The 21st century economy revolves around data. Businesses are faced with a wealth of information, from their customers, from the wider industry, and from within their own business.
Those organisations that succeed are the ones that can best analyse and exploit that data, from whatever source.
For instance, a retailer could analyse customers’ buying habits to predict seasonal trends. An energy company could analyse resource trends to predict pricing and offers for customers.
Or a financial institution could analyse its own processes and productivity to improve efficiency. Whatever the approach, analysis can already provide key insights that help to perfectly target strategy.
However, organisations still need to examine whether they are wasting a key resource – is their analytical power being used as widely as it could be?
The communications conundrum
Take customer communications, for instance. This is one area that could both benefit from and feed into analytics enormously, but too often can’t meet its full potential. Analytics is already used to target customers, to understand their needs, and to ensure they are receiving offers and rewards that are tailored to them. Yet there is always the potential to take things further.
At its most basic, businesses should analyse the channels they use to communicate. A customer can be sent perfectly targeted, exquisitely presented offers and information. But if they never open their post, or never click on corporate emails, or never reply to SMS, then that effort is wasted. Analysis should ensure that a customer is always sent the right message over the right channel.
At the same time, there is the matter of content. Most consumers have wildly differing tastes to one another, yet customer communications don’t reflect this. Offers, such as vouchers from supermarket loyalty schemes, may be personalised, but the message and content surrounding them will never change.
In increasingly competitive times, customers need to be seen as specific individuals instead of a single, uniform mass, and communication has to follow this. Quite simply, with the amount organisations will have already invested in analytics, extending that investment into the front lines of customer communications should make perfect sense.
Give and take
The relationship between customer communications and analytics is by no means one-way. Any communications will, in turn, generate their own data which then can be put to use by the business. Perhaps most obviously, the more that customers respond to offers, promotions and other communications, the more accurate a picture the business can build of them.
This in turn should lead to more accurate predictions, more effective communications and ultimately greatly increased customer satisfaction. For instance, if a utilities customer’s smart meter shows the right reduction in energy use after a letter or email suggesting ways to reduce their bill, the company knows it has an engaged customer.
It can then follow up on this with targeted offers and other suggestions, secure in the knowledge that the customer is listening.
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