Of Barbarians and Car Salesmen: The Creepy Side of Big Data and CRM Deployment

by Matt Klassen on September 3, 2015

All the accumulated data, insights, and information businesses are able to glean about their customers through the seemingly endless variety of available channels are all completely useless unless they can be properly compiled and utilized to reach customers in a personal, appropriate, and relevant way; a way that builds bridges to customers instead of burning them to the ground.

Many marketing and data collection firms will tell you that deploying data analysis to achieve this unheralded level of customer knowledge is the future of customer relationship management, and maybe they’re right, but I just can’t but feel that even at its best, deploying Big Data leaves most of us feeling vulnerable, violated, and more than a little creeped out.

In fact, it seems that the need for data analysis in the customer service process is truly reaching the realm of the ludicrous; that companies like Thunderhead, an industry leader in customer engagement, have gone off the deep end to drive home their point that your business is doomed without comprehensive, creepifying knowledge of your customer base.

The surprising thing is that I gleaned that succinct explanation of the importance of relevant data analysis and deployment from Thunderhead’s own profile, important insights from a company that touts itself as a global leader in customer engagement.

But then I watch the company’s most recent commercial (view it here), a disastrous cacophony of obscurantist over-the-top concepts, featuring a barbarian customer service specialist suckling an inept sales agent at his muscular man breast, teaching the agent the ways of deploying data analysis, only then to see the agent utilize his newfound knowledge by wooing the aloof customer with his pointed knowledge of her needs and wants. The commercial is disturbing to say the least, a marketing disaster that, unfortunately for Thunderhead and its growing industry, still can’t mask the disconcerting nature of data collection itself.

You see, my problem with Thunderhead, and with the entire Big Data industry for that matter, is not poorly choreographed dancing barbarians, or man breasts, or whatever the heck the sales reps in the background were doing, but the final scene of the commercial, where the newly “educated” agent deploys big data to drive home the sale, having discovering the customer’s name, her favourite colour, her preferred style of car, and the free add-ons that will be sure to close the deal.

Now we can guess that the inept sales agent didn’t glean any of this from the actual customer, and that’s of course where Thunderhead comes in, providing companies with data analysis software that can glean relevant information about a potential client from a variety of channels, and that, my friends, is the most disturbing thing about what I’ve seen today.

While I have to wonder if there isn’t a better metaphor for the potentially transformative power of Big Data on customer relationship management than a barbarian suckling an inept sales agent at his muscular man breast, I can’t help but think that this commercial is the perfect example of the extant concerns surrounding data analysis.

In fact, I believe that Thunderhead has accidentally illuminated the fundamental problem with Big Data; that no matter how you use it, it’s as creepy as a huge barbarian breastfeeding a man.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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