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One Small Step for Marketers, One Giant Leap for Customer Intimacy

Years ago, back when the concept of customer intimacy sounded like something that could get you fired, I was fighting an uphill battle trying to get merchants to understand something a lot less sexy: The power of customer data.

I recall one presentation, when a skeptical retail executive scoffed at my results. “So,” he asked, “how many of our customers were captured in this study? Two hundred, 500 or 1,000?” I told him: “Six hundred and eighty-nine thousand, three hundred and seventy-one.”

There was a long and awkward silence, but step-by-step we got past that rather uncomfortable meeting. And over time I helped him spearhead an initiative that fundamentally changed his company’s go-to-market strategy.

Twenty years later, that merchant and I are still working together. But the landscape has changed markedly. Today, loyalty is a multi-billion-dollar, global industry spanning most every industry from finance to fuel stations to deal-a-day clubs. Our old-fashioned efforts to convince marketers about the power of data have been replaced by concerns of data privacy. And customers have much higher expectations regarding the value exchange that occurs when they share information.

And here I am, blogging about it. Twenty years ago, if someone told me I’d be blogging about customer intimacy, I’m not sure what I’d think. How times change.

But I do hope, in this blog, to address some of the most pressing changes and issues involving customer intimacy. My sincere desire is that I do not do this alone. The power of customer data is much greater today, but achieving customer intimacy can still be an uphill battle if the information is not used properly. It takes a leap of faith in your ability to trust the data and its capabilities. And it takes a leap in how you operate your company, from one that may be focused on products or services to one that puts the customer at the heart of its purposes.

I welcome all of your thoughts, opinions and ideas as we venture, together, down this path.

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