Companies are in a constant state of courtship. Though each first encounter may only be brief, they must put forth much effort to nurture that initial spark and kindle the potential flame. Each customer represents another chance to develop a long-term relationship, but communications often only come in intermittent bursts at first. If that first transaction proves positive, the brand in question may just warrant a repeat purchase--maybe even lifetime loyalty if all goes well!But, for many companies, issues arise when it comes to gathering personal information. Often times, the point of sale is also the point of data collection. Though the customer may be wrapping up that particular brand interaction, the company in question hopes to continue the relationship well into the future. Many ask for the customer's name and number, but it's what they do with this information afterward that determines whether the relationship truly has staying power or not.
In Marchai Bruchey's case, sharing her personal data did not enable the company to reach out proactively and establish rapport. Instead, this brand broke the bonds of trust that could've led to a solid future with the chief customer officer at Thunderhead.com:
"About 10 years ago I applied for one of the store credit cards--the type where they give you 20 percent off the first purchase and will then continue to send you great coupons. When they sent me the card, the store clerk had misspelled my name and added an additional letter to the end. Normally, I wouldn't be bothered by this, but within a couple of days, I started receiving direct mail pieces from several companies with my name spelled with that same additional letter on the end. They had obviously sold my information from the credit card application to other marketers. I immediately cancelled the credit card and shared with them my displeasure of their selling my information without my consent. The funny thing is I still get advertisements with that misspelled name to this day."
By betraying the trust Bruchey invested when she applied for the credit card, this company severed all ties with this potentially valuable customer. Though transparency has become a staple for success, this company was not open and honest about how they would use her information in the future. Such actions cross the line and negate any positive impressions the customer may have, often prompting the customer to take to social media to share their experience and warn friends and family.
Companies must be sure that the relationship building strategies they have in place trickle down to every aspect of the customer experience. Personal information is precious, powerful, and a privilege to collect. If brands do not care for this sensitive data with the respect it deserves, then they should expect customers to take their potential lifetime value somewhere more reliable, for it is the company that will hurt most in the long run.