When Shannon Balliet-Antorcha came to Carnival Cruise Lines the company already excelled at meeting customers' expectations once they left port, but finding and retaining customers was less than an exact science.
By the time she assumed her role as director, database marketing and customer data integration, Balliet-Antorcha had built a revenue management team from the ground up who use analytics to set price points, forecast supply and demand, and provide better customer insight. "When I stepped into my current role in 2006, my goal was to usher Carnival into the scientific marketing world," she says. "Today we bring together data from every repository to form a complete customer view."
Carnival began leveraging segmentation, profile analysis, and most recently, predictive analytics. Balliet-Antorcha's team also develops probability scores on product propensity, purchase timing, and attrition by integrating data from transactional behavior, marketing response, and online metrics. Especially in today's economic climate, she says, predictive analytics offer a competitive edge.
"Listening to customer preferences and insights and communicating with them in the way they want us to is a heavy analytical process," Balliet-Antorcha says. "When we look at our target customers we don't look at demographics, we look at mind-set. We call them spirited; they're participatory, gregarious, and socially fun people."
Carnival believes that serving the customer ultimately serves the rest of the organization. Data that Balliet-Antorcha's team collects is used throughout the organization to create a consistent customer experience, most noticeably by the teams on the ships who know what product offerings and activities to plan based on who will be on board.
"We rely on discretionary spending, so we need to keep people from walking away disappointed," Balliet-Antorcha says. "We've been focusing on the people who already have an affinity for our brand. In the past two years we've seen a double-digit increase in repeat purchases."
Balliet-Antorcha is also working to integrate Carnival's call center data with the rest of the organization, to complete the 360-degree customer view. The company deployed improved Web analytics, which Balliet-Antorcha hopes to incorporate into the cruise line's data hub this year.
"There should be a subtitle under database marketing that says 'customer insights educator' because it's our responsibility to show our leadership team how these initiatives improve profitability," she says. "Sometimes you need to go out on a limb and say it will improve customer service and show how satisfaction is measurable."