Big Data and analytics have been changing how organizations make decisions. With more information being available about customers’ needs and preferences, it’s imperative to form a complete, 360-degree view of each customer.
Big Data has changed a lot of things, and how people shop is one of the bigger ones. Now, customers are used to seeing personalized recommendations for products, customized event ads, and an entire bevy of buyable goods and services curated just for them. Without the massive and integrated flow of information that the best use of Big Data provides, this process would be difficult – if not impossible.
Nowadays, companies want to know more about their companies than just the information their B2C transactions give them. This holistic view of the entire personality not only helps them offer a more pertinent range of products or services to the customer, it also enables them to better stand out from the competition.
So what’s the roadblock to this blissfully connected state? Often, the data needed is stored in two different places: within the company, and within third-party systems. Added to this is the challenge that many traditional data storage systems simply aren’t set up to handle this amount of information.
Big Data Rises to the Challenge
That’s where Big Data comes in. These platforms have the space and power to manage vast amounts of data with ease and speed. When combined with a cloud-based system, they’re also extraordinarily good at meeting the need of a geographically distributed and changing workforce. Merging, processing, analyzing, and generating results from a mountain of information is now very much a possibility.
How much better-equipped are today’s data technologies than traditional RDBMS systems? Have a look:
- Speed: Data is mined at much higher speeds
- Set Time: Systems are quicker to set up
- Volume: Terabytes of data can be processed
- Flexibility: Unstructured data can be handled
- Text-Ready: Text analytics are readily supported
- Cost Effective: Significantly greater amounts of data are processed with less budgetary impact
- Scalable: Intra-organizational changes and fluctuations in demand present little problem
Clearly, a Big Data system can provide the raw power we need. How do we harness it?
Building a 360 Customer View
Each journey has to start somewhere. The journey of creating a holistic view of your customers might start with getting the right technology in place, but it doesn’t end there. The focus now shifts to applying all that information. This is done in 4 basic steps:
- Create A Unique Global Consumer ID – This includes information like whether someone is a member (or not), a new or returning customer, whether there’s any cross-brand integration going on, etc. Background data, such as regional and household information, is needed too.
- Collate Internal Data – This step gathers info like transaction information, customer service details, and overall customer satisfaction. It also covers the customer’s activity on company websites, loyalty programs, and social media sites.
- Collect External Data – During this phase, the attention shifts from customer and company to the outside world. We’re looking at category information, trends, and events; geographic and demographic profiles; general attitude and lifestyle information, and competition analysis.
- Apply Predictive Analytics – With all available factors in the mix, we can start to forecast customers’ likelihood to purchase, pursuadableness, potential upsell and cross-sell effectiveness, and the conversion of prospective customers.
Five Steps to Optimizing a Holistic View of Customers
All this information is pretty impressive, but let’s not overlook the reasoning behind it: We want to be able to get the right information to the right person at the right time. Thereby, we’ll maximize our results.
We can’t do this in a vacuum, however. To make the best possible use of our complete view of the individual customer, we need to:
- Listen to what customers are saying. When customers voice concerns or complaints about our brand, we need to improve it. When they offer praise and rave reviews, we need to learn from that and apply that lesson to other areas.
- Understand how customers interact. We need to know, not just how they interact with us, but with our category as a whole. Stay alert to incipient changes and new trends.
- Identify how satisfied customers are. Target potential areas for improvement as well as cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
- Customize and delight. Each customer wants to feel appreciated as an individual. Provide that. As far as possible, make every experience positive. Make them feel valued.
- Engage the customer through the channels and offerings they prefer. This will further strengthen brand loyalty.
Finally, remember that an integrated view of the customer extends across time. This includes their past purchases, interactions, and responses; their present interactions, identity, and preferences; and the future influences that can be used to prevent churn, maximize upsell and cross-sell, and – above all – keep them as a loyal customer.