In February, SAS was recognized as a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science & Machine Learning Platforms report. SAS is the only vendor to be a leader in this report for all seven years of its existence. According to us, the topic of the research is [...]
Real-time analytics is, at its most basic, being able to present the right offer at the right time. And it’s the ultimate competitive differentiator in today’s age of highly valued customer experiences. Marketers need to understand why this capability is so important to customers, and how to implement this kind [...]
In the first half of 2017 and in my only domain – which is marketing – an announcement set the tone for a major change. How not to be stunned when “Coca-Cola ditches global CMO role in leadership shake-up”? If there is only one product you can find anywhere on [...]
With AI, marketing is needed but marketers might not be was published on SAS Voices by Christine Coudert
Throughout my 10 years at a leading direct marketing and CRM agency, a chief issue we solved for our clients was what we affectionately referred to as a spaghetti junction. It’s a nickname often given to a massively intertwined road traffic interchange that resembles a plate of spaghetti, like this […]
Don’t make your marketers experience a spaghetti junction was published on SAS Voices.
I’ve posted here in the JMP Blog about the American Marketing Association’s Advanced Research Techniques (ART) Forum and the impressive work that’s presented there every year. As co-chair, I am doubly excited for this year’s conference, which will take place June 26 – 29 in Boston, MA. We had an […]
The post AMA Advanced Research Techniques (ART) early registration ends Thursday! appeared first on JMP Blog.
The timeline on the latest season of Netflix’s series House of Cards has finally caught up with the real world, and the current plot line regarding President Frank Underwood’s underhanded dealings to win the Democratic nomination has many parallels with the current US primary election coverage saturating TV and print […]
Does big data spell big trouble on the campaign trail? was published on SAS Voices.
It’s almost impossible to avoid election coverage right now, no matter how hard you try. If you’re like me, you’re fleeing to the safety of South Africa’s recently launched Netflix in to order avoid the coverage of the US primaries currently dominating international TV and print news, or South Africa’s […]
Campaigning to your customer: When elections and marketing collide was published on SAS Voices.
Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) ran an advert a few years ago, showing identical twins born 10 minutes apart. The advert shows how this small difference had a great bearing on their lives, with two very different personalities developing, and, of course, both eventually finding contrasting but equally fulfilling careers at the bank.
I was reminded of this recently when discussing the differences in behaviour within very similar customer segments. No matter how granular and analytically-advanced your segments, there are minor differences between the individuals in each one that cause them to behave differently from their peer group. In the words of the advert, they are “identical in every way, except the way they think."
Data-driven marketers are trying to overcome this problem with a segment-of-one approach. Listening to, understanding and then acting on the unique nuances in behaviour of each individual means truly personalised experiences.
Will we be seeing truly personalised experiences in the near future?
Imagine an online fashion retailer. Two identical male shoppers, in the young professionals segment, interested in smart suits and accessories, both shopping online, both presented with the same offers for the latest Italian designs . . . but one day, one of these shoppers clicks on the kids’ clothing section, not the men’s.
Is this a mis-click? Or does this young man have a new niece or nephew, or maybe a newborn son we didn’t know about?
And more importantly, what does this mean for the way that we handle his visits and make offers to him? Do we move him into the new parents segment? How do we know if this is a permanent change in behaviour? Can we triangulate this behaviour with any other that we’ve seen, to provide clues?
The technology is available to do this. We have big data processing power and the analytical capabilities to sift through this data to uncover relevant patterns of behaviour. We can even do it in real time, or close to it.
But the complexities in data collection and integration slow these efforts down. Companies are overwhelmed by the volume of the data, and struggle to identify common threads across multiple sources. Organisational silos, channel isolation and segment-based thinking all hamper company-wide efforts to develop the elusive 360-degree view of individual customers that would allow real-time analysis of their behaviour.
How can organisations realign around a segment of one?
I suggest that customer-centricity is developing a new meaning. It is now understood that realigning the organisation’s data, people, processes and technology around its customers is the only way to achieve truly personalised experiences. It is also understood that these experiences will be the cornerstone to winning and retaining customers.
But there is another problem. Even if an organisation could collect all its data and analytics in one place and build an intelligent view of each customer’s unique past behaviour, it would struggle to react quickly enough to nuances in real-world behaviour. And this is what is required for true personalisation.
The most vital component for marketers and data analysts is a centrally-managed data, analytics and real-time decision-making engine at the heart of all marketing efforts. This centralised engine should act as the channel-agnostic and context-sensitive brain. It would be working in the background during all interactions across all channels and make real-time decisions for these channels about what messages to provide to each customer.
Many organisations make the mistake of building personalisation logic, but limiting it to a particular channel, usually the website or mobile channels. If these channels operate in isolation and don’t listen to (or feed) the centralised brain, insights and decisions made on this channel do not inform, nor are informed by, any other channel, whether it’s the call centre, in-branch staff or batch email marketer.
The work of the centralized brain
Let’s go back to our example. Our young male customer’s recent change in behaviour cannot be handled in isolation. As soon as this behaviour occurs, the central engine should move into action.
It is constantly listening for new contextual information, such as website or mobile app clickstream data. When it obtains new data, it runs it through a real-time process to decide if this new information should change our predetermined action for this person. This process considers all available data, such as:
- Engagements with the brand in the past minutes or hours (since the last batch analytical processes ran).
- Insights on social media using text analytics.
- Previous browsing history to check whether this is an isolated incident.
- Purchase history to see if he does this at the same time every year.
At the end, the brain will make a decision about whether to override or append the predetermined scores or segments. It will determine the best action to take for that individual in that moment (our segment of one), and this action will immediately be available to all other channels, brands and data sources.
Is this really worth all the effort, time and expense? Well, SAS’ customers think it is. One mobile operator is able to detect real-time context in airtime balance thresholds. Their problem was that they could not send personalised offers until a few hours after the threshold was reached. And by then, the offers were often no longer relevant. The company was hovering at a 5 percent response rate to its offers no matter what it tried.
But when the company introduced real-time centralised decision-making with personalisation, response rates rose to 24 percent, generating tens of millions in incremental revenue per year. This was far beyond expectations and will only improve as the company’s capabilities mature.
Time to change
Is your organisation treating your customers like they are all twins? Improving your segmentation abilities is an evolutionary journey, and I urge you to start immediately with what you have. The white paper by Suneel Grover, Analytics in Real-Time Online Marketing, discusses how your organisation can take the first steps to detect, analyse and respond to the rich data that your customers are already giving you on digital channels.
This SAS eBook is another great primer on the concept of contextual marketing.
Consider the last email or digital ad you received from a favorite retailer. It may have included an offer to save 20 percent on your next online purchase, or an invitation to shop in store during an exclusive sale. You don't think too much about this brand’s customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing capabilities, because you don’t have to.
Why? Because the most sophisticated brands employ tools that can tailor an email or a social media post to their buyer’s sweet spot. Powered by data and analytics, these CRM tools do the heavy lifting for marketers to engage their customers in more personalized, authentic ways.
CRM Watchlist 2016
Often recognized as a forerunner in CRM software, SAS Customer Intelligence has added a new accolade to its trophy case as a winner on the 2016 CRM Watchlist. The annual list – curated by leading CRM industry analyst, Paul Greenberg – includes the dominant companies to watch in the CRM market. As Greenberg notes in his announcement blog post on ZDNet, the competition was especially stiff this year, with 131 vendors vying for the winners spot. With each submission, Greenberg reads and scores the company (which is weighted), which is then followed up with extensive research analyzing the vendor in the markets it addresses.
One important distinction of the Watchlist is the winner's impact within the CRM space. Greenberg cites that “the impact has to be obvious, both in the prior year and in the anticipated next two or three years.” And “that there is no doubt at all that your company is making a major impression on a market and actually changing or strengthening that market by its presence.”
The impact is not only from the strength of our SAS customer intelligence offerings, but as a whole company. Greenberg states, “To have an impact, the company has to be pretty much a complete company who has been doing this long enough to have established a rhythm that leads to impact. The company has to be well rounded -- it has financial stability, solid management, excellent products and services, culture, and a strong partner ecosystem to help sustain its efforts.”
The SAS customer intelligence team is honored to earn a spot on the winners list for 2016, demonstrating SAS's commitment to helping brands deliver customer experiences that matter.
When I walk into my local chicken shop I always feel that Mary, the owner, has roasted chickens, prepared salads and put on extra rice pudding for my family’s Friday night meal. Mary welcomes me with open arms, greets me and my son by first name and always has an honest and empathetic conversation. She knows exactly what my order will be and always has new food items on offer that I may like to try and buy next time. It’s the ultimate customer experience I have on a weekly basis. I always compare other shopping experiences to my local chicken shop.
So why can’t all my online and offline experiences be like Mary’s chicken shop?
In a world where data storage is getting bigger and cheaper, technology is faster and wiser and the Internet of Things (IoT) promises to make my life convenient and happier, organisations still struggle to get my first name right! Is this because they may be over complicating the whole customer experience hype? Are they too focused on getting the product right rather than listening to the customer's needs? Many debates can be had but, I believe that if we stick to the basics in a big wide world of “things”, then the ultimate customer experience will grow naturally.
Count down! My top four ways to make customer experience like visiting your local Chicken Shop:
4. Greet your customers and get their name RIGHT!
My telco provider still can’t get my name my right on their billing system, even with numerous attempts of me telling them to update it. It often makes me wonder whether they have their data quality system switched on. Personalisation with every communication channel is crucial for customer relationships and knowing that someone really does care about getting your name “right” makes you as the consumer take them more seriously when doing business.
Unfortunately, I have seen organisations jump on the one-to-one marketing movement without proper planning. While implementation can be intricate, proper planning on how to get the basics right is critical to create that “local chicken shop” customer experience.
3. Make the store inviting and easy to buy
Before I walk into the chicken shop I am already salivating at the choices on offer that Mary’s created. She knows I will definitely buy because of how easy and inviting she has made her shop. Without even realising it, Mary has intelligently advertised the right and relevant products for her target market. That’s probably through years of experience and historical “conversations” in her head.
In a digitally spinning world, you have to make advertising intelligent. Extracting data insights from all touchpoints of digital and social can help drive your company’s marketing efforts. The benefits of applying even basic analytics to this data can provide the ability to forecast and segment, to ensure that advertising for sales are more targeted to make the customer experience richer.
2. Always listen empathetically to feedback, emotion and sentiment
Have you rung a call centre and found that the person on the other end is doing all the talking and not listening to your real needs? Why? Because – they have a script to follow and an outcome to achieve that is not at all empathetic to your needs. I recently reviewed a project where we used voice-to-text technology to further analyse the two-way conversations between agent and callers. We discovered that the agent script and sentiment led the customer down a path to churn from the company. Not the outcome expected! In my recent experience, it seems that call centres are so far behind in listening to the real voice of the customer – actual two-way conversations. Instead, they tend to extract “negative” words that the agent has transcribed from the call. See anything wrong with this picture? Yes – it’s not the “Voice of the Customer” but more like an interpretation on the transcript of the agent’s conversation. At SAS we "drink our own champagne" by listening to the true webchat voice of customers - find out more here.
1. Make it a memorable and seamless experience
If your customer enjoys their encounter with you, they will be more likely to return. So make it a memorable experience and live up to your customers’ expectations. Invest in synchronising your data and build a platform for long term relationship – not just transactional. Integrate your channels of communications so the conversation feels like one seamless conversation with your company. I get so annoyed when I am on a service call with a provider and I have to explain my story five times before I get to the right agent. Even when I have already “Tweeted”, “Instagramed” and “Facebooked” my issues.
Finally, don’t make excuses about accessing, data, legacy processes, siloed systems, limited skills or high costs. As in today’s world these excuses are longstanding and should have been resolved by now. So make it a mandate to modernise your customer experience before your customer has moved to your forward-thinking competitor.
The above described are the old school, traditional customer experience basics that your grandmother may talk to you about. My visits to the local Milk Bar (General Store) when growing up are memorable because of the experience created. We just need to take the basics and apply them to the wide world of Big Data and Analytics. I'd suggest you view this checklist to get started Analytics checklist for Customer Intelligence.
All opinions are my own based on conversations and feedback from the professional field and customers looking to create the ultimate customer experience.