CRM and Big Data Fail

We keep hearing how Big Data is, or has, arrived. And we constantly hear about the importance of customer relationship management and CRM systems in particular and how they are transforming the relationship management process. This past week, I flew to Seattle to attend a very good IT conference and on the way up, I knew I was going to fly through my millionth mile on UAL. I was just a few thousand miles short and I knew it was happening on the leg from Denver to Seattle.

I wondered if, or how, or might UAL recognize the milestone? I wondered if they might approach you while on the flight and say,  “congratulations Mr. Brewer as this is your millionth mile flying with us. We are delighted to have you as a loyal customer.” Or perhaps when I landed there would be delightful little email from the Big Data engine at United recognizing that I just completed this milestone.

Well, nothing happened. I’ve still not heard a word.

I looked on-line to see my current status and here it is:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 8.48.10 AM

This is not rocket science and yet here is a fail example. Instead of creating a delightful experience, nothing has happened and an opportunity is lost. How trivial would it be to have the computer system send me an email automatically without a single person involved? A simple email notice after the key leg was completed? Or how about tying together my social media presence and send me a DM or a tweet saying something?  Or how amazing would it have been to have the flight attendant stop by and say something?

No offense intended to UAL as this happens everywhere and I’m sure United will send a note to me sometime.  Well, those are the kinds of things still to be done. Each company, organization, industry has their opportunities.

If you’ve had an amazing experience(a win) along these lines, I’d love to hear about it.

PS. I posted this at 16:21 today and around 17:45 @united followed me on Twitter and then about 17:52 @united sent the following:

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 6.08.35 PM

So clearly UAL’s social media team is on the ball. Kudos to them for watching and then responding. Well done.

4 thoughts on “CRM and Big Data Fail”

  1. 1 million miles is nothing to snub at. I’m sure there is a small percentage of flyers who ever reach that goal, so your sentiments are certainly not unfounded.

    An automated response with some kind of reward would be highly appropriate. After all, that’s what CRM is for! That’s the kind of thing that builds evangelism and increased loyalty. That kind of thing spreads, so it’s good their social team was on the ball and got to you at least after the fact.

    1. Thanks Brad. Yes an interesting interaction on social media. I wasn’t really taking a shot a ual as much as pointing there is still much that can be done.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. This is a great example because it shows that Big Data and CRM are not about data. The “automated email” can’t just spontaneously be sent, no matter how automated it is. It needs to be written, it needs to be programmed, but the most important thing – someone needs to make a decision that this email needs to be sent, and what should go into this email, and when exactly to send it. In short, nothing changed from the time data was “small”. This is the most common misconception that people have about the Big Data – that somehow the accumulation of data is going to result in the data making decisions of its own. It won’t. More likely, your program managers will get excited and distracted by all that data, and forget about the important things… like congratulating a customer on his million miles.

    1. Tanya,

      Good points. Agreed the accumulation of data is not going to result in decisions. My point was that it is possible to connect the dots in new and interesting ways. We are accumulating more and more data and organizations can enable new and interesting ways to do things and in particular, interact with customers. Even very simple things like what could have been done here might result in customers talking about it with others.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.


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