“The goal of identifying customers refers not so much to figuring out which customers we want (that comes later) – but to recognizing each customer as that customer each time we come in contact with him/her, and then linking those different data points to develop a full picture of each particular customer.”
- Managing Customer Relationships, Peppers and Rogers
Identifying customers is not an easy task, but it is the first step in creating superior customer relationship strategies. The heart and soul of relationship marketing is treating different customers differently and to do this a business needs to know one customer from another. Companies business models and channel structure more often than not, does not allow for all companies to collect customer data. Many B2B consumer products only get customer data when they sign-up for warrantees or promotional contests.
Steps companies can take to identify customers are:
1. Take an inventory of all customer data available
2. Find customer-identifying information that is on file
3. Get customers to identify themselves
4. Identify the behavioural, attitudinal and demographic data
A tactic to start collecting data is through frequency marketing where an enterprise rewards its customers with points, discounts, merchandise, or other incentives in exchange for a customer to continue to buy (i.e. loyalty marketing). Frequency marketing programs can give a firm the ability to link interactions and transactions to a customer. Businesses need to be cautious of a parity strategy, where the entire loyalty program is to simply give discounts with points and/or prizes. Loyalty will be based on price and not on emotional.
Identifying activities need to define the identify, discover a means to collect, link, integrate, recognize, store, update and analyze the data to make it securely available to various functional units within an organizations.
Being able to analyze data through databases gives analysts the ability to identify patterns that are not possible when the information is in silos.
Customer development for B2B enterprise has many similarities to B2C development but with some differences. Primarily, who will sign off on the sale? All parts of the deal/negotiations need to be considered.
Ultimately what a company wants is to establish a fluid real time collection of data, or zero latency - no lag time required - in the collection of data. A firm needs to be able to accomplish a learning relationship over the lifetime of the vendor-customer journey, and to do that a firm needs to be able to identify their customers every time there is an interaction.