Using Data to Create a Better Customer Experience

Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Organizations are using data to better understand their customers and deliver a more relevant customer experience.

Big Data is giving organizations a lot of information about their customers, but some are--rightfully--concerned about overdoing it and alienating their customers with intrusive behavior.

However, many companies have recognized that as long as they tread carefully and give value to their customers, clients will be more willing to share information. Alan Adams, senior director of marketing and CRM applications at Office Depot, pointed out that companies need to use data to be where their customers are, but at the same time respect their privacy. "We want to be top of mind, but not intrusive," he noted during his presentation at the SAS Global Forum last week.
Adams stressed the importance of providing relevant information to customers, especially in the era of social media, when customers are constantly connecting with the brands they do business with and can share their experiences while also learning from those of others. Adams said companies are just a click away from being cut off from their customers and all their online contacts unless they provide relevant outreaches. "We need to have relationships that give value," he said.

Jim Davis, SAS's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said Big Data needs to be looked at in terms of the problems it can solve. He pointed out that companies should look at how they can change the way they do business through the use of analytics.

Several leaders whose companies have managed to make sense out of the mountains of data they have believe that proper analytics is a game changer. "[Analytics] has made us a lot smarter than we were," said Alex Martins, Orlando Magic's CEO, during his conference presentation. Martins said the basketball team used data to help transform itself into an organization that understands customers better. This insight is helping Orlando Magic customize the experience according to each customer's preferences.

Additionally, data helped the NBA team to create a robust business plan. For example, the data shows demand for a particular seat in the building, thus a way to determine ticket pricing, including for different days of the week. "It helped us transform our game," Martins said.

Cameron Davies, senior director of management sciences and integration at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said during his presentation that understanding big data gives a competitive edge to companies that do it right. "The last thing you want is to be the only one not doing it," he said.

Although many companies are gathering copious amounts of data, in order to make the most of this information they need to have the right analytic talent, who can not only understand what the numbers are saying, but also make recommendations that will improve the organization's successes and its customer's experience.