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Customer Strategist Journal
Innovative strategies for building more profitable customer relationships. Published quarterly online and in print.
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The Customer Intelligence Advantage

Customers Speak Volumes. Are You Listening?

I often wonder if companies that ask for my opinion do anything with the information. Most businesses never say how or if they're going to use customer survey data. So it was a pleasant surprise to receive an email from a Macy's executive after I provided feedback. I complimented the customer focus, skill, and helpfulness of an associate; the executive wrote to say that she shared my note with the associate and his manager.

In today's increasingly social world, more and more customers are sharing their opinions directly and indirectly across multiple channels. Just as important, their online and purchase behaviors provide insight into such areas as their likelihood to repurchase or churn, their potential value, and their needs and preferences. Companies that combine that information with market data and business intelligence build a treasure trove of potentially invaluable data.

Then what? Organizations don't need more data; they need the right data. Those volumes of information are virtually worthless without a data strategy and the analytics capabilities to unlock the gems of actionable insight inside the data store.

So, what's the right data? Of course, the answer is: It depends. Each organization needs different data based on their specific goals and priorities. One thing they all need, however, is commitment across the organization as to how data will be acquired, managed, and shared. Bad data, data lost to black holes, and data silos are obstacles more easily overcome if there's a plan to avoid them at the outset.

The National Football League's New England Patriots is one organization that successfully operationalized its data management and integrated its data across several of its internal operating systems. This allowed the team to get to the right data about each of its various customer types, and as a result, send only relevant communications.

The organization has different databases for different customers, including season ticket holders, people who purchase single tickets, clients of the events business, loyalty program credit card holders, and Pro Shop customers. In the past none of those systems were integrated. 

Today there's a platform that sits on top of those databases and analyzes the data. The organization now sees the overlap in customers across databases and can pinpoint individual marketing opportunities. As Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and strategy, explained to Managing Editor Mila D'Antonio, the team's goal is to engage customers in a way that's meaningful to them. A detailed data strategy and advanced analytics capabilities are allowing the team to do just that. Proof: Open rates are up 15 percent and click-through rates score even higher.

Thanking individual customers for feedback is an important way to build engagement. But when organizations use analytics to really "listen" to customers, and then take action on that insight, the opportunities for engagement and growth are endless.