the data collected is actually relevant!
The Big G
Let’s take Google as an example since they are probably one of the biggest data gatherers! As a search engine, understanding exactly what we like or dislike on any topic is relevant since it will enable Google to provide us with only those bits of information that we are likely to be interested in.
Have you noticed that when you visit a website and they have adsense ads on the site – those ads are no longer ads specific to the website itself but rather ads that are relevant to the sites and topics that we have recently been searching about and looking at.
Do you find this annoying? Or perhaps you haven’t noticed!
For example, if I am on Amazon looking at particular things – such as gymnastic leotards for my daughter then when I go and visit an unrelated website I find that I am being shown ads for leotards!
So relevant for a search engine perhaps but what other websites? What about your own business? Is the data you collect really necessary in order to give your prospects a better service?
The Cookie Monster
We could call Google the Cookie Monster! Which of course reminds me of Sesame Street…
When the word ‘cookie’ first started doing the rounds online it was meet with a certain amount of caution. I certainly remember being a little concerned about the invasion of a cookie storing all my usage data.
As with all things -the more we see it, the more we hear about it, the more normal it becomes. Now we don’t bat an eyelid when we see a cookie disclaimer appear on the screen.
However, I wonder how often you clear your browser cookies?
My Bad Experience With Cookies
I have set my browser to clear all of my cookies when I close it down. The reason being that it messes things up when I am changing any of my websites or webpages.
I learned this the hard way.
When I was transferring my old Hostgator account to my new account I had a nightmare! I thought I had totally lost my sites somewhere in the ether!
I knew I had a clone of each website but it just wouldn’t appear on the screen! It took me ages and a lot of unnecessary stress to discover that it was all due to the cookie monster!
Improved User Experience
The real reason why information is collected is to improve the users experience and this is a good thing.
However, a recent study has shown that the younger generation are finding it a little too much! What is interesting is that the level of annoyance differs according to country.
Americans are the most forgiving whereas Europeans tend to be more suspicious.
If you do collect a lot of data then there has to be something in it for the person giving you that data. Such as a freebie or discount code. An incentive.
The most compelling reason why people in general are happy to provide information is if they would then only receive emails or details of specific things that would be of interest to them.
In other words, if providing data means that we can automatically filter out a lot of the clutter and noise online then this is a huge benefit.
Is it really possible? Perhaps I am a skeptic, but won’t we just get the same amount of noise and clutter but at least it will be about things we are interested in?! 🙂
- If you go down the path of obtaining huge amounts of data about your prospects then make sure you do something with it that will enhance their experience. Let them know that it is benefiting them!
- Never, ever abuse that information or sell it on – ever!
- I believe that online, people want to experience something more personal as in tangible. So stand out by being available and real in this virtual world.