Tag Archives: VRM

Pervasive Memory Physical Web Transform Touchpoints

The (Smart) Customer as a God

Customers will send “intentcasts” out to the marketplace, revealing only what’s required to attract offers.

Our friend Doc Searls carried the flag this weekend in a major piece he wrote for the WSJ. We loved this passage:

“Big business continues to believe that a free market is one in which customers get to choose their captors. Choosing among AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon for your new smartphone is like choosing where you’d like to live under house arrest. It’s why marketers still talk about customers as “targets” they can “acquire,” “control,” “manage” and “lock in,” as if they were cattle. And it’s why big business thinks that the best way to get personal with customers on the Internet is with “big data,” gathered by placing tracking files in people’s browsers and smartphone apps without their knowledge—so they can be stalked wherever they go, with their “experiences” on commercial websites “personalized” for them.

It is not yet clear to the perpetrators of this practice that it is actually insane. Think about it. Nobody from a store on Main Street would follow you around with a hand in your pocket and tell you ‘I’m only doing this so I can give you a better shopping experience. But that is exactly what happens online (as The Wall Street Journal has shown at length in its investigative series ‘What They Know‘).”

Smart customers

Smart Customers Acquire Superhero Powers!

Outsmart your competitors. Buy the book.

Any customer with a portable digital device and the right combination of free or low-priced applications can now be something close to:


having instant access not just to facts, figures, prices and product specifications, but also trillions of sensors around the world that help us understand better everything that happens in our lives.


able to communicate in any language.


able to respond instantly as products and opportunities become available that match pre-set triggers we have instructed our applications to watch for.

Incredibly insightful…

spotting patterns in data and emerging trends because we have immense computing power at our fingertips and because we can literally immerse ourselves in this data in dozens of different ways.


using devices to augment what we see, hear and smell so that we can deepen our experiences and better pursue our goals.

Super sensitive…

noticing sights, sounds and changes that happen far away – on far larger and far smaller scales than customers could ever have noticed before, thanks to the sensors we described above.

Smart customers are here right now

We’re not talking about sometime in 2018. Smart customers are here right now. They can “see” traffic jams two miles ahead – and avoid them. They can “sniff out” delicious food being prepared 5.4 miles away – and reserve a table at that top-ranked restaurant in an instant. They can “hear” the falsehoods in the voice of a pushy, unethical salesperson and recognize the precise factual errors he has stated – and locate elsewhere exactly the price, features and delivery we require.

You haven’t seen anything yet

At present, most customers are content to leave a trail of personal data behind them. They give Facebook permission to not only store but also broadcast vast amounts of data in their personal profiles. They give online merchants permission to remember their credit card number, transactions and web browsing activity. They don’t remove cookies from their browsers, making it possible for advertisers to track their moments online and target them with specific advertisements.

But what happens when customers take control of their data? This is inevitable, because there is a huge (Google/Amazon huge) opportunity for a new entity to be 100% on the side of customers, making it possible for them to share – and take back – all of the data related to their activities.

Imagine selling a $100 item to a customer online, but being prohibited by both the customer and the law from storing any information about that transaction. Your firm will be flying in the dark, having to start each quarter from scratch, not remembering to whom you sold products last quarter.

A perfect storm is approaching. The technology exists to make data portable. The profit incentive exists for venture capitalists to fund aggressive start-ups who see the immense potential of giving customers full control over their data. Most importantly, the majority of established companies don’t use customer data to benefit their customers. They sell instead of serve.

When this storm hits, numerous companies will be disintermediated. Entire industries will be transformed. Some companies will go from having superficial relationships with their customers to having no relationships. For them, loyalty will be a thing of the past. Since it is easier to establish a culture from scratch than reinvent the culture of a large organization, new competitors will surface that possess cultures that are truly customer-focused. These cultures will invent new services that no inward facing, self-absorbed, siloed enterprise could imagine.

[Adapted from the book Smart Customers, Stupid Companies by Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, available now on Amazon. Image by Flickr user rr_graphic_design.]