Your Data or Your Life

Think about this --- Your data may save your life.

That might be what Jon Lowder is thinking. As he said on his blog He Loves Costco. Costco Robo-Called him about a purchase he had made that may have been tied to the Peanut Butter recall. Instead of being mad – he was very happy. Why? Read on.

Maybe this is a bit dramatic, but the fact cannot be denied that the data provided at the cash register, Point of Sale (POS) data, may save your life or the life of someone your know.

The Intersection of ECM + SM

This is a case where Enterprise Content and Social Media technologies are being used to insure the companies involved are being authentic by following the Three R’s of customer management - Relationship, Responsibility, & Repeatability.  A situation I call Corporate Authenticity.

In this case it’s POS data (aka Enterprise Content) being used to identify customers that have purchased specific products. Then this information is used to start a monologue – a one-way, pushed communication thru a Social Media technology. In this case I am classifying the outbound call center activity as a Social Media technology. You can call it a call center, a bot, or something else – in this case it’s the precursor to a possible dialogue with a customer where the company is following the second R – Responsibility. This relates to a point I made in a previous blog posting about the use of Bots as part of a Social Media strategy to promote Corporate Authenticity.

If the customer wants to learn more they can move this to a two-way discussion – they can create a conversation. Where the company can follow the three F’s of customer communication - Foster, Facilitate, and Follow up.

Example: Costco-Peanut Butter Voicemails


For the last 18 months, the company has left automated messages for members to alert them of food safety issues.

So how does Costco know? Costco keeps track of everything customers buy. Costco provides a list to an outside company that has the capability to make 500-thousand automated calls in an hour.

Costco is the first major manufacturer to implement a high-tech phone tree for food alert


Source and full story here:

One of the goals of Corporate Authenticity is to create highly satisfied and repeat customers. Customers that are so happy they might even tell a few people about it. The more typical Social Media technologies are making this easier every day. The smart companies are starting to leverage Social Media in order to make it easy to follow the three F’s and the three R’s.

Examples of Companies taking a Stand and making sure they are exhibiting Corporate Authenticity:

  • Costco – Robo calls to customers
  • Clif Bar – Voluntary peanut butter recall
  • Girl Scouts of America - news releases stating cookies are safe
  • J.M. Smucker Co. - ran advertisements in newspapers
  • Kellogg Company – Web and Press releases
  • Peter Pan Peanut Butter – Web site Announcement

Thinking Points

  • Would you be happy if your grocery store called you?
  • What if your drug company or medical device manufacturer contacted you?
  • Should clothing stores or convenience stores be able to do the same?

In a matter of life and death I would be happy to receive that call. The reality is our data is being captured and mined with business intelligence tools every day. I say – let’s make sure they have permission to do the right thing with our data. Do you have a different opinion? I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment here or contact me via one of the options below.

Sources and More Information:

FDA Info:

clip_image002 About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Patty said…
I'd have to agree. Unless it's related to me or my family’s health and/or safety I don't need to receive the information via phone or e-mail. If the product does not relate to anyone’s health and/or safety a press release or something similar will suffice. However, if a company supplies a product similar to the product being recalled, but has not been affected, I do not need direct communication. Gnu Foods supplies health foods to numerous vendors throughout the states. Many of their products contain peanut butter. They informed their customers by their website. But I’d have to say – this POS data is pretty neat. Though my privacy is becoming more and more limited  Thanks for the article, Jeff.