If you know me, you know I'm a frequent flyer of one of the major airlines in the world. I’ve spent many years and many miles flying with it. The company should know a lot about me, right? At the most minimalistic level, it should know my name and my phone number. And sometimes it does. But when it doesn’t, it’s the most confusing and baffling thing.

Who's Calling?

Not long ago, my provider of #upintheair journeys implemented a new system for its frequent flyer member services. It’s nice. I call the magic number and a magic man says in a soothing voice and nicely-neutrally-accented American English: “Hello, Irina. Welcome back. What can I do for you today?”

You see, as long as I call from my mobile phone, the company knows it’s me. I don’t need to fat-finger in my frequent flyer number, or go through nine rounds of hell with voice systems that don’t always understand my cute Russian accent, or wait for hours on end to get to my latest reservation. It’s a nice approach to the first round of customer support, which is indeed one of the foundational elements of any CXM strategy.

So far so good, right? But this is where the pesky details and lack of attention to them can ruin the deal. And I don’t mean the company's constant email campaigns asking me to upgrade to Economy Comfort, when it knows all too well that I am flying in business class.

  • Or the fact that the website can never seem to remember my meal preferences, even though I have entered that info a million times.
  • Or the fact that it fails to transfer my customer information across its universe of airline partners.
  • Or the fact that even though the experience is supposed to be multichannel, I cannot do all the things in the mobile app that I can do online.

CXM Breakdown

For me, the CXM failure came from a comparatively little annoyance. After the “Welcome back, Irina,” I chose not to stay on (an excruciatingly painful) hold and decided to chose the “We will call you back” option.

The CXM chain broke yet again: I was asked by a cold, automated system voice to provide my name, my number and the best time to call. And I had to punch in that info on my call-in-progress interface in my smart phone. Imagine the irony: when I call them, they know me. But when they call me, they don’t know me?

You see -- it’s the little details that matter, too. Not just your overall grand and shiny CXM strategy and lie-flat seats. In isolation, this incident didn’t necessarily aggravate me enough to jump on flying a different airline, but it made me wonder. Why don’t they *know* me, if they know me so well?

In this particular case, I am not even talking about any sophisticated personalization strategies.

The Little Things

To do personalization well, you really need to understand who your audience is. And while it sounds simple in theory, it has proven to be a difficult task for many organizations.

Then, you also need to make sure you have created relevant content for each segment of your audience to keep them interested and engaged — or that you are upselling relevant products to customers who have bought from you in the past, and not just any new product that you have in the inventory. Upselling the wrong types of products will only lead to alienation of your audience.

Step away for a second from the sophistication of the process I outlined above (or the topic of big data and the mounds of information you gather about your customers, even if you don’t know yet how to use it). Let’s start with simply making sure we know who our customers are — at least by name, phone number, email address or some other type of unique identifier. What you can do in your CXM strategy from here may go a long way.

Title image by Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com