Why you don't need a magic bullet

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Yesterday at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, SAS Senior Director of Product Marketing Nelle Schantz moderated a panel discussion featuring Thomas Davenport, best-selling author and Director of the International Institute for Analytics; Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and co-author of Groundswell; and Rom Hendler, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The panel touched on a variety of topics related to the customer experience, including:

  • How to analyze marketing programs and sales initiatives to see impact quickly.
  • Social media’s impact on analytics and privacy.
  • Maximizing cross-functional activities to provide a consistent customer experience.

Hendler shared several examples of analytics at work in his casinos, which he considers part of the resort industry rather than gaming industry. He emphasized the importance of digging deep into customer loyalty and reward programs.

“It’s easier said than done,” he said. “Some of the most loyal customers may not be big gamers but may visit for the leisure activities such as fine dining, shows and spas.” Tracking those activities can be tricky when each of those arms of the business may fall under separate ownership or operational management.

Some of Davenport’s strongest advice was to prioritize data analysis projects and not try to tackle everything at once. “Are we focused on customer attrition? Increased loyalty? Having the best targeted promotions? You can’t do it all,” he said. "Trying to do everything can result in no real impact anywhere."

He cited Marriott as an example of a company that has put analytics at the core of their decision-making culture. When leaders begin talking about a new opportunity, they stop to get their reports first. “If you’re just generating the insights, but don’t act on them, it’s going to be hard to get value from analytics,” Davenport said.

Focusing on social media and responding to an audience question about its inherent privacy risks, Li recommended that organizations get clear on the distinction between privacy and permissions. Consumers will often provide all kinds of information in exchange for something as simple as free shipping, and that is information the organization now has permission to use responsibly. “Most brands realize if they abuse privacy once, they lose customer trust,” she said.

Li also offered some practical advice to executive attendees regarding using data to provide a consistent customer experience. “Everyone is looking for that magic bullet,” she said. “But if you can use analytics to make your front-line people just a little more attuned, a little more aware of how they can impact the customer experience, that is astounding. You won’t need a magic bullet.”

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Becky Graebe

Director, Communications

In addition to traditional employee communication efforts at SAS, Becky Graebe oversees an award-winning global intranet and a variety of enterprise social media channels. Her goal is to create a working environment where SAS employees around the world feel connected and inspired to share fresh ideas, solutions and expertise with colleagues and customers. Having studied at Southern Methodist University and earned her degree from Stetson University, she now serves on the Employee Communications Section board for the National Public Relations Society of America, is an active member of Triangle Women in Communications, and volunteers with Citizen Schools and the Wake County Support Circle Program.

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