Unifying big data and customer experience

You’d have to be asleep to avoid articles and advertisements focused on big data analytics and driving new insights around customer behavior.  And next to all of these articles, you’d see a call for delivering a consistent and highly personalized experience for all users across all devices. Each discipline demands deep functional expertise and its own balance between art and science – knowing how to pull out actionable insights from an exploding pool of data sources or arriving at a level of personalization and engagement that delivers a compelling experience.  And for some time, these initiatives have resided within separate marketing or IT teams. But here’s the challenge:  the best companies are already bringing these two areas together and accelerating their competitive advantage.  Moreover, with only 12% of marketers having the right tools in place to express a unified view of the customer, the gulf between the haves and have-nots is expanding daily.

While your teams may not be able to have perfect information or world-class experience designers, you can lead your teams in that direction more quickly than you might think. Many of our clients are working to bring these areas together in practical ways. Here are three strategies we recommend that when done right can help deliver improvements in profitability and customer retention.

  • Allow front-line and go-to-market teams to challenge and test insights from your analytics professionals. Often we see analytics teams separated from the teams they support. Even more often, we find analytics professionals with general statistics background and a  limited marketing lens. Leading organizations ensure that there is a back-and-forth that educates and informs both groups. In addition, companies need to invest in 3rd-party data to augment their own internal data and compare against the larger market. Understanding where customers go and spend time, with whom they communicate and rely on for decisions and what they browse and purchase will help those insights become even more relevant, compelling and actionable.
  • Insights need to inform creative briefs and on-going creative execution, both in test and in market. Many organizations do use analytics and research to inform creative. And because of the large media investments, this activity has a long history in the agency world to inform and drive campaigns. Rather than only relying on large primary research projects, you have behavioral data available to apply early and often. Establish more formal points in the creative and campaign development processes to incorporate these new analytics and insights. And the best companies actually embed analytics team members within the marketing and creative teams. It doesn’t need to be onerous or overwhelming – just increasing the opportunities for synergy.
  • Finally, your customers can be of huge value in this process. You already ask your customers to accept privacy policies and many leverage web surveys for customer experience analytics. To build the strongest data set and simultaneously build stronger engagement and loyalty, trust your customers to give you their feelings about the use of their data and the experience you build with it. At each stage of the experience where you increasingly leverage more and more analytics, give your customers and prospects a chance to sound off with interstitial questions, short form surveys, and educational pieces that highlight the trade offs between more personalized and more generic experiences. And employing a “test and learn” operating model allows you to adapt to actual experiential and interactive data both before launch and while your efforts are in market.

From an academic perspective, the analytic tools, the state of user experience design, and the prevalence of digital marketing channels makes achieving a seamless consumer experience more possible than ever.  But for most companies, the gap between big data and customer experience persists. I’ve laid out just a couple of ideas for accelerating your journey. It’s not easy getting teams to adopt these types of changes. But leaders that actually put these ideas into practice are seeing the impact – six times more likely to be a leader in profitability and five times more likely to lead in customer retention. That should provide more than enough incentive.