…Well I haven’t. I find that the moment that I let a brand make friends with me it becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious and a damn nuisance. And I find the moment I make friends with a brand I become selfish and tyrannical. So here I am a confirmed old customer with no loyalties, and likely to remain so.

As consumers, many of us would agree with Professor Higgins’ sentiment in My Fair Lady if only he were talking about marketing as opposed to women!

All too often we engage with a brand with great anticipation and enthusiasm in the hope that our endeavours will lead to a long and lasting relationship built on a foundation of mutual understanding and trust. The brutal reality is that we are bombarded with emails sometimes on a daily basis asking why we have not been back to the site (the jealous part), are requested to use a specific discount code to purchase a particular product (exacting) are tracked and every bit of interaction is recorded (the suspicious bit) and spammed to death with push notifications and irrelevant email (the damn nuisance part!). In return we as consumers expect a personalised experience (this is us being selfish) and demand a better deal or discount (us being tyrannical).

Much like an immature relationship the above is full of friction and is a recipe for disaster or worse, our first purchase may well be our one and only with said brand – a bit like a one night stand, leaving us feeling cheap, unfulfilled and perhaps even shameful if the product was not up to standard!

That being said, things are changing. I work with a number of brands who are desperately trying to change the way in which they foster and maintain their relationships with the consumer and credit to them. Its not easy, but the rewards are well worth the effort, much like a marriage!

The key in my humble opinion is to listen. Sadly its not always a two way relationship in the conventional sense. The brand needs to listen to its customers and just as much to itself. It needs to understand what a customer has done in previous interactions before deciding upon what to say in future interactions to ensure consistency of tone, message, product and approach and above all to ensure that it too is listened to in return.

This is easier said than done when there are multiple channels, devices and not to mention the fact that word gets around very quickly, not about the consumers extra marital affairs (where the customer buys from competing brands at the same time!) but about how the brand has treated the customer through social, a bad reputation is hard to shake off.

Help is at hand and the complexities associated with managing disparate data silos (the brand’s black book of customers – or rather multiple instances of it, each with different details!) are gradually becoming less challenging. Companies such as  Adobe have made great strides towards improving the workflows associated with managing their digital activities and have developed a single customer view which enables brands to communicate more effectively and accurately with their customers and deliver on the promise of a personalised experience that’s relevant and consistent irrespective of channel or device.

As you ramp up to what is for many of you the busiest period of the year, think about your new year’s resolution and consider making a promise to yourself and to your spouse (your customers!) to be more engaging, interesting and show a personal touch. If you want to know how, get in touch and together we can transform you from being just an “ordinary brand” as Higgins would refer to you, should he be talking about marketing of course!