Time to think beyond traditional customer data

Published on Mon, 16/07/2012, 04:45:11

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Press release by Pitney Bowes Software

In a challenging economic climate with strong price competition within Australia and globally, providing a highly personalised customer experience is key to ensuring customer loyalty. Personalisation is only possible however, with the right data.

Data offers a wealth of insight into who customers are and what they want, and nowhere is this truer than in the retail industry. Despite this many retailers do not make use of their data, at best, randomly cross-sell at the point of sale, with low likelihood of the offer being relevant to the customer.

Chris Lowther, General Manager Customer Analytics and Interaction at Pitney Bowes Software said: “With such fierce competition both domestically and internationally, the Australian retail industry must ensure it keeps up with the data revolution. If it doesn’t, companies risk missing valuable insights that would help them improve their customer experience. We see companies using their data well achieving increases of over 140% in cross and up sell effectiveness.”

So what should retail businesses be thinking about when it comes to data?

Pitney Bowes Software sets out the five data ‘must-dos’ for Australian businesses:

1. Empower frontline employees
Data is not just for the marketing department. Store employees interact with customers on a day to day basis yet typically have the least tools available to them to record customer preferences. This can lead to staff making the same mistakes with customers over and over again, such as offering a loyalty card to a customer who has repeatedly declined one. Allowing front line staff to record customer information can facilitate a much more relevant and useful conversation.

2. Trace the customer’s purchase history
Knowing a customer’s purchase history can have a valuable impact on future interactions. Not only do retailers have information about what a customer bought but also how they bought it. If a customer traditionally buys online and is now in store it may indicate they have encountered a problem with the online store which could provide invaluable feedback. The retailer could use this to improve the customer experience by showing awareness of their concerns. It also feeds into successful cross-selling.

3. Use data to win back your opt-outs
When a customer opts-out of communications it effectively disables a company’s marketing function and it can be difficult to reinitiate a relationship. In-store employees and customer service have daily interaction with opt-outs. Empowering them with data to identify opt-outs allows them to gather valuable information on why the customer opted out, and create new opportunities to reinitiate communication through personalisation.

4. Capture information for the future
Think about the long term. You might not be ready for an entire data strategy but start collecting data now. Capturing customer information will help your business build a loyal customer base in the future. In an ideal world retailers would capture details of every customer interaction.

5. Think about where customers are shopping
Customers want offers that are tailored to them and every interaction is a learning opportunity. If someone only ever shops online, then sending them a store voucher could be a waste of time and money and is likely to end up in the bin. Making sure you capture information on purchasing location is essential.

Chris Lowther adds: “Customer loyalty is all about personalisation, and personalisation is about having the data and being able to make use of it – insight into action. Knowing your customers well provides opportunities to tailor offers for them and avoid situations which might see the customer ignore offers completely. A back-to-school offer is only likely to interest people with school age children, for example. Customers may be insulted to receive information on plus-size clothing. Retailers must get their data in order if they want to stay head of the game. It is not as daunting a task as it might seem, and the results are invariably very rewarding.”

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