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GOOGLING CUSTOMERS

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It's now common practice for organizations to put details of their product or service on a website so that potential can see what is on offer. However, could the role be switched - with businesses going online to check up on customers? Now, this might be fairly common practice in B2B environments [would you despatch goods on credit without checking out the customer first?], but it could have a positive role in B2C trading - particularly service provision.

What I'm thinking of is looking up customers to see if there is anything on the web that might help you meet the needs of a customer better. Of course, this depends on the customer having something about them online, but in the days of personal websites, blogs and social media content [Facebook and the like] many folk do have a web presence. And if they did there might just be something that helps you make your organization stand out in a crowded marketplace.

An example might be a hotel putting a visitor's details into a search engine when they confirm a booking - then attempting to match up the service to the customer's preference. A football fan might find them self in a room where the decor matches their favourite team's colours. Or a balcony that overlooks a local park because the guest is a keen gardener. Even more speciic, if someone's blog complains of poor service they have received elsewhere you can make sure you offer exemplorary service in that specific aspect of their stay. If you already run some kind of CRM system adding 'search' information might help personalize any data held on that system.

A little off-the-wall perhaps, and rather hit-and-miss - but for the effort involved it can make a good service into an outstanding one. And don't forget, if the customer is used to writing things on their blog or MySpace homepage, they are likely to extol your virtues online in forums or review sites.

And finally ... where did the idea come from? Elsewhere in my musings I make the point that I think that there is nothing new in marketing on the web - well, this is another example. Good sales reps, for example, will research a customer before they meet so that any pre-sales conversation can take in interests of that customer - or at least what to avoid. If I were still in sales I might use a search engine to find out anything that would help me make a sale.

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