Using Automation To Improve The Customer Experience

Guest Blog Post by Mike Wittenstein 3/24/12

Using Automation To Improve The Customer Experience“How will marketing automation affect the customer experience?”

I was asked this question during a recent panel discussion. The answer depends on how you think about the customer experience. Technology that lets marketers push more brand messages faster and at a lower cost equates to more interruptions from the customer’s point of view.

Customers are people and we should do things for them rather than to them. Automation is great for saving time but it should be used for the benefit of the customer, not just the marketer. Customers would reveal more about their purchase intentions if vendors would design experiences around what customers want to buy.

I had the position of e-Visionary at IBM in 1999. A vendor selling audio equipment enlisted us to help create an epic web presence. I wondered, “What if we could know what a customer already owns and what they plan to buy next?”

I made a sketch of a rack that a professional sound engineer could use to mount his gear, and I took pictures out of the vendor’s catalogue and placed them on the rack. “Let him build his ‘dream rack’ online,” I explained. “If he wants a cool new sound synthesizer, he leaves a hole for it, then you can send him an email when a piece of equipment compatible with his other gear-and his budget-becomes available.”

Yet another great example of well designed customer experience is “My Lowe’s” at You don’t have to keep track of manuals and store cans of paint just to know your colors, you can register everything in your house, paint colors, appliances, carpet and more. By saving pictures of what you would like your home to be like, you can create both a wish list and a to do list.

When they get help, insights and offers that are meaningful and useful, people are willing, even eager, to enter their information online. My prediction is that we will see many more applications designed to bring the consumer a pleasurable buying experience. Those vendors who take extra effort to create applications that will help customers will gain an advantage and will be rewarded with true customer loyalty.

Mike Wittenstein is a customer service speaker who helps company leaders and their front-line workers to create game-changing experiences for their customers. He is one of the many talented customer service speakers on


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