Who Says You Can’t Find Love on the Phone

Everyone these days has either a George Costanza sized wallet or a keychain the size of a small dog filled with reward cards from every business around.  These programs give you some great perks such as 10 cents off gas, some good coupons in the mail or 10% off your purchase.  For example, a day in my life as an American consumer goes something like this.

  • Stop at Speedway (our local gas station) to buy some coffee and gas for the car.  Got your Speedy Rewards Card? Check.
  • Head over to Marsh for lunch with Abi.  Got your Marsh Card? Check.
  • Swing by CVS on the way back to the office to pick up some Motrin.  Got your CVS card? Check.
  • Swing by Petco on the way home for some dog food.  Got your Petco card? Check.
  • Pop into Dick’s Sporting Goods on the way to Basketball practice.  Got your Rewards Card? Check.
  • Head on over to Best Buy while the girls are in practice.  Got your Best Buy card? Check.

 For several years we as consumers have been pulled further and further into the great data retention experiment without really realizing it.  Throughout this time businesses in both private and public repositories have been storing vast amounts of data on our purchasing patterns, demographic data, salary estimates, where we shop, where we grew up etc.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your viewpoint this has been segmented by the individual business to be used for their customers.   Over the next few years we are going to see a massive swing away from the ‘private’ business to consumer relationship and into the world of data being a business line of its own.  Retail oriented businesses particularly will see the stored value they have in all this customer data and be under pressure to capitalize on it. We are starting to see today a very large swing away from this privacy world and a migration to a consolidated access point which can be used by many vendors to access holistic information about a customer. 

What does this all mean to the contact center and to consumers?  In the contact center having consolidated data about a customer is a gold mine.  I was recently in a meeting with a client of ours who was modeling the effect of up selling to a customer base using minimal data (ie the data this individual business had about the client) vs. using a full data set as provided by organizations like TRG.  The impact was impressive but also made you feel like you were living a sci-fi movie of some sort with big brother pulling the strings of the Matrix.  The new paradigm and expectation for contact centers will not be just to get it to the most skilled agent but rather to get your call to Sally specifically because you are more likely to buy from a woman who grew up in your hometown, has the same number of kids and also drives a Mazda-3 rather than Jim who has none of the above things in common with you.  Pretty impressive stuff!

As a technologist my initial reaction is “Wow is that cool!” especially when you see it happening in real time to someone else.  However, once I realized that it could have easily been me calling in I couldn’t help but wonder who the system would have deemed my perfect fit?  Maybe your soul mate will come not from a date at the local restaurant but from a call into the Shamwow call center when the agent on the other end talks about your days at USC together, your common love of Golden Retrievers and oh by the way convinces you that you really do need to upgrade to the Shamwow super pack for ONLY $19.99 more?

If you think this day is far away think again, we are living it.