Donald Trump’s unofficial guide to Customer Engagement: you may have all the best products and be so smart, so smart but….you have to keep it simple, you have to find what the individual wants and you have to think about the customers you normally don’t. Anything else is fake news.

A lot of people have been saying that Donald Trump isn’t necessarily the best president that ever lived (fake news) but I think he’d make a great Chief Customer Officer and it’s possible he might be available soon. The Donald has much to teach us about building great customer engagement so here are his top tips.

Keep it simple – people like simple, the Facebook generation is both hugely capable at research and is connected to a huge network of information and influence. Paradoxically, they are also much quicker to believe things that they read and only apply their capabilities to things they are interested in. For example, if you asked a range of <30 year olds if they would rather have their superannuation divested from Fossil fuels, they would say yes. If you ask them if they are invested in fossil fuels; they don’t know and if you ask if them if they’ve taken steps to move their fund…. you get a very low number. At the same time, there is an assumption that things are just easier now. I’m to used to having to try and flag a cab at 1am in the rain but not many university students do the same now.

The objective is to find a way to connect the simplicity with something people care about. I would bet you my own superannuation that a link to Facebook with the banner ‘One touch to divest yourself from Adani’ would get some serious traffic and it’s pretty much possible already. Donald is way ahead of the game of this one. His message is; don’t worry about the details of what it means or the practicality. Here is something simple that you care about and here is something good.

Find out what the individual wants –the fascinating trend at the moment is towards hyper-personalisation where everyone can essentially get exactly what they want. This is also a core tenet of economics where there is perfect price discrimination – e.g. I pay the exact amount I am prepared to pay for any given good or service (which is not what everyone else pays.) The essence of behavioural economics is to do the same for behaviour namely; how can we influence behaviour to reach a particular outcome. ‘Nudge’ is essentially about targeting messages or engagement that lead to the desired outcome for an individual. For example, the most effective thing to say on a sales call is generally meant to be ‘Most people choose this package …….’. But there will be a line that will work on everyone, it’s just a question of finding it. ‘Your brother in law couldn’t afford this package’, ‘Every CEO in Australia does x…….’ ‘only someone very different chooses……’

The way you get to this is with data and insight. The more you know about how someone acts and thinks, the better you can target messages. This is not more so the case than with politics and voting. Wins for Trump and Brexit, and even Macron in a way reflect a huge change to how voters (customers) are targeted. You might not like Donald Trump but you have to recognise the way his potential ‘customers’ were laser targeted and mobilised based on behavioural insight. The right messages in the right place however unpleasant, were very effective.

Find the customers you usually don’t – There was a remarkable insight from Trump’s victory that suggested that people knew he was bad but given that people never got a break regardless of the party they chose. They thought that choosing to annoy the people who’ve benefited in the past was still preferable even if it was worse for them. They would rather burn down their own house if it led to the destruction of their smug next door neighbour’s. The conventional wisdom was to go after the same kind of people in the same way. Not for the Orange one.

This is hugely applicable to a customer context. You don’t have to position yourself as the best, you can be the anti-option. Commonwealth Bank has had some publicity challenges recently so rather than try to be the best bank in the market, you could try to be the absolute opposite of CBA. Contrary to the example of the fossil fuels above, there remains enough support for coal etc that you could take advantage. If all the mainstream banks are edging towards more carbon balance, why not create the Queensland Coal Bank: Resources and tradition (anything else is un- Australian.) If you worry about the long-term, surely Trump shows that people have an incredible capacity to forget when you change the narrative a little. For example, with very little research you can see that one of the world’s largest producers of organic food is very connected to one of the worlds biggest cigarette sellers.

So, when you are hiring your next Chief Customer Officer, think about the Donald. As regards opening slots in strategy, operations, finance and especially HR; it might be worth broadening the search away from the Whitehouse.

I’ve got all the best websites – Thecorporatefuturist.com

Believe me (Cambridge Analytics it’s coming to Australia) https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/05/donald-trumps-data-mining-advisers-to-meet-liberal-mps-in-canberra

Many people have been saying that Nobel prize winning economics is interesting http://freakonomics.com/2017/10/09/congratulations-nobel-laureate-richard-thaler/

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