In my post last week, I talked about how retailers need to start listening to how their customers prefer to shop and engage with their brands in order to design an effective and winning customer experience and engagement strategy.
What I did not tell you last week was how retailers can do this. I’m going to go ahead and use the much-dreaded and often overused words that haunt many a business owner’s dreams: Big Data.
Easy to say, but difficult to master: big data can be your business’ salvation in creating that optimized customer experience that keeps your customers coming back time after time. Going back to the scientific process we all learned (and then quickly forgot) in high school, you need data in order to draw conclusions and create hypotheses on. Blow the dust off your science books, folks: you need data – and to understand what that data means – in order to first understand your customers before designing that customer experience to meet and exceed their expectations.
Big data is not about quantity, it’s about quality and understanding.
So if you’re acting on assumptions without any data to support why you’re doing what you’re doing (like store renovations), you’re a) wasting time and money and b) putting the cart before the horse and hoping to make it into town on time.
Now, let’s debunk some assumptions about big data. If you have lots of data, you do not have big data. Big data is not about quantity, it’s about quality and understanding. And it’s about having the data in the right places/applications at the right time so that you can figure out what it means.
If you have lots of disparate data in separate applications that aren’t talking to each other, you should probably look at data integration service providers. And I’m not just talking about tying together a number of plug-and-play integrations, because if you’re planning to scale your business, these solutions aren’t robust enough for your needs.
Knowing more about your customers is the key to designing the customer experience that they want.
Pool your data, draw some meaning out of it. And then keep collecting more data. Customer loyalty programs are fantastic for this, because it incentivizes your customer base to use their loyalty cards while allowing you deeper insight into their transactions. This is the difference in knowing how much customer X paid for Y items in a transaction (assuming they paid with debit or credit, and not cash), and knowing that Jessica paid $5 for a gourmet Lollipop, as she does every week, and sometimes in-store, and sometimes online, and sometimes she reviews the product online and is a part of a Lollipop fan page on Facebook.
Knowing more about your customers is the key to designing the customer experience that they want. What’s important to them? Why? How can you make that buyer’s journey more pleasurable and memorable? Only when you have the right infrastructure behind your business, only when you’re pooling that data, only when you understand what that data means can you design your best customer experience.
And even then, it’s not done. You should always be striving to improve that customer experience in small increments every day if you want to stay top of the heap.
So dust off your applications and tech, make sure it’s the right fit for your company and everything’s ‘talking’ with each other, and then figure out what it all means.