Zero to hero – connecting data to make a difference

Jed Mole, European Marketing Director at Acxiom writes about his experience on buying an Amazon Echo Dot and how connected data should be every marketers' guiding star.

Jed Mole

Urban myths, war stories, and the stuff of legends: we all have them. In fact as the old adage goes, an unhappy customer will more than likely share a bad experience as opposed to a happy one, and these are the stories that can really impact brands. We may live in a world more direct and data-driven than ever before but when it comes to buying, and to allowing a company to have our data, having trust in the brand matters enormously. Amazon are one of the world’s largest retailers and here’s how they got it both, wrong and right this week.

Recently, I received an Amazon Echo Dot, a gift I viewed with intrigue and some suspicion. Ultimately, I got to thinking it was pretty cool but that was before my boys started tying it in knots with their wisecracking requests. I soon unplugged it!

But for Christmas, I thought they liked the little Echo Dot so much, so I bought one for them. I ordered one direct through Amazon and so began the waterfall of emails to let me know it had been dispatched, and within 48 hours, I had received it. Everything matched up in my account too, I could see it there and all was well; that is until they advertised it to me again.

These days, there’s little excuse for a brand to advertise you something you’ve already bought especially 30 percent cheaper! Talk about rubbing a customer’s nose in it. If I had bought the device from a high street store, not yet registered it with Amazon and seen an ad on a site where I was not logged in, I could be more forgiving. The reality is, today through identity resolution techniques such as data onboarding, it’s more possible than ever before to ensure the customer does not see an ad for something they’ve already bought. But here, surely there can be no excuse. I bought from Amazon on their site while I was logged in, they delivered it to me, then, while again logged in they effectively said ‘Hey, we either don’t know you’ve bought this from us or, we do know you’ve bought it from us and we’d like to annoy you by showing you it’s no longer £49.99 but £34.99.’ Of course, there’s no way Amazon would want to send that message and it is probably a case of recommending something you like, but from my perspective, that ad turned a great customer experience into a very poor one; all because of disconnected data and all entirely avoidable.

Frustrated, but busy with work and other preparations for Christmas I tried to ‘move on’. Then I found myself with a few minutes to spare thinking, ‘I wonder how easy it is to tell Amazon I think they’ve messed up and I’m unimpressed.’ What happened next really surprised me.

It took me perhaps three minutes in total to find the right ‘contact us’ section and send an email. Around ten minutes later, my phone rang. Yes, it was Amazon and they could not have been nicer or more helpful. Right from the off, the agent apologised and accepted the disconnect. He said I could, of course, return the item for a refund and buy a new one but he thought, a better way would be for him to refund the difference. He promised me his best efforts and within 20 minutes, the money had indeed been refunded. Great job Amazon. From frustrated to fairly flabbergasted and without doubt, fully satisfied in just over 30 minutes, my poor customer experience transformed into a first class one.

Today, our customer journeys are more complex than ever, I hardly need to labour the point. For us marketers, that means it’s not just our products or after service that needs to be great, it’s all points around and in-between. This is why siloes of data, siloes of technology and operations need to be connected. Data and technology siloes are not sexy marketing subjects but hardly any marketing discussions or debates don’t turn to this subject matter at some stage. Usually followed by people rolling their eyes, sighing and rubbing their furrowed brows.

We know they’re bad but it seems we just can’t help ourselves from creating them. Amazon is a company I admire overall and the above example is not to poke ridicule; as you saw, they did a great job in the end. My point is that we need to connect at the data layer, where the customer exists to ensure great companies with great brands and products deliver a great customer experience rather than one that’s flawed but could, these days, be flawless. Connected data should be every marketers’ guiding star this Christmas. Best wishes to you all.

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