When it comes to reading books, I am a hold-out of the past era. I have tried reading books on Kindle, iPad and a couple other formats – and have always reverted to reading the old-fashioned way…with a book in my hand. I made it a point to go to Barnes & Noble today, and buy a book from the local store. This is my first purchase from the store in over 2 years. I have been a “member” with them in the past, and used to buy regularly, but in the last two years, I have been buying with the one-click convenience on Amazon. But today was different. I wanted to buy it from the store.
Why? Because we would like them to survive. Our 18-month old goes there for toddler story-time a couple times a week. He looks forward to that play time with other kids and the stories that Rose reads for them. We appreciate the investment that Barnes & Noble is making in our community – and we want them to survive.
We all have our preferences and idiosyncrasies. Some of us want to buy local from neighborhood stores/ farmers markets, while others want to go organic (Trader Joes/ Whole Foods); while others believe in a flat world and the survival of the fittest (Walmart/ Target). Whether we realize this or not, a lot of us end up doing business with a bank, auto insurance, health insurance – who aligns with your values and provides a good value proposition.
This got me thinking. I went to Barnes & Noble because I wanted to buy there. But what if Barnes & Noble wanted me to buy there? Here are the facts:
- They knew a child from our family goes there twice a week (he is registered)
- The family had a membership and purchased a reasonable number of products in the past
- The family had dropped off the radar and are no longer shopping here
What if B&N had been able to piece this information together? What if they had sent out an email asking us to return? What if they had sent a coupon with the toddler with a welcome back note?
The paradigm would have shifted from being reactive to being proactive. So what does this mean for consumer oriented businesses?
- How do you piece information that resides within your siloe’d organization to win customers? How do you move from a transactional oriented world to a relationship-oriented world? Wouldn’t it be great if an airline were able to look at a loyalty club member at check in and provide an upgrade because their bag went to a different destination last time round?
- We are all leaving digital footprints as we live our lives today. How do you piece together this information so that you can provide a unique value proposition that makes you an integral part of your customers’ lives?
These are new things – and to be sure, pretty difficult to accomplish. However, the ramifications can be winning and retaining customers…or losing them. Building this infrastructure will be a journey – one that will mean defining a strategy, and making investments.
I will write about consumer engagement maturity model in one of my upcoming blogs in the near future. I am hopeful that will provide some of the building blocks for having a discussion around charting this journey. Building a strategy and executing to it may very well mark the next set of winners.