Beware of the Cellophane Curtain
On the shelf next to the fax machine in my office sits a boxed piece of software called GOLDMINE, “The #1-Rated Contact Manager.” Copy on the box says it is “100% Internet Ready!” and “Designed for Microsoft Windows 95”, which gives you some idea of how long it’s been sitting there with its cellophane shrink-wrap still unbroken.
As someone who spent years sweating the advertising that was supposed to make a sale, this makes me heartsick. That’s because, I learned an important lesson along the way. It makes no difference how the application is delivered – it can be downloaded, shipped in a box, or delivered as a web service – it isn’t really sold until it’s unwrapped, installed, integrated into the buyer’s business process, and used regularly.
That is why we’ve just developed a Concierge Service to support our Longbow clients.
None of this has been an issue for the previous nine years at Loyalty Builders, because until Longbow came along, our services were customized, delivered 1:1, and paid for accordingly. Longbow, however, puts sophisticated customer analytics in the hands of marketers who’ll customize it for their own use and run it themselves. There’s one little problem though, and it’s not in the application.
We’ve discovered that the biggest barrier to getting started in analytics isn’t learning how to use the application. It’s in pulling together and preparing the data for analysis. Research shows that industry wide, this is by far the most time consuming task (see the chart below). So, going forward, each of our Longbow customers will be assigned a concierge whose job will be to navigate any rough patches (notably, finding and preparing data for upload and analysis) and getting the customer up and running as quickly as possible, so that the benefits of analytics begin flowing.
When a vendor gets caught behind the cellophane curtain, he or she has only made a fraction of the sale. There won’t be any sales of accessories. There won’t be any revenue from support or service contracts. There won’t be any terrific word-of-mouth, the most powerful, least expensive kind of advertising. There won’t be any upgrade revenue. Something like Concierge Service has to be offered.
New products change business processes. All sorts of hiccups can happen along the way. But if you can’t get rid of the hiccups you haven‘t really sold anything.
When Rexer Research asked respondents how they allocated time devoted to analytics, they confirmed our view: more time is devoted to accessing and preparing data (green area) than any other task.