Big Brand, Little Brand -- Guess Which One Gets CRM Wrong?

There are two very different examples of using customer data this week I thought I'd tell you about. One was great, one not so much. It's almost like A Tale of Two Cities, and that's a hint of where it all led.

Campaigners often claim the worst thing about the digital age is companies ask too much personal information. I'd counter that with the observation that the more annoying facet of modern life is brands ask enough information from you but then don't use it.

This is what makes this week's experience with LG rather interesting. To be blunt, this is the poor case of CRM that had me scratching my head this week.

Like many an excited new owner I was directed to register my new LG television online so they had my details should I have a problem. No need to go through a bunch of serial numbers and purchase dates. No, fill in this one form, attach the original invoice and LG should have your back.

Only they don't. A call to fix a problem resulted in me having to repeat who I was, including my address and so on. I thought it might be a security check, but when I was asked the date and from whom I bought the set, I pointed out that they had all that data form just a month ago. It got worse as I had to find a twenty- or thirty-character long serial number as well as a long model number. Again, I pointed out I had already found out all this information and logged it.

The obvious question was why ask me what you already know? It's just time-consuming and annoying finding out serial numbers requires a whole bunch of menus to get dragged through before the answer is found.

The answer floored me. Apparently, they don't really expect anyone to fill in their warranty purchase information. Ok, so what about those who do -- why not use the data? That's not a bad idea, I was told, but it's not policy.

I will leave you to consider how useful it is to ask for a bunch of data you never look up subsequently and instead ask customers to find it all out again, and read it out over the phone.

So, I thought it was only worthwhile pointing this out because of another campaign that actually delighted me this week. It's an overused word in marketing, but the Oxford Playhouse theatre is now logged in my mind as one of the savviest marketing organisations around. 

Here's why. After going to see the wonderful "Art" play the other day, I was sent a postcard featuring a scene from the play reminding me it was my first booking for a long time. I have to confess, I've been mostly going to another theatre nearby. Anyway, as they hadn't seen me for quite a while, they were giving me a half-price offer on an upcoming show so long as I booked within a fortnight. The discount would be automatically deducted.

Just think about the data that has been used here. They have matched my booking records with my account to understand which play I'd seen recently and how long it had been since I was last there. They then gave a time-limited offer that was built-in to the booking system, so I didn't have to cut and paste some long coupon code. 

And do you know what? It absolutely worked. We're booked to see another show soon, Richard III, all through a campaign that looks simple on the face of it, but actually requires an initial input of data to be matched against records and then applied to an account and a booking system.

Now, who would you expect to get this right. A small regional theatre or a multinational consumer electronics giant? 

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