A Plea For 2014: Focus On Getting The Basics Right When It Comes To Dealing With Your Customers

Reflecting on 2013 (as one does on the last the day of the year …), I’m struck by how much I seem to be living in two parallel universes: a promised land of appropriately targeted marketing, personalized offerings, courteous and efficient customer service, timely and accurate information – you get the picture; and the real world, in which the gap between the promise and what’s being delivered seems, if anything, to be widening.

Admittedly, my research focus on business intelligence, analytics and big data no doubt heightens my awareness, as I’m forever looking for signs that the technologies that are available have actually been deployed. Sadly, a lot of the time I find that even companies with flagship projects involving advanced analytics manage to undo much of the good work by falling down on something very basic, such as getting my name right, or knowing which products I’ve actually purchased.

In case my point needs proving, I’ll start by taking a light-hearted look at a few examples of what I’m talking about, before suggesting a few New Year’s resolutions to all those companies whose claims about customer-centricity and superior service are being contradicted by reality:

  • The major UK retailer which keeps addressing me as “Mr”, has repeatedly assured me that the matter has been addressed, and which resorts to offering me flowers when I point out – again – that all my mailings are still addressed to “Mr Bennett”. Almost enough to give me an identity crisis.
  • The global bank whose customer I’ve been since 1997, but which I’ve been unable to convince for a number of years now that there is only one Martha Bennett. Definitely enough to give me an identity crisis!
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New European Data Privacy Laws: Another Twist In The Tale

Many organizations will have been relieved to find that the implementation of the update to existing European data privacy laws, the EU Data Protection Regulation, has been postponed. Adoption of the Regulation is now scheduled for 2015, which means it’ll be 2017 (possibly end of) before it’s actually applicable.

At least, that’s what it looks like. In typical fashion, the official document released after the European Council meeting in Brussels on Oct 25th is the result of much political horse-trading, and avoids specificity on any matters where agreement is lacking. As a result, one has to rely on a variety of third party sources in order to piece the story together. In a nutshell, a number of countries felt that the process for finalizing the EU Data Protection Regulation should be slowed down. The UK and Germany in particular argued that further consideration was required, albeit not for the same reasons: on the British side, concerns were more on the potential adverse impact on business of very stringent rules, whereas Germany wants to ensure that all required safeguards are in place.

Those who are rejoicing over the postponement shouldn’t pop the champagne corks yet, though. While the extra time is no doubt welcome, headlines such as “Victory for tech giants on EU data laws” are premature: nothing is finalized, and there is still the chance that the final version is rather more restrictive than many would hope.

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