Don’t use your data this way

bad-hr-analytics-dataLast week, I wrote a post titled Big Data Starts with Data Management. In that post, I wrote:

Starting with data management will help mitigate these risks since a good data management approach allows organizations to keep data quality in mind from the beginning of a big data project.

Data management is a key aspect of big data projects. There’s no doubt about that.

Today, I want to share a real-world story of one company that has poor (or perhaps no) data management processes and how the lack of good processes could potentially push clients away.

This story starts in 1996 when I purchased a 1995 Chevrolet Blazer. I took the Blazer into a local GM dealer for service a few times in 1997.

Now – fast-forward to March 2014. One evening, I check my email and notice the following email:

We want to welcome you as a Preferred Email Customer of _____ Chevrolet. Thank you for letting us send periodic emails regarding your 1995 Blazer. In the future, we would like to send you emails that will include safety related recalls, service reminders and special offers from _____ Chevrolet that only our Preferred Email Customers will receive.

I was quite surprised when I first saw this email. First, I no longer own the Blazer; I traded that Blazer in for a Camaro in 1999. Second, after thinking for a minute and looking at the dealership, I realized it was the same dealership that I had taken my Blazer to the dealership in ‘97.

Here we have a dealership who’s just taken some initiative to build a ‘preferred’ email customer list and start to reach out to those clients. Great idea, but poor execution.

There’s a real problem with their approach though. They’ve done very little in terms of data management. They’ve taken a few pieces of disparate data from their client database and stuffed them into an email.

This isn’t how you use data. You don’t just take data, throw it into an email system and blast your clients or ex-clients. You’ll do nothing but annoy.

Data management processes would help here. With the proper management systems and processes in place, this organization wouldn’t have just dumped old data into an email system. They would have had processes in place to ensure the data would be as accurate as possible. They would have also had systems in place to ensure that any data that is used to contact clients would be cleansed and updated to ensure that clients want to be updated.

This particular organization is trying to reach out to clients, but they have used old, outdated data. When I read their email I immediately thought that this dealership had no clue how to do proper client outreach. They had no clue how to ‘clean’ their data or manage that data to ensure they were only reaching out using accurate email lists.

Data management isn’t always THE answer, but for this particular problem, it will help. Proper data management systems and processes are critical for every organization today. Don’t let your organization look as bad as this car dealership did. Make sure you’ve got proper data management processes and systems in place.

Pointing Fingers, Placing Blame…and losing customers

[Social Media Week] E se fossero i Social Media ad usare Voi? By Simone Lovati on flickrA few months ago, I joined the popular photography website 500px (you can see my portfolio here).

500px is a great website and has become a very popular destination and portfolio site for photographers with many folks proclaiming it as aserious challenger to flickr.

In addition to its great layout, design and feature set when 500px is compared to flickr, one of the interesting aspects of the 500px service is the ‘storefront’. This storefront allows a photographer to allow their photographs to be listed for sale using the FotoMoto service, which provides a fairly seamless way of adding a shopping cart to a portfolio of images.

FotoMoto has approached the market differently than others in the field of image printing and logistics. I don’t know of another service like FotoMoto where you host images yourself using whatever technology you’d like and then integrate the FotoMoto javascript into your website. Its a very interesting approach and different that competitors like SmugMug and Zenfolio.

The only complaint I have about FotoMoto is this – it isn’t seamless to the user. While most of the eCommerce activity (adding a photo to a cart, etc)  takes place on your site (or the 500px portfolio in this case), there is a lot of FotoMoto branding involved. In addition, the final checkout is performed through the FotoMoto website and the logistics are then handled by them completely.  Not a bad thing…but sometimes not ideal if you want to control the customer experience from start to finish.

That said, I do like the service provided. Its clean, easy to use and fairly straightforward.  Although I don’t use it on 500px, it is  a valuable offering to users. Or…it was a valuable offering.

The dreaded Finger Pointing

Yesterday, I received an email from 500px stating that the 500px / FotoMoto integration is coming to and end.  A copy of the email in its entirety is below.

Changes to the Store

Dear friends,

First of all, let me say a huge thanks to all of you — without you none of this would have been possible. This year 500px has seen tremendous growth and development, and although the ride was bumpy at times, our dedicated team members always stood behind the platform, solved the most challenging problems and did their best to offer our users the best experience possible.

There are many exciting things planned, you will see them live on the site in the nearest future.

One of the most requested changes is coming very soon — we are completely redesigning and redeveloping the photo store experience on 500px. The current 500px photo stores, provided by our partner Fotomoto, are not ideal. Its platform, although powerful and feature rich, does not quite satisfy our high demands for quality of the user experience. So, we will not extend our contact with Fotomoto, and they will end supporting stores on 500px on September 27, 2011.

We are working hard to make the transition as seamless and transparent as possible. Most of the features you are used to will be preserved in the new 500px stores. And the look and feel will be completely new and improved.

As always — great user experience is our top priority, this will never change. If you would like further information on our roadmap and future development, follow us on Twitter:

Oleg Gutsol,

President and Technical Director, 500px

After reading the email, I was a little sad to see the FotoMoto service leaving 500px but also interested in seeing what was coming down the road…good stuff it seems.

Within a few hours of receiving the 500px email, I received an email from FotoMoto.   A copy of the email in its entirety is below.

Dear Fotomoto / 500px members,

As you may already know, Fotomoto is going to stop providing service to 500px platform at the end of today. Unfortunately 500px didn’t meet their business and technical commitments. After several unsuccessful attempts and unanswered emails to solve their issues, we had to send them a notice last week informing them that we are terminating our contract with 500px (which is a slightly different from what they mentioned in their email).

If you have sold any photo(s) using Fotomoto, your Fotomoto balance is available to you at your Fotomoto dashboard. And of course, Fotomoto will still be available on your other websites and platforms.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. As always, we are committed to our members and to our product experience. In the next few weeks you will start seeing more print products and more features from Fotomoto, stay tuned.

Best regards

Ahmad Kiarostami

Co-founder and CEO

Interesting.  Two emails with two different approaches.

The first from 500px was professional and stated that 500px and FotoMoto were parting ways in a professional manner.  Contrast that email with the FotoMoto email. Within the first paragraph, they begin to point fingers and place blame.  Compare that to the 500px email – which starts out thanking users and praising FotoMoto but claiming its time to move on.

Whenever I see this type of finger pointing, I can only think poorly of the company doing the pointing.  In this case, FotoMoto has lost a great opportunity to take the high road. How nice it would have been to have the an email from them saying ‘we are parting ways but have nothing but good things to say about 500px – good luck.’  That would have been classy.

Instead, FotoMoto places blame on 500px.  They claim emails weren’t answered. They claim 500px is to blame. They are pointing fingers.

Here’s a little piece of advice for the FotoMoto team (and anyone else):

Customers don’t care who’s at fault. We just want to know what’s happening and how it affects us…and what you are going to do about it or what we need to do about it.

At the end of the day…I don’t care if 500px was at fault or if it was FotoMoto who messed up…all I care about is how this will be resolved so I can continue to use the service(s).

Don’t place blame or point fingers.  Take the high road….it might be more work and a longer trek, but you’ll be surprised at how far that road takes you.

For me – this episode was all it took to cross FotoMoto off my list of preferred vendors / services…a simple act by the CEO of sending out a poorly thought out email caused FotoMoto to lose me as a customer.

Image Credit: [Social Media Week] E se fossero i Social Media ad usare Voi? By Simone Lovati on flickr

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