Using customer data to deliver meaningful experiences

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“Welcome to Panera! What can I get for you today?” the eager associate asks. “A bowl of chicken noodle soup with a side of bread, please. Oh! And a large ice tea. For here.” She swipes my Panera card and looks up smiling, “Happy birthday, Analise! For your birthday you can pick out a free bakery item today through October 17th.” A quick glance over at the display of tasty treats is all it takes to convince me that I want dessert.

Use analytics to know what a meaningful experiences is

Shopping cart success: reminding her how much she likes stripes.

The sunny disposition of the associate and the inevitable joyous sugar rush placated my uneasiness with Panera knowing it was my birthday.

I probably gave them my birthdate when I registered my reward card, but this experience reminded me of something far more important – I have a customer relationship with Panera – if they knew or revealed any more personal information about me, I would be upset.

Panera demonstrated a very clear sense of what it takes to manage a customer relationship using customer data. Not every experience ends in a free cookie.

“On demand” data used in direct interactions with customers can be beneficial yet challenging for companies. For example, Qantas Airlines armed their flight attendants with iPads to give them up-to-date information on loyalty and elite customers. When it came time to interact with these customers, they fell flat – unable to translate the data into an engaging conversation or successful outcome. The communication breakdown isn’t [entirely]a data privacy issue. It is a data delivery issue – one that can adversely affect how you engage and interact with customers.

Here are three things you can do to optimize your customer relationships:

  1. Reveal only relevant data to representatives and customers

The bright-eyed associate at Panera didn’t need to know anything more than my birthday and what offer to present me. On the flipside, Qantas revealed too much information. So how do you know how much personal data to reveal to your customer? You have to determine the appropriate degree of intimacy, rooted in preferences, beliefs and desires not just traditional segments. I should add you also need to present data in a meaningful way to your representatives: try data visualization. Providing data in a visual format makes it easier to consume, simplifies complex ideas and makes important insights stand out.

  1. Establish a delivery process

You can’t presume users know what to do with the data. Unless you’ve educated them, reps and associates dealing directly with customers may not know where to draw the line. Engagement is not about singling out customers, but rather determining what is important to them. You are more likely to have a successful interaction if you have already thought about your customer’s expectations and provided relevant training to your representatives. Ask yourself, “What kind of behaviors do we want (out of our customer, associates, etc.) and how will we support them?”

  1. Construct a meaningful narrative

Be careful what you reveal and when. As a customer, it is more important on a service call for a representative to understand – or have access to – my history of service complaint calls, than it is for a flight attendant to tell me where I’ve traveled in the last six months. The script has to be carefully crafted. And if you don’t have a delivery process, you are going to have a hard time constructing a meaningful narrative. The same narrative you use will carry over into other areas of your customer interactions. Ever heard of transmedia storytelling? Transmedia is a way to optimize your storytelling across multiple channels. It’s a surefire way customers engaged and excited about your brand.

As a customer, I may not care how you know when it’s my birthday. I do care that you see me as valuable and deliver goods or services that correspond to my comfort level.

What are some of the ways you’re sweetening the deal and making customer interactions meaningful?


Editor's note:

Analise's story is one that will ring true for so many marketers, especially with customers themselves so focused on their own experiences. For more details about how analytics can help, another resource you may want to consider is this whitepaper with a self-explanatory title, Leverage Marketing Analytics to Improve Customer Experience.

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About Author

Analise Polsky

Business Solutions Manager

Analise Polsky’s keen understanding of people in diverse cultures gives her depth and insight into data-driven and organizational challenges. As a Thought Leader for SAS Best Practices, she couples her diverse experience as an anthropologist and certified data whiz, to build core assets and deliver dynamic presentations. Her areas of focus include data visualization, organizational culture and change management, as well as data quality and data stewardship. Her multi-lingual background offers a unique ability to help organizations assess strengths and incumbent skills in order to drive strategic shifts in culture, policy and governance, globally. Analise puts the skills she learned while living in the Amazon to use in the corporate jungle – showing organizations how to evolve data practices and principles to meet ever-changing data demands.

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