How To Win The Hearts of Customers Without Data-Driven Marketing – A Real Life Story

data driven marketing

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

All the data-driven marketing and technology in the world is no match for an employee like Terry at KeyBank.

As a self-proclaimed data-driven marketer, I’m all about gathering and using insights to improve marketing and customer engagement and experience. Even the savviest data-driven approach cannot make up for missteps in employee relations with customers.

The human element – even for online businesses – always shapes the final judgment on customer retention and acquisition.

My question is, how do you blend the sophisticated approaches of data, omnichannel, personal marketing with the right kind of employees and employee skills?

Can you educate employees to be the right kind of brand stewards when interacting with your customers or is it more about finding the right type of person – with innate skills and senses — to be your employee?

Here’s a personal situation that demonstrates what I mean, I had the most amazing, and unexpected, experience at KeyBank.

Terry, the deliverer of that experience, was just being kind, helpful and thoughtful. Here’s the letter I wrote to Terry’s manager.


“Today Terry saved a 20+ year KeyBank customer…me!

Earlier today, I got an impersonal email from KeyBank with an overdraft withdrawal notice. I called the 1-800 number and had a less than pleasant conversation about my account being overdrawn. In 20+ years with KeyBank I may have done this two other times in the past … it’s just not my style. And, two checks were returned without my knowledge, costing me money in late fees. One was a check for my 2014 taxes. Ugh! So I was coming to visit the branch with a deposit to cover the two returned checks and then move to close my account.

However, life stepped in. When I arrived at the bank, my 3-year old daughter had fallen asleep in the car and I did not want to wake her to go into the bank until she rested for about 30 minutes (once awake, the nap opportunity is gone). I parked in the KeyBank customer parking spots and Terry walked by. She said I could stay in the parking spot for the 30 minutes while my daughter napped. I was so happy — super helpful to me.

Then, about 10 minutes later Terry came out and asked if she could help me via the drive-through or other way. We ended up handing the transaction while Terry walked back and forth from inside the bank to my car three times. She helped me with her extraordinary thoughtfulness, kindness and willingness to see beyond the “traditional practice”. I am so appreciative. You can’t teach what Terry has — caring. Thank you to Terry. Please do not let her above and beyond efforts go unheralded. She saved a customer and made a super busy, sort-of unorganized Mom’s life easier. To me, that is worth everything.”


The morale of this story is: make sure that your employees are your strongest, most amazing asset because the most sophisticated technology or data-driven marketing can’t replace what your employees can deliver – caring, thoughtful, on-the-spot customer happiness.

Period. Full stop.

Over and out from a now-happy KeyBank customer and Mom in Colorado.


Sandra Zoratti

Sandra Zoratti is an award-winning business leader/CMO, author, accomplished speaker and was honored with the Business Marketing Association’s 2012 Marketer of the year. She built and launched the data-driven marketing practice, "Precision Marketing" from the ground up and published her book on the topic in June 2012. Sandra has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

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