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FNAC wants to reinvent the relationship with the customers

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Enriching discussions can also take place online and I was very positively surprised by a discussion I had on Linkedin. If you are familiar with this website you may know that there are groups to which you can get affiliated according to your professional background or experience. Those groups are very useful if you want to discuss some specialized topics with people in the same industry.

A discussion was started on one of those groups after an information was posted regarding the strategic plan the French retailer FNAC was about to launch.  The title of this post was “FNAC reinvents customer relationship” and it explained that one of the three pillars to realize this aim was a “privileged customer relationship”.

One of the participants in the online discussion explained that FNAC’s aim was probably to create a “customer data Hub” and to use data from different sources in order to create a cross-canal approach to address customers’ needs at the level of the individual.

Alan’s explanation, which I don’t challenge because it certainly reflects the FNAC’s intentions, was however somewhat disappointing for me. Can a firm learn a lot about its customers just by looking and “playing” with data? Where should the “reinvention of the customer relationship” actually come from?

I was picturing myself in the skin of FNAC’s marketers, trying to make a sense of data stored in pivot tables, crossing data on time spent in the store with the color of the cover of the books purchased to conclude that black seems to make customers stay longer in stores.

The last word went to Brigitte Stroh-Goujard who very cleverly summed p the whole discussion: “given the complexity of the customer experience and the different distribution channels, it is certainly necessary to build a strategy backed with analytical tools. Yet the basis for any “reinvention” is still to have a real vision on the type of marketing a firm wants to have with its customers. Tools should of course complement this strategy (by enabling the cross-analysis of data). But a reinvention with tools only and certainly this mixing of data as it is currently proposed, is deemed to failure”

My take:

What about forgetting all these damned tools. What if we’d stop thinking that the light will come from softwares, data mining and the likes? At best you’ll understand WHAT the client has done but never WHY he/she has done it. Most of the time he/she doesn’t even know himself/herself!

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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