greg bustin Connecting with Your Customers, Longhorn cuff links, big data

The Value of Connecting with Your Customers

August 12th, 2016  | 

Published in Customer Service

Big Data, Small Touches

If you’re a road warrior like me, you appreciate the little things that make business travel tolerable.

I travel on business a couple of times every month, usually for two or three nights away from home per trip for speaking gigs and to facilitate strategic planning sessions.

As a frequent flyer, being expedited through airport security on my Global Entry pass is helpful. Being greeted by name as a returning hotel guest is appreciated. And having the ability to make last-minute flight changes and arrive home earlier when my schedule allows is a rewarding way to treat an airline’s most loyal customers.

Are You Collecting Data?

The conveniences I’ve described happen because we are asked for—and we provide—to airlines, hotels, car rental companies and others information about ourselves.

All of these little bits of info add to what’s now called Big Data.

Most of the companies I work with operate in the world of business-to-business. These B2B companies can count their customers in the hundreds instead of in the hundreds of thousands and millions like companies selling to consumers.

Yet the vast majority of B2B companies admit to me that their customer databases are not up-to-date, well organized or able to provide useful information at the touch of a button.

Do you collect data about your customers? What shape is it in?

What Are You Doing With It?

Collecting the data, making sure it’s current and keeping it organized is only the beginning.

Why? Because the data is worthless if you’re not using it to create stronger connections with your customers.

My hotel of choice is Marriott.

Recently, I checked into one their flagship properties. I had taken a late afternoon flight to Houston and arrived just in time to battle rush hour traffic. Upon arriving at the downtown hotel, I was greeted by name at check-in and then upgraded to a nicer room. Sweet.

When I walked into my hotel room, there was a bottle of wine, a personalized card from the hotel manager, and—get this—a pair of Longhorn cufflinks.

I was impressed. I counted on Marriott’s database to confirm that I am among their elite customers, and the complimentary bottle of wine was certainly a nice touch.

But I was totally blown away that someone from Marriott had taken the initiative to look at their records of me and determine that I am a graduate of the University of Texas.

The cufflinks are nice. And they’re just in time for the start of Longhorn Football. But what really impressed me was the thoughtfulness and energy to convert big data into a personal, meaningful experience.

Could your company have done that?

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises leaders of some of the world’s most admired companies, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of organizations in a range of industries. Through his strategic planning facilitation, keynote speaking, workshops and leadership development work with peer advisory boards, Bustin helps CEOs and other key executives maximize their individual performance and, in the process, the performance of their organizations. Bustin is the author of four leadership books, including Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill).