Marketing Executives are very focussed on the acquisition of new customers and the sexiness of new products, but as online markets evolve the existing customer becomes more important because of the low cost to switching to another service.
The lack of consideration for existing customeers is commonly exhibited when one company takes over another company. The existing customers are usually treated to a data migration exercise which is delegated to the IT department without any thought being given to the user experience of the existing customer.
There is always an assumption that the data will be migrated on a 'like for like' basis, so the migration of customer data is treated as a mechanistic exercise that will have ne impact on the user experience.
Here are two personal examples of data migration exercises that have resulted in a user experience that is unacceptable.
What's in a name?
My name is Christopher McEvoy but I always use Chris as my informal first name.
Example 1 : Virgin Media
I was registered as "Chris McEvoy" with my cable TV provider Telewest. In 2007 Telewest was taken over by Virgin Media and was rebranded. As an existing customer the takeover only resulted in a different logo on my bills and a 'refreshed' marketing experience.
When I received my first communication from Virgin I noticed that my personalised letter started with "Dear Chirs" rather than "Dear Chris". My other personal details had not changed and were still correct, but it was obvious that some of my data had been rekeyed by a human being and 2 letters of my first name had been transposed.
Five years later I am still being greeted as Chirs and every communication reminds me of a company that managed its data migration in such a poor manner. I am left with the impression that Virgin Media does not have a very good attitude towards data quality. Their communications look very flashy and slick, but theie well designed brand communication are not underpinned by a quality data model.
Example 2 : Barclarcard
In April 2011 my Egg credit card was 'transferred' to Barclaycard. The first communication from Barclaycard started well as they greeted me as "Mr McEvoy". By December 2011 they decided they knew me well enough to greet ma as "Christophe" instead. When Barclaycard migrated my personal data from Egg they must have only allowed people to have 10 characters in their first name.
When a company migrates my personal data in such a lazy manner, it leaves me with the impression that they don't really care about me as an individual customer and they couldn't care less if they refer to me as "Chris McEvoy" or "Cash Cow #265783".
People responsible for the user experience in these organisations need to start thinking about the quality of the personal data they use (or mis-use) in these account migration exercises.