Accelerating Loyalty with Data-Powered Conversations


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The acronym “VRM” may make you think of a fast-moving, industry-accelerating concept, but when I read the meaning behind the term, the first word I thought of was “stall.”

Not that VRM, which stands for Vendor Relation Management, is a bad idea – it makes a lot of sense in many ways. But when it comes to customer engagement and loyalty, I think it is a bit shortsighted.

VRM, as described in a recent story in Marketing Tech, occurs when marketers “stop watching consumers and listen instead to the intentionally broadcast expressions of what they want.” In other words, instead of using our data to watch what customers do and then calculate what they want – basically, targeting customers – we should use their data to respond to specific requests, quickly.

These requests would come directly from the consumer. He or she would announce the desire to purchase a washing machine, life insurance policy or cruise ship tickets and businesses would respond with their proposals. The customer can then pick the vendor of choice.

The logic behind this approach is that by putting the consumer in control of the brand relationships, we can eliminate advertising (or targeting) waste all together. It is, as the author describes it, “CRM flipped on its head.” Or, “Big Data-powered conversations, between the customer and business.”

The challenge I see with this concept, from the perspective of loyalty and engagement, is that it proposes we should only be prospective when the customer wants something. But as many companies can tell you, including those that create new products for unknown needs (Swiffer, anyone?), consumers also are open to suggestion.

As long as there is an expressed exchange, and an enduring one over time, I believe consumers would in fact look for companies to make content personalization a part of their ongoing communications. Going toward a demand-only model doesn’t account for the fact that in any “relationship” there has to be two-way communication, an exchange, an interactive interaction!

So while the idea of “Big Data-powered conversations” makes a lot of sense, limiting the initiation of that conversation to one party limits the opportunity. It also brings to mind a quote by Mark Twain: “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”

Amen. And let’s not stall about it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bryan Pearson
Retail and Loyalty-Marketing Executive, Best-Selling Author
With more than two decades experience developing meaningful customer relationships for some of the world’s leading companies, Bryan Pearson is an internationally recognized expert, author and speaker on customer loyalty and marketing. As former President and CEO of LoyaltyOne, a pioneer in loyalty strategies and measured marketing, he leverages the knowledge of 120 million customer relationships over 20 years to create relevant communications and enhanced shopper experiences. Bryan is author of the bestselling book The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information into Customer Intimacy


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