Feb 18, 2010

Digital amnesia or just don't care?

So imagine you're in a store and the shop assistant comes up to you and greets you then asks you what you're looking for.  You give them your name and tell them what you're after and hand over a few other bits of info too, like where you live and what you like.

The assistant looks you in the eye and listens to everything you say.  They make a note of everything and tell you that they're sure they can help you find that perfect product.  They tell you that they might not have anything right now but they'll send you a letter or catalogue the second they do.

You've had a conversation.  They've listened and taken notes.  You're happy they've taken the time.

Then you go home and get a letter from them a week or so later with their latest offers.

As you read, you realise that they must have made a mistake.  The letter you got must be someone else's, because not only does it list products that you're not interested in, it also features services and events in completely different geographical locations!

Surely this is a mistake right?  The shop assistant took all your details, they wrote them all down and even asked you to confirm it before they saved it.  They stored the information in a secure location and assured you that nobody else could touch it.

So why did they send you something that has no relevance to you at all?  Why did they bother to waste your time?

Why did they pretend to care?  Why did they lie? :(

You wouldn't put up with it in a bricks & mortar store, so why put up with it online?

Email marketers do this all the time - it's like a virus spreading throughout anyone that runs an e-commerce website.  Get as much info as you can - then ignore it... but get it anyway cause that's what we're supposed to do.

So here's a simple list of rules for anyone that wants to capture customer data.  4 very simple ideas that will get you thinking about how you treat customer information.

Data capture golden rules
  1. If you don't plan to use it, don't ask for it.
  2. All fields should be mandatory.  If it's not, don't ask for it.
  3. Validate client-side - in the fields as you go
  4. Verify server-side - by using confirmation pages and emails
Basically, don't pretend you care when you don't.  Nobody likes a liar.