Introduction: Definition of Preference and the Collection Process

The first of a five-part series that discusses preference collection best practices

For the purposes of this series, "preference" is defined as a self-reported opinion related to interaction between customer and company on topics such as product interest, channel of choice and frequency of communication.

These preferences are not solely derived by profile data, purchase history or where a customer happens to live; rather, they are expressly stated by the customer themselves. In other words, preference management means giving customers and prospects the ability to conveniently communicate with a company, recording the information in a central location and acting on what they say. With that in mind, we can further segment preferences into three simple categories:

With a working knowledge of preferences in hand, attention can be turned to the process whereby they are collected. To some, the phrase "preference collection" refers to a passive or automated process of harvesting readily available customer information and leveraging it for sales and marketing purposes. In many cases, enterprises view web behavior tracking and prior sales data as a form of preference collection. While these activities have value and appropriate application, they are "implied" and don't represent the best or most effective form of preference collection.

In order to discover and leverage truly powerful preference data, enterprises must view collection as a dialogue and invite customers to actively declare their needs, likes, dislikes and privacy parameters.

About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.

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