How Customers Reveal Preferences

A five-part series about the implementation of preference management

By framing the collection process as a progressive conversation, enterprises are better able to understand and plan for the true nature of customer communications. Research indicates that customers reveal their preferences in iterative steps related to their evolving interest in what a business has to offer and their perception of what the business will do with the information that is disclosed. 

Research clearly shows that customers are much more willing to provide information when it is: A) presented in context, B) Offers a clear benefit to them (i.e. saves time, saves money, rewards, etc.), and C) Is easy to understand and an easy task to complete.

In many ways, preference collection lies at the intersection of a customer’s interests and the interests of the company hoping to serve them. Seen in that context, it is clear that the interaction can be compromised when one party’s interests outweigh the interests of the other party.

For example, a lengthy and complicated registration page can act as a barrier to a trial software download because the customer’s interest in the product is not significant enough to justify the time required to fill out the form. The company over-emphasized its own interests at the expense of the customer and as a result, lost a valuable prospect.  When trust is not established slowly between the customer and the company, the customer is more likely to question how the information being collected about them will be used. In fact, According to recent research from Eloqua, mean conversion drops significantly when more than 6 fields are on a form1.







About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores last summer. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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