Getting to know John

How well do you know your customers? The answer is important because it could mean the difference between success and failure…

By James Evelegh

Getting to know John
John. Photograph: Christian Buehner on Unsplash

Meet John. He’s actually one of your customers.

He subscribes to two of your titles, receives your e-newsletters and has bought some of your merchandise.

And the exciting thing is that there’s so much more you could sell to John, because he’s one of your best customers. He loves your stuff.

The only slight problem is that you don’t know that. Yes, John’s name and transaction details are dotted round your company like confetti, but none of the purchase lists are linked so you’ve no real idea how much John buys from you.

John also spends a lot of time on your websites, but because there is no login requirement, you don’t know that either.

Your marketing manager, Janet, keeps nagging you to update your database systems so she can, in her words, “get a handle on things”, but you manage to reassure her that your content is so good, sales will take care of themselves.

But Janet is worried. She’s heard on the grapevine that your main rival has just invested in some new audience software that pulls all purchase information into a single customer view and links it to the new login requirement they’ve introduced on their website.

Sadly, Janet has good reason to worry.

Previously, the rivals had not known much about John either, but they do now. They know what he likes to read on their website, how much money he’s spent with them, what he’s bought, when he bought it and, crucially, what he hasn’t yet bought. This information now informs every single communication they have with John.

For his part, John has noticed a distinct improvement in the service he gets from them. Much more attentive. The website has improved, almost like it’s been tailored to him; the welcome pack was a nice surprise, and he was pleased to hear about the special archive offer (with special introductory discount), he was chuffed by the birthday wishes and thrilled to be invited to the new subscriber-only get-togethers.

Sadly, from your perspective, he now spends pretty much all his time (and money) with them, not you. Because you never really knew him, you don’t take it personally. Anyway, you’ve got bigger things to worry about, like that puzzling downturn in year-on-year sales. Unrelated, surely…