Customers reject the experiences brands offer them in all kinds of ways, but the most common has often been likened to a breakup.
After months or even years of developing a relationship, the customer cuts off all communication and is never heard from again.
In a similar way, I’ve heard various customer experience (CX) professionals describe engaging with new customers as a process similar to dating. You meet, maybe flirt a little and then, cautiously, begin spending time together.
What’s interesting is that, over the past year, a number of people have spurned the CX thinking that has guided some of the most popular dating apps.
Instead of swiping through profiles of potential mates on Tinder, Bumble, Grindr or Hinge, they are creating their own “Date Me docs” instead.
Come here (too) often?
I first came across mention of Date Me docs on Wired just over a year ago, but the phenomenon has been covered by many other media outlets since then.
If you haven’t heard of it, the idea is just as simplistic as it sounds: people write detailed backgrounders about who they are and the type of romantic partner they’re looking for, without any of the wordcount restrictions you’d find in the average dating app.
Once you’ve written your Date Me doc, you can send out the link on any of the social media services you use, or perhaps to friends who are ready to play digital matchmaker.
The author of the Wired article did a good job of summing up how opting for Date Me docs is essentially more customer-centric than many of the other platforms open to them:
Date Me docs do seem to be a natural next step in the evolution of online dating, not because the outcomes are necessarily better, but because the docs themselves feel at least like an effective form of self-expression. They are the anti-app, in that they embrace the vastness of the open web and shirk the ideals, dodgy algorithms, and templates of containerized dating apps.
The anti-app attitude may not be limited to those offered by dating services, or even apps in general.
Think about how most brands “put themselves out there” to customers: you land on their web site with a chatbot immediately wanting to know what you’re looking for, asking you to sign up to their e-mail list in exchange for 10% off your first purchase and the same cheery copywriting tone as every other brand.
Why CX pros should write a Date Me doc
Here’s an idea for CX leaders: Write a Date Me doc for your company. Make it personal, as though the brand was not some shadowy corporate entity but a single person.
This doesn’t have to be a giant essay, but it can be thorough. It should also spend as much time describing your ideal customer as it does describing your brand. Many CX strategies involve creating customer personas that remain behind the scenes.
Be overt in your Date Me doc about what you’re really looking for – they might just be willing to get to know you.
Once you’re done, see if a colleague will do the same thing. Compare your Date Me docs. If they seem wildly different, it could explain why some of your customer acquisition and retention efforts aren’t yielding the desired results.
You don’t have to share your brand’s Date Me doc with the outside world. You should, however, use it to inspire the future CX enhancements you make.
Remember that customers have many options open to them, but they’re always hoping, on some level, that you’ll be The One.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.