Network Computing's Christy Hudgins-Bonafield has issued stern criticism to businesses mismanaging customer relationships online, and warned that tight Euro-style regulations could extend to the US if companies don't knuckle down and sort out their customer communications.
Comparing the current situation to an "Animal-House type food fight", Hudgins-Bonafield warns firms that if the regulatory cops are to be kept at bay, "it's time to drop the togas, clean up the spam and put a bit of integrity into online business." These strong words come within weeks of a revision of the European legal framework (which CRM News reported on last issue), whch narrowly avoided "opt-in" rules for companies using email for marketing campaigns.
He offers three steps to firms operating over the internet:
1 - Privacy statements: Companies should be prepared to wear their hearts on their sleeves, with home-pages displaying statements that go all the way - no sharing of customer information without exlicit permission. These should be backed up by "a painfully detailed description of how the site protects, stores and shares information."
2 - Companies should look to their bricks-and-mortar presence for a model of how the customer should be treated - respect! Christy points to companies whose fear of online competition may lead them to risk costomer loyalty in a rushed, mickey-mouse internet presence which undermines the reputation they've built in the physical world.
3 - "Light a fire under lazy 'mass marketers' who are too unimaginative or technology-shy to use the 'targeted' marketing capabilities of today's e-commerce products."
Maintaining that the presence of personalisation software leaves 'bad' marketers with no excuse for harassing online customers with junk mail, Hudgins-Bonafield cites Broadvision and Rubric as marketing automation solutions that can help.