A new article in the Guardian newspaper (link) reports that the Admiral insurance company will use your Facebook and other social media content as a means of adjusting your insurance premium. This is in addition to other data that they have and buy.
I think this is an interesting development in the use of data as a means of understanding the person that they are developing a relationship with, and I hope that it goes further than just pricing. A clever use of social media information, based upon the content of posts, should also be used to develop meaningful relationships between the provider and the customer. Ones that are transparent, and that reflect the DNA of the provider, but in a way that relates to the customer. In this way, the provider will be seen as having the best interests of the customer at heart, and as we know, this increases trust and develops loyalty.
I hope that other companies do this more in the future, but not in an invasive way, rather a subtle way to understand the customer, and to reflect this in their relationship building. Social media not only reflects a person, it also shows who that person wants to be. This can give valuable insights about customers as individuals. Unfortunately, from the history of data use, right back to CRM, it will most likely be used to sell more, rather than build relationships. When we know that the lifetime value of a Starbucks customer can be tens of thousands of dollars, its surprising that sales, rather than relationships are still in focus for many organizations. I recently talked to an organisation that used almost 90% of its marketing to obtain customers and about 10% on retaining customers. When will organizations understand the power of good customer relationships over time and act upon it?