If you know me, or if you have spent much time with me, you will know I grew up poor. It’s part of my identity, and I’m very proud of it – or at least now I am. Hard working, loving, and supportive parents, the public education system, and quite a bit of luck allowed me to rise from poverty to a comfortable spot in the middle class … but at the time, I wasn’t so proud.
Being poor forces you to handle situations in different ways, because if the money isn’t there, the money isn’t there. For example, if your water heater goes out, most everyone knows you can call a plumber to fix or replace it. Until I was much older than I’m willing to admit, I honestly wouldn’t have known who to call if that happened, but even if I did, we wouldn’t have had the money to pay.
When I was in my early teens, our water heater actually did go out. As was usual for us, we got out our tools and started taking things apart. We were happy to figure out (without the help of Google since this was the early 1990s) the heating element needed to be replaced and the part could be bought for about $10 at the local hardware store. A quick trip to “town” and we were ready to install it, take a hot shower, and tell our friends how we avoided a $150 repair bill for only a few hours labor and about 10 bucks in parts. (Again, these are 1990s dollars.)
What we didn’t know as we started the repair is that the threads used to hold the heating element into the water tank were very delicate, something plumbers would know from experience, and they would have taken extra care not to damage them. Unfortunately, we cross-threaded the heating element during the installation, which rendered the tank unrepairable.
For the next two months, we had to either take a cold shower or a bath with water heated on the stove until we could save enough money to buy a new water heater. So in the end, this repair that would have cost us $150 if we had hired an experienced plumber ended up costing us $410 in real money and what I would estimate was $25,000 in compensatory damages for two months of cold showers. I hate cold showers!
This experience, along with many others – some with better outcomes, some with worse – has given me the skills needed to successfully work on just about anything regarding a home or vehicle, even if I’ve never encountered that particular issue before. Over many years, I have earned a wisdom specific to homes and vehicles, and my project outcomes are now almost always good.
The marketing ecosystem of today changes so rapidly and the technologies are so new that no one has specific experience deploying them on a timeline required to meet the business challenge. This, along with the fact that brands now have so many technologies at their disposal, can lead to a decision to get out their toolbox and fix it themselves. Unless they have teams with significant amounts of similar experience, this is almost always the wrong decision. Without the right experience, a project that may appear to be on, or just slightly over budget, can ultimately create much higher costs down the road that aren’t immediately apparent. Maybe they won’t be forced to take two months of cold showers, but the opportunity cost of a poor customer experience at scale can easily be 10X the project budget.
Acxiom is the global leader in identity and data, and we have more experience than anyone in the industry in these disciplines. Between the changing privacy landscape, as it pertains to both customer sentiment and new legislation, and the final step in the deprecation of third-party cookies, marketers are heading into uncharted territory.
To not only survive, but to thrive, they will need a partner that has the right experience to help build solutions to navigate the various challenges associated with providing a great customer experience – to provide the right message at the right time, to honor preferences, both implicit and explicit, and to allow customers to be forgotten if they so choose.
Whether you are just getting the ball rolling or you have a very mature customer ecosystem, our experience can help you create solutions that create better outcomes without the need to take a single cold shower.