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A cautionary tale of disconnected customer data

Have you ever had a positive brand experience that suddenly took a turn for the worse and left you questioning your loyalty to that brand?

Chances are, your answer is yes. After all, 87% of marketing pros say customer experience is important—but only 24% say they’re knocking it out of the park.

Recently, I had an experience that left me scratching my head and knocked me a few steps backward on my customer journey with that brand. Here’s what happened and why it matters:

The story starts with my summertime happy place: On my motorboat, fishing, anchoring off a beach, swimming with my family and friends.

Before this summer kicked off, I got an email suggesting I renew my boat insurance.

My outboard was getting a bit long in the tooth, and while it still runs well, there’s always a chance that Murphy’s Law will pay a visit and the boat will stall. If that happens, a tow can get rather pricey. If I did need a tow, the insurance would be worth the annual renewal.

So I bought the insurance. And knowing the age of my boat, I chose the option that included unlimited towing.

Fast-forward six weeks into the season and four or five trips on the boat. My cousins were up from Texas and we took to the water to cool off.

About five minutes into the ride, my alarm gives the signal that the engine is overheating. My first thought? I was glad I received that insurance renewal notice.

I tuned my ship-to-shore to channel 16 and radioed for help. The tow service showed up about 25 minutes later and took my passengers (who had to catch a flight home) back to the dock while I remained anchored with the boat, awaiting their return. Thirty minutes later, they were back. I pulled up the email with my account number to share with them and we headed back to shore.

To say this experience with my boat insurance provider was a positive one would be an understatement. We were stranded in the ocean. My relatives were concerned about missing their flight. And they rescued us. They were courteous, incredibly helpful, and our sense of relief when it took just 25 minutes for them to get to us was palpable.

Two days later, they sent me a survey asking about my experience with the insurance provider. I was happy they asked and overwhelmingly positive about my experience. I told them I was glad I renewed my subscription just six weeks prior.

And that’s when the wheels fell off the bus.

Two days later, I got an email from the same company (yes, the one I still subscribe to) with the subject line “Does your boat insurance company leave you stranded?”

Talk about a disconnected customer experience. The company I’d just had an overwhelmingly positive experience with, who I filled out a positive survey for just two days ago was now marketing to me like we didn’t know each other.

And this is what happens when marketing and CRM channels are utterly disconnected. I was a happy customer moving into the advocacy stage in my relationship with their brand. And now I was just bewildered. How could the company not connect the dots of who I am? They have no idea that I am (was?) a delighted customer?

It left me questioning their competency and our relationship.

I suspect we’ve all had experiences like this.

The good news is that companies that are adopting a CDP strategy are moving away from this kind of misstep. They’re connecting all their data in one place to avoid this kind of disjointed experience.

Had my boat insurance company used a CDP, the email to me might have read something like:

“We’re so happy to hear about your positive experience with our service! Would you be willing to share your story as a customer testimonial?”

The answer would have been a resounding “yes” from me.

Instead, they’ve got me questioning my loyalty and worrying about their record-keeping.

Don’t bewilder your customers

If you’re reading this and thinking “oh dear, that disjointed experience sounds like my company,” it’s probably time to do something about it. After all, 74% of customers say they’d leave a company after a bad customer experience. And none of us can afford that kind of turnover.

So, where do you start? The answer is a best-in-class CDP. Download the Guide: Personalization at Scale: 1:1 Marketing to the Million. We’d love to show you how.