Big data sheds light on the true customer experience

You may believe you’re delivering great customer experience, but do customers agree? A Qmatic survey across 100 UK retail decision makers and 500 consumers found that while the vast majority of retailers (82 per cent) thought they delivered good  customer experiences, most customers didn’t agree (72 per cent).

The differences between businesses’ perception of customer experience and the experience customers actually have matters a great deal because up to a third of customers quit if they’re unhappy.

so how can businesses do more to delight their customers? Big data can help

Big data is more than your transactional data such as regional sales reports, accounts information and so on. It also includes external information such as customer experience surveys, data purchased from third parties and perhaps even previous purchase information from third parties. It can also include data previously rejected as too hard to analyse, as big data analytics solutions become sufficiently sophisticated to handle that information.

You can be flexible with the data you use. For example, Tivo Research Analytics (TRA) combines set-top box television viewing data with supermarket and drugstore point-of-sale transaction information and auto ownership. Netflix combines customer preferences, viewing records, searches, locations and more to help it deliver streaming services and develop its own content.

British Airways uses big data analysis to improve customer service with its “Know Me” programIt has combined information about 20 million customers with its own loyalty program to deliver improved service at every touch point: online, on the phone, even in-flight where cabin crew know passenger preferences as they board. BA also uses this data to introduce targeted offerings.

Joe Boswell, British Airways’ head of customer analysis, tells “We’re essentially trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favourite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case, it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers. This is just the start. The system has a myriad of possibilities for the future.”

Multiple businesses already use big data systems to predict customer preferences and to boost overall satisfaction with their services, but the potential is much, much bigger. This is because big data analytics is capable of interrogating information previously rejected as noise to find fresh insights and patterns that may not already be known. Some large retailers use such analytics to help them figure out what to stock in specific stores.

For example, Tesco has learned that a 10 degree rise in the weather leads to 300% more barbeque meat sold, 45% more lettuce, 50% more coleslaw and 25% fewer sprouts. The company has also learned to assess other factors (date, time, local preferences) in making decisions concerning stock and discount.

Information is power, but the game is as old as business itself: “People think it’s all brand new, but it’s really the same thing it’s always been: making sure you give customers the things they value to increase their loyalty,” says Bob Hayes of Business over Broadway.

Interest in big data is intensifying rapidly. IDG Enterprise anticipates big data solutions will be in use across three quarter’s of global enterprises by 2017. This will create challenges like storage of huge quantities of data from multiple sources and a shortage of computer scientists equipped to analyse the information. This is critical as it means most enterprises will seek third party big data services to work with in order to enjoy the advantages of exploiting this information.

Find out much more about how big data can help you deliver great digital customer experiences at Orange Business.

Stewart Baines

photo : T. L. Furrer - Fotolia.jpg

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.