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Do Your Customer Interactions Cross The Line?

Customer Interaction Tips

A study by Ofcom found that we spend 45% of our waking hours on media and communication, and about 30 % using mobile phones and social media specifically to communicate. Every time you turn on your cell phone, search the Internet or participate in a loyalty program, you are leaving a trail that gives marketers access to valuable information about you.

Big data has given retailers unprecedented amounts of data about their customers, in real time. Already, 30% of consumers say loyalty programs require too much personal information and 24% would not enrol due to privacy concerns. With this in mind, retailers need to ensure that they are careful in how they use this data to ensure that their customer interactions are clever, not creepy.

Here are 4 tips to guide your next customer interaction.

1. Be transparent with customers.

When a customer engages with you through a loyalty vehicle, be very clear that you will be using the information they have provided to you in order to provide value added services to them. If you are planning to go beyond using the information they have given you directly, tell them. Don’t leave it to the customer to intuitively figure it out.

Clever: A customer signs up for a grocery loyalty program. By providing their loyalty card, the grocer knows the customer’s purchasing history and shopping behaviour. The retailer sends out an email asking the customer if they’d like to see some recipe ideas. The customer agrees, and the retailer sends recipes based on the customer’s frequently purchased items.

Creepy: The customer has not engaged with the retailer beyond joining the program, but receives an email on their mobile device in-store with a suggested recipe based on personal information (i.e: number of family members) and real-time purchasing behaviour (i.e: the customer should purchase the feta on a nearby counter to make the recipe).

2. Customer interactions should be intuitive.

As retailers learn more about their consumers through big data analysis, predictive modelling and the customer’s electronic trail, customer interactions become less obvious to the customer.

Clever: A retailer examines a customer’s past purchases and send them regular coupons for a weekly purchased item (i.e: unscented baby wipes).

Creepy: A retailer sends the customer a coupon for unscented baby wipes while the customer is browsing in-store, and mentions the baby’s name.

3. Use ONLY the customer data you are given.

With the amount of data available, it’s easy for retailers to take consumer data freely given and start down the rabbit hole. It is a noble objective to try to engage with your customers as individuals rather than someone from within a group of like customers. But, it’s also easy to take too big a leap and become too intimate with a loyal customer. The data customers give directly is rich. Most retailers do not do use this data enough and rush to try to build loyalty through more intimate communications. Treating your customers like an acquaintance that you see regularly rather than your best friend with whom you share everything is a good rule of thumb.

4. Prioritize engagements so you don’t over communicate.

As retailers are provided with more and more data in real time, there is an urge to leap whenever we see a ‘hot’ selling opportunity. With predictive modelling and real time data analysis, retailers see opportunities to close a sale. Consider the case of a consumer that recently purchased a new television. The customer could also have been searching online for surround sound systems or other accessories.

Clever: Using predictive modelling, the retailer sends the customer an email that outlines the parts required to set-up a surround sound system. A discount is included for some of the cables.

Creepy: The retailer taps into the customer’s cellular data to show that they are shopping for a specific model in-store or online. The retailer sends the customer an offer on the model, including the locations of nearby aisles where they can find accessories.

As you build your strategy for consumer communication, think about the line between clever and creepy. Using these simple principles to stay on the right side will help build your consumer engagement.


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