Customer Intelligence Lessons from the movie “50 First Dates”


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“Can I have one last first kiss?” – Lucy Whitmore, 50 First Dates


Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), a marine life veterinarian living in Hawaii, meets Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrimore), an art teacher, in a café one morning. They hit it off and agree to meet in the café the next morning, the following day, however, Lucy claims not to know Henry.

Something very similar happened with Robert Scoble – a tech industry celebrity and the author of the famous blog Scobleizer, which came into prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. His is a very interesting story about his experiences with the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay, CA. Robert lives right down the street from the Ritz. By his own admission, he frequents the hotel quite a bit for dinner, drinks, or just hanging out and relaxing with his wife to watch the sunset. Yet it seems, despite all his visits, that the Ritz has little knowledge of him as a person.

The problem is that the Ritz operates four different computer systems (one for the spas, one for the hotel itself, one for the main restaurant, and one for the smaller restaurant) of which none speak to each other. “It’s like having a friend and starting over every time you meet.” very much like Henry, the protagonist of 50 first dates.

“Imagine going to dinner at a friend’s house and the next day them not remembering anything about you or the night before! That’s what my experience with the Ritz is like.” said Robert. What makes it worse is that when Robert visits the Ritz in London—there is no connection between the two properties other than name—they have no idea he has a long history with the brand through the Half Moon Bay property.

Apparently Lucy was suffering from anterograde amnesia (called ‘Goldfield Syndrome’ in the movie), was Ritz having the same trouble?? OOPS…

But the Ritz knowing more about Robert (“Welcome back, Robert, can we get you another glass of that 2014 Glasshaus Sonoma Coast Chardonnay you so enjoyed last Thursday?”), in fact any organization knowing more about its customers, is just a technology problem, right? Because we have Big Data now, we have countless gigabytes of information about when customers shop and what they buy and what they look at. However only that is not the solution to the Ritz’s problem or to your understanding of your customers. Why? Because big data doesn’t give us a sense of who those customers really are, as people. The data does not tell us that one customer likes to have long, drawn out conversations about their cat while another just wants to get some information and “exit stage left.”

The first step to really understand your customers is to recognize that they all don’t want the same thing. They have different needs not just depending upon their stage in the buying cycle, but depending upon them as people.

The second step is accepting one simple fact—that all of marketing, that all of engagement with any audience, anywhere, is about building and managing relationships. Every kind of connection you have with your customers and prospects, whether it’s a simple passing of information, the purchase of a product, or a deep and meaningful conversation via Facebook, represents some kind of relationship.

This relationship can be –

Positive – you gave them what they wanted, how they wanted and when they wanted, or

Negative – they couldn’t find what they were looking for and you are now known as the “company that doesn’t have X”, or

Fleeting – a brief love or hatred that is forgotten in 10 minutes, or

Long Lasting – for you, with you ALWAYS….

…Always remember everything you do with your digital audience establishes, destroys or reinforces a relationship. Businesses are shifting from B2B or B2C to being H2H – Human to Human and a Human centred customer experience is the need of the hour.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates

Rohit Yadav
Axtria Inc
Rohit Yadav is a customer experience evangelist helping companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and generate insights to improve their customer experience. Rohit is a regular writer on technology, analytics and customer centricity for various leading forums like KDnuggets, Data Science Central, CX Journey, Analytics India Magazine, and


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