Customer data is an important asset for organizations. Forward-thinking business leaders are investing in companywide strategies to collect customer information, measure and analyze it, and then use it to make improvements to the customer experience.

According to Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee, today's multichannel reality is making it even more essential for companies to leverage data to understand their customers' journeys. "Organizations need to understand how they're doing in the eyes of their customers, [identify] areas of improvements, and benchmark themselves," Freed notes.

Smart data analysis also allows organizations to plan ahead. Freed notes data can be used to determine the next step that a customer is likely to take and prepare for it. Craig Vore, Outsell's design and integration lead, says if a regular customer suddenly stops doing business, a company can reach out to determine the problem, giving it a chance to retain a loyal customer.


Further, customer data gives organizations the necessary information to send personalized messages, allowing them to remain relevant to their clients. Caesars Entertainment, House of Fraser, and Major League Soccer are among the organizations leveraging data to improve the customer experience.


House of Fraser Makes Data Fashionable

British high-end department store House of Fraser wants every customer who walks into one of its outlets or shops online to feel like a VIP. "Our vision is to be the premium department store of choice," notes Robin Terrell, House of Fraser's executive director for multichannel and international.

In order to achieve this goal, the organization collects and uses customer feedback across the whole company. Terrell explains that data always had an important part in the company's trade meetings, which all start with numbers. However, over the past year, business leaders made a slight change and are now starting each meeting with a two-page summary of customer feedback, both good and bad. "This has made a real difference to our business because it's easy to become detached from the customer," Terrell notes.

With the help of ForeSee, House of Fraser has real-time visibility into customer feedback, helping the company be more agile in making the necessary changes. For example, recently House of Fraser noticed that its satisfaction score dipped. Terrell says careful analysis revealed a fault in the website presentation which was addressed immediately. "Without the immediacy of feedback, it would have taken us a few days to fix," he notes.

Data has also helped House of Fraser make improvements to its in-store experience. Terrell notes that fashion makes up 80 percent of the company's business and the fitting room experience is a big contributor to customer satisfaction. Terrell says analyzing customer data helped validate House of Fraser's assumptions that fitting room service is the biggest driver of satisfaction and customers prioritize having a staff member close by to help them find another item or give them advice. Such insight has helped the company's decisions to invest in the fitting room experience. "Data helps drive the business case," Terrell notes, adding that in-depth customer data analysis is especially important during an economic downturn when organizations are very careful about their spending. 


Caesars Puts High Stakes on Data

A self-confessed data-driven organization, Caesars Entertainment collects a lot of customer information in a bid to improve the experience. And the company plans to step up its strategy in January to continue leveraging data for customer service improvements.

According to Chris Kahle, web analytics manager at Caesars, the entertainment organization strives to understand its loyal customers, both online and offline, to determine their preferences and be able to provide them with customized rewards and incentives. Through its Total Rewards program, Caesars is able to collect information about every interaction its customers make, starting from when they're on the website booking a stay at one of its hotels to restaurants they visit while at one of Caesars' properties. This information is being used to tailor the online experience, allowing Caesars to send offers that are specific to a previous stay. When customers log in to their Total Rewards accounts, they are directed to a page that contains a high-level overview of offers they're entitled to and recommendations that are personalized to their preferences. Kahle explains that if a customer's last stay was at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace, he will receive offers related to that property, including restaurants or shows.

However, Kahle says the company is only scratching the surface with the information it has and plans to do much more with the data next year when it launches the new website that it's building with the help of Adobe CQ. Kahle says the company will be using data to better understand customers' preferences, for example differentiating between customers who are more gambling-oriented and those who are more likely to go to restaurants. Further, the organization is working to merge its online and offline data, allowing for cross-pollination that will lead to a better customer experience. For example, a VIP host who is welcoming a guest will be cognizant that the customer had searched for restaurants online and can have a more meaningful conversation that is sensitive to that person's preferences.

The company is also planning to do more to address independent travelers who are not members of Caesars' Total Rewards program. Kahle explains that these customers present a unique challenge since at the moment the company cannot determine whether they are new or repeat customers. The company is working on creating different segments to better understand these customers and be able to tailor their online experiences.


Major League Soccer Scores Big With Data

While almost all organizations are collecting some form of data, with a few being more advanced than others, a common problem is that this information is dispersed in various repositories and breaking down these data silos. This presents a hurdle for companies which, despite the copious amount of data they collect, struggle to have a 360-degree picture of their customers.

Major League Soccer, which represents 19 clubs, faced a similar situation. The company was collecting its own engagement and transaction data as well as ticketing information that was being gathered by its individual member clubs. However, the information was not being shared properly internally. Charlie Shin, Major League Soccer's fan engagement and CRM leader, notes that while the league was collecting very valuable information about fan engagement, including the social activity and merchandise purchasing history of individual fans, clubs were only in possession of season ticket data.

Cognizant of the value of potential insights, Major League Soccer implemented SAS in order to develop a centralized data warehouse that gives individual clubs access to data that was available, but not visible to them. For example, individual teams now have a full view of how their fans are engaging with them on various levels, including whether they buy merchandise or engage with the team on social media. This insight is helping the soccer clubs become more customer oriented. Shin says: "They now understand how different fans are engaging with the brand."

Such insight is essential in helping the teams improve the customer experience, including reaching out to their individual fans with more relevant information. Shin explains that this information is also providing clubs with a better understanding of fans' service needs, for example, by predicting the risk of a season ticket holder not renewing his membership for the following year.

In order to have better insights, the league is also tapping into social media data, especially since the core fan base is made up of tech-driven, very social, and digitally oriented Gen Y supporters.