Why Treat Recurring Customers like Strangers?

If my airline notices that I usually reserve a window seat on aisle 10 to 15 every time I check in, it could suggest one to me the next time I do a mobile check in, skipping the ten-minute seat reservation process. A flyer, frequent or not, should not be treated as a stranger every time he or she has to board a plane.

If my bank’s ATM remembers how much cash I usually withdraw every 15th day of the month, it could ask me right away if I want to withdraw ‘the usual’ the next time I use it, avoiding the standard workflow. A bank customer, no matter how many debit or credit cards he or she has, shouldn’t be treated as a stranger every time they interact with an ATM.

Customers give away more clues why, when, and how they use our products and services than we admit. Click To Tweet

Customers give away more clues why, when, and how they use our products and services than we admit. They also assign great value—consciously or not—to the relationships with businesses that understand these clues and respond to their needs accordingly.

Then why aren’t more businesses looking into the data that they already have and trying to find the consumption patterns that their customers are already giving away? Let’s think of a few reasons:

  • We don’t know what to do is nothing short of saying that the organization has been left clueless about the future, what it is most likely to bring, and how everyone is most likely have a chance to adapt.
  • We’ve never done things this way is the excuse for organizations where individuals hide behind company culture to avoid making decisions and to avert taking risk.
  • We just don’t have the money, time, or resources is another way to say that somewhere, at some point of time, understanding customers stopped being a priority for everyone.
  • We don’t have the competencies means either that long-time employees have stopped learning new skills, or that (even more alarming) the organization has stopped hiring new talent.

Our operations/marketing/sales have always performed fine just the way they are. Why change them? At first sight, each of the points above seems like a good enough excuse to not take action. Until you calculate the cost of non-action; of keeping things just the way they have always been (while the rest of the world is changing at an increasing pace).

In a business environment where customer experience is becoming ever more personalized, how much longer do you think that customers will stay with the companies that keep treating them as strangers?

Innovation Manager at ICB, a software company. Curious about the technology of business and the business of technology.