• Winning customers for life is a challenging task for organizations. How can you connect with your customer and how can you ensure that they stay with your organization for a long time? Questions that many organizations face.  Fortunately, with the advance of big data and analytics, it has become a little bit easier for organizations. These are challenging times for organizations. Organizations have to face disruptive innovations from many different angles and accelerated change in technological advances require organizations to constantly change and adapt. On the other hand, we have moved from descriptive and diagnostic analytics to the more advanced predictive analytics and we are moving towards prescriptive analytics. The more we use data to predict what will happen and what action should be taken, the more difficult it becomes, but also the more value that can be created.

    Descriptive predictive prescriptive analytics

    Source: Gartner

    New organizations that disrupt multiple industries understand this very well. They use data in every possible way. At every possible touchpoint with customers they collect data and they use smart algorithms to analyse all of that data. Some of the biggest organizations out there, have only appeared in the last decade and they have taken a completely different approach:

    • Uber is the largest taxi companies, but doesn’t own any taxis;
    • WhatsApp is the largest telecom company, but does not own any telecom infrastructure;
    • Alibaba is the 2nd largest retailer, but does not own any inventory;
    • Netflix is the world’s largest movie house, but does not own any cinemas.

    The common denominator with these organizations is that they collect massive amounts of data and combine the data sources and analyse them for valuable insights.

    Any existing, more traditional, organization should take the same approach. They should start collecting data at every single customer touchpoint, combine and mix them and use smart algorithms to obtain insights on customer preferences, interests and demographics to create a single customer view. Only then will you as an organization be able to win your customer for life.

    There are several sources that you should start with when collecting the data:

    1. First of all, you should of course start with your existing customer data; who are your customers, what are the demographics, which products or services did they buy, how much did they spend, when and why. Without this data you have very little chance to win customers for life.
    2. Social media data is the second data source that you should tap into. With the hundreds of different social media networks available there are billions and billions of data points that you could use to gain a better understanding of your customers; what are their interests, what are there latent needs and how do they feel about your brand?
    3. Next comes data from Internet of Things devices, which can tell you a lot of information about how your customers use your products, when they use it, for how long they use it, etc. Valuable information that provides you with a better understanding of your customers.
    4. The 4th data source is location data that has become easily available through the use of, for example, iBeacons. Location data is very valuable, especially in combination with the other data sources, to better understand where your customers move and use your products.
    5. The final data source that you could tap into is public data, provided by governments through their portals. Public data has become more easily available and it can significantly enrich your data.

    Together, these data sources enable you to create a complete picture of your customers and to use predictive analytics to know when to reach out to your customers through what channel. The objective should be to move from managing your customer with tradition CRM data, to interacting with your customers through social media and for example iBeacons, through analysing your customer data using predictive analytics tools in order to truly understand and know your customers, resulting in a N=1 segmentation. This will enable you to create truly personalized products, services and marketing campaigns, resulting in happier customers.

    Combinging Data Sources

    When combining these data sources and analysing them for insights, there are several things you can predict:

    1. Customer churn; when is your customer about to leave you for what reason. Knowing this information will enable you to take proactive action to prevent your customer from eventually leaving you.
    2. Sentiment; what will your customers think of your new product, service, campaign or commercial. Knowing this information enables you alter them before you launch them to ensure that they match your customers’ needs.
    3. Customer support; when can you expect an increase in customer support and what will the customers be looking for? Knowing how your customers use your product, would enable you to predict customer service request if you notice a fault in your product. This information will certainly improve your customer service.
    4. Customer Lifetime Value; when you have a detailed understanding of your customers, you are able to better predict their Customer Lifetime Value. Having a better understanding of the CLV will allow you to invest more, or less, in the right customers.

    Of course, when you collect so much data about your customers, you should ensure that your customers are not becoming the victim of it. Privacy and security is becoming increasingly important, especially with so many data breaches happening. In fact, I believe that any organization will be hacked in the future and if you are not being hacked, you are simply not important enough. Therefore, if you don’t want that your customers switch to the competitor, you should ensure that you do whatever it takes to prevent any data breaches and if a hack occurs, that the privacy of the customer is still safe.

    Winning your customer for life is still very difficult, but the availability of so much data on your customers makes it a lot easier to predict, using smart algorithms, what they are looking for when and how you should connect with them. If you do what it takes to keep the data secure and ensure the privacy of your customer data, you have significantly increased your chances to win your customer for life.

    Image Credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock

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    Dr Mark van Rijmenam

    Dr Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq. He is a highly sought-after international public speaker, a Big Data and Blockchain strategist and author of the best-selling book Think Bigger - Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business. He is the co-author of the book Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World, which details how blockchain can be used for social good. His third book, The Organisation of Tomorrow, will be published in Q1 2019. He is named a global top 10 Big Data influencer and one of the most influential Blockchain people. He holds PhD in management from the University of Technology Sydney on how organizations should deal with Big Data, Blockchain and (Responsible) AI and he is a faculty member of the Blockchain Research Institute in Canada. He is a strategic advisor to several blockchain startups and publisher of the ‘f(x) = ex‘ newsletter read by thousands of executives.
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