In which Jill realizes that the more things change, the more they stay the same. As in, just when you think everyone knows something, someone else comes up and asks a few basic questions about it and the whole thing begins anew. Sort of like an episode of The Sopranosâ€¦
Wouldnâ€™t it be nice to begin at the beginning? Just wave a magic wand and watch those legacy systems and silos and replicated, messy data all just disappear? Then we could be really agile with our customer relationship management, unencumbered by all that crazy data. Some companiesâ€”even those who have tried to remedy their data disarrayâ€”still have fundamental questions about their businesses. Like who their customers are.
Last year I facilitated what can only be called an executive grudge match at an automobile company. The topic: Who are our customers?
Yesterdayâ€™s news, you say? Move on already, say you? Nothing doing. As they had before, a handful of executives insisted that consumersâ€”the people who bought the carsâ€”were the customers. Other execs were ready to fall on their swords for the dealers. Iâ€™d kicked off the meeting with the simple question, â€śWho do you want to sell to, and who do you want to serve?â€ť (Okay, call me Pollyanna.) And then I watched the fur fly!
It would be great to capture the results of such meetings. (That is, when there are results.) We could develop our institutional memory, recording corporate knowledge, bearing witness to the evolution of our corporate decisions and strategies. Then we could apply those decisions to our branding, creating captivating and sensory messages to connect with people in a meaningful way, as author Mark GobĂ© advocates in his book, Emotional Branding.
But first we need rules. Rules about what defines a customer, what defines a good customer, what defines a desirable prospect, and rules about how to treat them all when we have their attention. Not all customers are created equal. Not all brands are created equal. Not all companies are created equal eitherâ€”unless, of course they decide to do exactly what their competitors are doing.
Posted May 31, 2007 7:23 AM
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