Once a year, it happens. My birthday, that is. I won’t yammer on and on about birthdays, and how when you get to be “over-the-hill”, you don’t want to think about birthdays. No, I’m perfectly fine with my age (hey, I earned my grey hair!).
See, every year I get cards and emails from people I’ve never met, and others, whom I’ve met, but certainly don’t consider even casual acquaintances. You know what I’m talking about; these “heart-felt” greetings sent by people who want to take my money, by selling me something, or contributing to their no-doubt worthwhile cause.
What really got me thinking about this was that my car dealer sends me an email every year to remind me that it’s my birthday. Now, I know I’ve never met the person who sent me the email. I’m certain that it was on my drivers license or some paperwork I filled out. But that doesn’t give them the right to copy down that date into their customer database, does it?
Under the guise of improving their Customer Relationship Management (CRM), organizations are hijacking what I consider to be personal information, and using it for their purposes. Anyone who saw a recent episode of The Office spotted the misuse of CRM data when Dwight purloined Michael’s rolodex and misunderstood the color-coding scheme.
Of course, having CRM software makes it a lot easier. But, still, it’s nothing new. My Dad used to get a birthday card, year after year, from a local plumber. Did he know us? Did he do some work for us? No, he pulled my Dad’s birth date from the real estate records when we bought our house.
CRM, used properly, is a great tool, but leave my birthday out of it. It won’t make me very comfortable about giving you my business. How do I know what other information I might give you that you might also misuse?
Oh, and for those of you who really do know me, I truly do appreciate your best wishes for my happy birthday.