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Market Research, Business Intelligence & Big Data: Have we Forgotten about Human Data?

The annual pilgrimage to the ESOMAR Conference took place last week in Dublin. I heard that there was much discussion, both on and off the stage, about Big Data and the future of market research. Hopefully, the whole profession will get behind one initiative, instead of each individually trying to “solve world peace” on their own!

This week sees the second Swiss BI-Day taking place in Geneva and there will no doubt be similar discussions about Big Data and the future of Business Intelligence.

It appears that Big Data is not just a buzzword or a commodity that has been likened to oil; it has become the centre of a power struggle between different industries. Many professionals seem to be vying for the right to call themselves “THE Big Data experts”.

This got me thinking about the future of data analysis in general and the business usage of Big Data more specifically. There seems to be no stopping the inflow of information into organisations these days, whether gathered through market research, which is proportionally becoming smaller by the day, or from the smartphones, wearables and RFID chips, that get added to every conceivable article, more generally referred to as the IoT (Internet of Things). Who will, and how are we to better manage it all? That is the question that needs answering – soon! (>>Tweet this<<)

Data Science Central published an interesting article earlier this year called “The Awesome Ways Big Data Is Used Today To Change Our World”. Already being a few months old probably makes it a little out-of-date, in this fast changing world we live in, but I think it still makes fascinating reading. It summarises ten ways that data is being used:

  1. Underst anding and Targeting Customers
  2. Underst anding and Optimizing Business Processes
  3. Personal Quantification and Performance Optimization
  4. Improving Healthcare and Public Health
  5. Improving Sports Performance
  6. Improving Science and Research
  7. Optimizing Machine and Device Performance
  8. Improving Security and Law Enforcement
  9. Improving and Optimizing Cities and Countries
  10. Financial Trading

Many of these are not new in terms of data usage nor business analysis. What is new, is that the data analysis is mostly becoming automated and in real-time. In addition, the first and second items, which were largely the domains of market research and business intelligence, are now moving more into the h ands of IT and the data scientists. Is this a good or bad thing?

Another article posted on Data Informed a few months after the above one, talks about The 5 Scariest Ways Big Data is Used Today   and succinctly summarises some of the dynamic uses of data today. The author of both pieces, Bernard Marr, wrote that “This isn’t all the stuff of science fiction or futurism. Because the technology for big data is advancing so rapidly, rules, regulations, and best practices can’t keep up.” He gives five examples of where data analysis raises certain ethical questions:

  1. Predictive policing. In February 2014, the Chicago Police Department sent uniformed officers to make “ custom notification visits to individuals whom they had identified, using a computer generated list, as likely to commit a crime in the future. Just one step towards the “Minority Report”?
  2. Hiring algorithms. Companies are using computerized learning systems to filter and hire job applicants. For example, some of these algorithms have found that, statistically, people with shorter commutes are more likely to stay in a job longer, so the application asks, “How long is your commute?” Statistically, these considerations may be accurate, but are they fair?
  3. Marketers target vulnerable individuals. Data brokers have begun selling reports that specifically highlight and target financially vulnerable individuals. For example, a data broker might provide a report on retirees with little or no savings to a company providing reverse mortgages, high-cost loans, or other financially risky products. Would we want our own families targeted in this way?
  4. Driving analysis devices may put you in the wrong insurance category. Since 2011, car insurance companies like Progressive and Axa, have offered a small device you can install in your car to analyze your driving habits and hopefully get you a better rate. But some of the criteria for these lower rates are inherently discriminatory. For example, insurance companies like drivers who stay off the roads late at night and don’t spend much time in their cars, but poorer people are more likely to work the late shift and to have longer commutes to work — both of which would be strikes against them when it comes to calculating their auto insurance rates.
  5. Walmart and Target determine your life insurance rates. OK, not directly, but Deloitte has developed an algorithm, based on “non-traditional third-party sources” that can predict your life expectancy from your buying habits. They claim that they can accurately predict if people have any one of 17 diseases, including diabetes, tobacco-related cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression, by analyzing their buying habits.

Marr starts this article by very briefly discussing privacy and inherent biases in data. I think these issues are far more urgent than deciding whether it is market research, business intelligence or data scientists that are in charge of the actual data analysis. Perhaps we all need to work together so that the “Human” side of data is not forgotten? After all, most data comes from people, is understood – if no longer strictly analysed – by people, for the benefit of people, to help change people’s behaviour. What do you think? Join the conversation and let your voice be heard. (I’ll be presenting this very topic at the Swiss BI-Day this coming Tuesday, so I do hope that you will pop by and listen)

Winning Customer Centricity BookThis post includes concepts and images from Denyse’s book  Winning Customer Centricity. You can buy it in Hardback, Paperback or EBook format in the members area, where you will also find downloadable templates and usually a discount code too.

The book is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook and in all good bookstores. If you prefer an Audiobook version, or even integrated with Kindle using Amazon’s new Whispersync service, it’s coming soon!

Halloween Scares & Solutions for Marketing

Halloween is coming, even earlier than usual this year, judging from all the retail displays already in the shops! Although it is now more associated with children dressing up in scary costumes and dem anding “Trick or Treat”,  it is actually a Christian remembrance of the dead on the eve of All Saints’ Day.

So what does that have to do with marketing? Apart from the obvious effort of many companies to include the pumpkin shape, flavour or aroma in almost every product they make, at least in the US, marketing too has its scary moments doesn’t it?

What scares you marketers the most, or to put it another way, what keeps you up at night? One of the most recent studies on the topic, issued a few months ago, comes from The Marketing Institute (MSI) and was summarised by David Aaker of Prophet as seven issues, which he divided into three tiers:

TIER ONE: The hot topics

  1. Underst anding customers and the customer experience with particular emphasis on the impact of social and digital.
  2. Big data and analytics, with how they will impact predictive modelling and the marketing mix.

TIER TWO: The other concerns

  1. Following on from the opportunities of Big Data, the next concern is Marketing Accountability and its ROI.
  2. Developing marketing excellence and the new skills required such as visualisation and storytelling.
  3. Leveraging digital/social/mobile technology and linking it to CRM
  4. Creating and communicating enduring customer value and how to measure it in the social environment.
  5. Developing and delivering integrated marketing

TIER THREE: Previous concerns getting under control

  1. Innovating products and services
  2. Global marketing
  3. Segmentation
  4. Optimizing social contracts

What I find interesting from this and similar studies that I wrote about last year, is the overlap between many of these challenges. Marketers are really concerned about the wealth of information that they have on their customers and how they can manage to turn it all into insights, for more profitable actions and engagement. I therefore thought it would be useful to summarise the “so whats” of all these current challenges and propose actions that will help marketers get these issues under control, so they can change their scares into solutions:

Underst anding the customer experience

SCARE: With the exciting new worlds of social and digital taking up much of the thoughts of marketers, they are struggling to find ways to think integration, but that is the only way to underst and today’s customers. 

SOLUTION: Starting from the customers’ perspective makes looking at the bigger picture much easier. Instead of thinking single channels of communication, think connection and engagement. (>>Tweet this<<). Instead of thinking purchase and loyalty, think advocacy. Creating value for the customer goes way beyond providing a product or service these days. (>>Tweet this<<)

Knowing what to do with data

SCARE: We have gone from an information rich environment to complete data overload. This challenge definitely keeps a lot of marketers up at night. They feel as if they have to use everything available but at the same time are also aware that they are incapable of doing so.

SOLUTION: The answer lies in the old “eating an elephant” solution. Rather than worrying about what is not being managed, marketers should review what they already have, and only then decide what else they could use to help answer all their questions. There is so much information available today that we can’t work with it all, but we can ask better questions that can be answered by analysing this data. Start with the right question and then use the data you have to answer it. (>>Tweet this<<)

Engaging customers

SCARE: Every br and has some sort of web presence today. Whether that is a website, Facebook page or Twitter account, most companies have rushed into social media without a detailed underst anding of why they are there. If this is your case, it’s time to take a step back.

SOLUTION: How are you connecting with your customers today, both offline and online? The two should be complementary. However if there is too much overlap and you are doing the same on both, then you are wasting your money. You are also wasting your money if you don’t know why you are online in the first place! (>>Tweet this<<)

I had a client once who wanted help in updating one of their websites. In running a first analysis of all their websites, I found that more than 80% of them were being visited by less than 30 visitors a month! We cancelled all those websites and invested the money in the remaining active ones, improving both their ROI and the engagement with their customers. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own web statistics?

Marketing ROI

SCARE: Marketers are scared for their budgets and even more so for their jobs. With the rise in the importance of technology and IT, marketers need to move from br anding  and creativity alone, to embracing data and analytics much more than they have done in the past.

SOLUTIONBecome friends with your CIO and see IT as a support of rather than as a threat to your budgets. Yes managing new technologies and data analysis will need more investment, but that won’t (shouldn’t) come at the expense of br and building. In fact with the increased power of the customer and the number of channels on which to reach them, marketing needs increased budgets to be where and when the customer dem ands connection and information. (>>Tweet this<<)

Acquiring new skills

SCARE: As already mentioned, marketers must get comfortable with large amounts of different data. They also need better ways to analyse and make sense of it all, often in near real-time. This is a challenge in itself, but the new skills they have to acquire don’t stop there. They also need to turn their information into actionable insights and then share them with the rest of the business to gain acceptance and impact.

SOLUTION: Your market research and insight colleagues are the best people to help in making sense of the data and developing actionable insights. It will be the marketer’s job to share these with the rest of the business in a more creative way. Visualisation & storytelling are the new must-have skills for today. No longer can you expect PowerPoint presentations to excite and engage your C-suite executives – if they ever did!

These are five of the most pressing current scares of marketing and some simple solutions to address them. Are you challenged by something else? If so, add a comment below and I’ll help you find a solution. Or if you prefer, you can contact me here.

C3Centricity used an image from Microsoft in this post.

 

 

Try a New Perspective on Business Intelligence: How to get More Impact & Answers

Last week I presented at the first Swiss Business Intelligence Day. It was an inspiring conference to attend, with world-class keynote speakers opening the day. They included Professor Stephane Garelli from IMD, Philippe Nieuwbourg from Decideo  and Hans Hultgren from Genesee Academy.

After such an illustrious start, you can imagine that I was more than a little nervous to present my very non-IT perspective of business intelligence. However, the presentation did seem to go down well, so I want to share with you some of the ideas I talked about. Not surprisingly, with my passion for customer centricity and always with the end-user in mind, I took quite a different perspective from that of the majority of IT experts who were present.

BI should Collaborate More

With the explosion of data sources and the continuous flow of information into a company, managing data will become a priority for everyone.

statistic id forecast big data marketThe Big Data market, which more than doubled last two years, is forecast to triple in the next four, according to Statista. BI will have to exp and its perspective, work with more varied sources of information and exp and its client base.

In the past BI was inward looking. It ran data-mining exercises, reviewed corporate performance, developed reports and occasionally dashboards. It was, and still is in many organisations, mostly concerned with operational efficiencies, cost-cutting and benchmarking.

How business intelligence fits into the data world of businessThe above plot is my own, simplified view of how BI fits into data management within most organisations today. The other three quadrants are:

  • Competitive intelligence (CI) uses external competitor knowledge to support internal decision-making. Although BI is sometimes considered to be synonymous with CI because they both support decision-making, there are differences. BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data. CI gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors.
  • Investor Relations (IR) uses internal data to get external people, such as shareholders, the media or the government, to support and protect the company and its views.
  • Market Research (MR) on the other h and is mostly outward looking. It studies customers’ behaviours & attitudes, measures images & satisfaction, and tries to underst and feelings & opinions. That information is then used, primarily by marketing, to develop actions and communications for these same customers.

The four quadrants, even today, usually work in isolation, but that will have to change with this new data-rich environment in which we are working.

BI is Ripe for Change

 

According to a recent (Jan 2014) Forbes article, BI is at a tipping point. It will need to work in new ways because:

  • it will be using both structured and unstructured data
  • there will be a consolidation of suppliers
  • the internet of things will send more and more information between both products and companies.
  • thanks to technology, data scientists will spend more time on information management & less time on data preparation. At present it is estimated that they spend 80% of their time on data cleaning, integration and transformation, and only 20% on its analysis!

Google glass provides access to business intelligence

In February GigaOM echoed these thoughts, claiming that we are not in BI 2.0 but rather 4.0. They said the volume of data and the number of people now exposed to it, makes data availability to everyone essential. No longer does BI involve only the CEO and IT specialists, it concerns everybody.

Google glass provides access to business intelligence
Google glass, as tested by Virgin
, is a good example of this. It delivers real-time, on time and relevant information to Virgin’s hosts and hostesses, to meet, greet and advise its passengers. Their customer support team can accompany their VIP guests and warn them of delays and gate changes as they happen. Google Glass enables them to get out from behind their desks and interact more with the guests they are trying to please.

BI must Deliver More Synthesised Knowledge

According to a recent Business Intelligence report on management’s opinion of their data, they are currently frustrated. They say that it comes from many disparate sources and is rarely if ever available in real-time. They can’t easily access it without the help of IT and it takes too long to customise it to what they need. What is particularly interesting in the findings, is that management were not saying that they don’t need information; in fact it actually looks as if they want to have access to more data. BUT more of it in a way that makes it easy to find what they want, when they want it.

Another finding from the survey shows executives’ thoughts about data delivery. Currently they are getting their information primarily through emails and spreadsheets. I find this shocking that today we still expect management to take the time to wade through all the data in order to draw their own conclusions. Less than one in eight of the C-suite is getting dashboards, which is their preferred medium (>>Tweet this<<). They also want mobile delivery so that they can access information on the go.

This study provides us with a simple plan to satisfy their needs and to help us meet our own challenges of data abundance. This is what we should prioritize, since we can no longer continue to do what we’ve always done in the same way we’ve always done it. The BI priorities are as simple as ABC; accessibility, business impact and consistency (>>Tweet this<<).

BI needs to Provide Simplified Access

Information should be provided where and when it is needed and in such a way as to have most impact on the business. This means making it easy to review, and quick and simple to draw conclusions. This is why the number one dem and from business is dashboards.

Dashboards have the advantage of imposing consistency (>>Tweet this<<) so no time is lost in underst anding what the information is showing. With the availability of more information, comes the challenge to make it available to more people. And more people will also mean more and different needs.

Business Intelligence data warehouses are like a tree of knowledgeTo underst and the accessibility challenge I find the tree is a great metaphor for what we struggle to achieve. The roots can be compared to all the different sources of information we have at our disposal. The trunk is like all the integrated information that is reported in dashboards and the branches, twigs and leaves are the different data warehouses we create.

Whilst a one-page overview is sufficient for management, others will need greater granularity. Therefore we need to make information available at different levels of detail. My experience suggests three types of information sharing.

  • The leaves are like data warehouses where the raw or nearly raw data sits
  • The twigs are the information repositories where analysed data and information resides
  • And the branches are the knowledge libraries where the integrated actionable insights sit

What I have learned from setting up numerous data warehouses, information repositories and knowledge libraries, is that it is not easy. Not because of any technical complexity, but because of winning the needed  internal support for the project and getting the essential acceptance for global access to the information. It takes more than technology, it takes a culture change in many cases too, and this is the real challenge. Stopping the “information is power” mentality means finding ways to counter the opposition who claim  confidentiality of their own data whilst also requesting access to everyone else’s. In addition, even if people need information, they will generally not make the effort to go looking for it, if there is an easier way, such as by asking someone else! All these issues need to be resolved for an integrated database project to succeed.

Business Impact

One way to encourage the culture change mentioned earlier, is to demonstrate the business impact of what you are providing. The desired impact won’t come by delivering spreadsheets, it will come from dashboards (>>Tweet this<<).

So how do you summarise a company in a one-page dashboard, especially those which are present in multiple categories, globally? Well, often the simplest way is not to try to cover the total business, but rather the top categories and markets that would cover 70% – 80% of total sales. In most cases this would be sufficient to underst and the main priorities for management.

Of course at category level each business unit should be able to get access to more detailed information, as should the regional presidents, if you are working in such a complex business environment.

The real power of dashboard information will come from data integration, where both internal and external information are synthesised, for a holistic view of the business. I have worked on several projects that combined internal information with consumer data for a complete business report. The consumer information came from promotions, call centres and CRM activities, and was combined with market research on product and communications performance, to provide a solid base of consumer underst anding. This can then be presented alongside the more usual financial information that executives are already receiving. Having a complete overview of the business has far more impact than individual, silo’d summaries and enables management to make decisions more quickly and easily.

Increase Consistency

Another challenge when setting up and integrating databases, is in the harmonisation of their master data. When you are working with consumer data, this challenge can be multiplied by ten if not one hundred. For example, consumers will talk about a pizza, without specifying the br and, sub-br and, variant, flavour, packaging and size that would be used by the business to define it. So you have to find a way to translate what the consumer is saying, into the products as recorded internally.

The consistency of the master data will even increase in importance and complexity, with the expansion in available data sources. In addition, the fact that more people will get involved, will confound things even more, since their needs will differ.

Asking Better Questions of the Data

Accessibility, business impact and consistency are vital to the success of the new BI’s data management and usage, but I feel the urge to add one more thing. That of asking the right questions of the data. Although BI is used to asking questions, I think Market Research (MR) are the real experts in questioning. Therefore they should be involved in ensuring integrated databases are combined in such a way as to permit easy extraction of whatever level of information is required, or whatever perspective might be taken.

For example, BI is used to running forecasts. Those usually start from a review of past data and current reality to develop forecasts based on complex algorithms. They will do this within their teams with perhaps input from finance. MR on the other h and, is more likely to work from societal trends and develop plausible future scenarios, brainstorming across the organisation to gather a wide array of perspectives. Both perspectives are complementary and combined, they make a powerfully readied organisation.

Making more data more accessible to more people will certainly help this question development, as I think getting the right answers depends upon asking the right question, don’t you?

These were just a few of the ideas I shared at the Swiss BI Day in Geneva. How do you see business intelligence adapting and changing as a result of the increased information availability happening today?

C³Centricity used images and graphs from Statista, Microsoft and Virgin in this post.

Does your Organisation Really Need a Market Research Department? And in the Future?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about New Marketing; how communication is now all about engagement, how the consumer is boss and such like. But there has been very little said about New Market Research, perhaps because there isn’t any! If you’re concerned by this situation, whether you work in marketing, market research or a completely different area, then read on for some thoughts on how this situation can and must change.

Earlier this year I wrote about the future of market research / insight departments and what researchers need to do within their organisation to improve their image and perceived value. This week I want to take a wider look at the profession in general. 

Current Perception of Market Research

According to  Wikipedia, Marketing is “The process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers” The definition of  Market Research is “Any organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy”.

What is interesting in comparing these two definitions is the difference in appreciation of the value to business of the two. Marketing is said to be a “critical function”, whereas Market Research is said to be “very important”. Perhaps this is why Market Research Departments continue to be hammered, their budgets are constantly under pressure and their value to the business is questioned.

Well, things are about to change, or at least there is an opportunity for this, if researchers take up the incredible chance offered to them in today’s world of information (over?) abundance. You can’t continue to do the same old same old when marketing, and more importantly the consumer, is clearly on the move.

 

What Business gets from Market Research

I think that one of the biggest problems that Market Research has (continues to have) is that Marketing and Management in general, find it too complex. What is often delivered from market research, BY researchers,  tends to be numbers and findings, not underst anding, insight and recommendations.

We no longer need market research to share the numbers and information today. More and more often, these are coming automatically into companies from an ever-growing number of sources, and a lot of it is even in real-time, something market research results never were! Think sensors on products, GPS on smart phones, retail purchases with debit / credit / loyalty cards, social media interactions …. DataShaka recently wrote in their The Lab an interesting perspective on data management and information sources which you might want to check out.

That’s a lot of data; indeed Aaron Zornes, chief research officer of The MDM Institute, was recently quoted in Information Management as saying that “a typical large company with (has) 14,000 or so databases on average”. And most of that data will be just sitting around in IT storage systems, rarely reviewed and even less likely to be integrated for meaningful knowledge development. It needs analysts and who better to interpret the meaning of all this data than market research?

What Market Research could Offer Business

 

What an incredible opportunity! The question is whether the market research profession is ready to take it up; whether researchers are ready to move from data gatherers (alone!) to interpreters and storytellers. Signs of the urgency for this change are everywhere. In a recent report by BusinessIntelligence.com (you can download the full report there), one of the conclusions drawn was that CEO’s are not getting what they need (from Big Data). Instead of Dashboards, they were more likely to be getting emails and spread sheets!

The market research profession took a small step to reinventing itself with the introduction of insight development, but this is still well within their comfort zone, and still not being done as effectively and consistently as it should. Today, market research / insight departments are being asked to make a much bigger leap into the realms of unknown territory, even for those already comfortable working with BigData.

The Questions you Need to Answer

In conclusion, here is what I believe all market research suppliers, agency and client-side researchers should be asking themselves today:

  1. Am I ready to move from data gatherer and sharer, to synthesizer and interpreter?
  2. Could I agree to the information I will be required to analyse NOT coming from statistically validated, representative samples of clearly identified populations?
  3. Will I accept that I have little control over the data sources I do use and even less over the information that is streaming into the organisation for all to see?
  4. Am I willing to shift from sending emails and spreadsheets, or presenting graphs and data, to speaking about how the world and consumers are changing?
  5. Would I happily move from sharing descriptions of data and knowledge to telling stories built from it?
  6. Can I get comfortable speaking about maybe just one or two consumers rather than about large(ish) groups of them?
  7. Am I capable of accepting that true insight development doesn’t come from one study or database, but from information integration of multiple sources?
  8. Am I ready to give up the name of my profession as market researcher?

If you can’t answer YES to all of these questions, then I believe you should consider changing jobs, before you find yourself redundant and replaced by the information analytic, machine-learning “robots” of the future.

What do you think? Is it already too late for market research? Can the profession reinvent itself? ESOMAR, which claims to be “The essential organisation for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide” has been asking a lot of the right questions about the future of the profession recently, but it is up to researchers everywhere to make the change happen. Are you going to join the lead now, or follow reluctantly when your own management questions whether they really need a department that clings to the old ways of collecting and analysing information?

Let me know how you feel about your own market research position, whether you are a member of a supplier or client-side organisation. Are there other challenges or opportunities I forgot to mention? What name would you give to your future profession?

Need help in updating and reinventing your own market research department and responsibilities? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Solving the “Digital Experience Conundrum” for Large U.S. Banks

Being based in Switzerl and certainly has its advantages, but we are not all multi-millionaires from attracting the fortunes of foreigners, as the press sometimes likes to portray us. It was therefore a pleasure for me to receive this guest post from Bob Thompson, CEO of Customer Think, on retail banking. In it, Bob talks about the mis-match there often is, between customer and bank priorities when it comes to information integration and use. He concludes by saying that US banking is ripe for change. In today’s fast-paced world, I think the same could be said about many industries, perhaps even yours. Enjoy:  

I think one of the key issues faced by retail banks ( and indeed most retail businesses) is what I’ve dubbed the “digital experience conundrum.” This is driven by two powerful trends:

1. Consumers are embracing digital technology, via the Web and smartphones

2. Companies want to encourage this digital shift to improve efficiency and cut costs

The conundrum is that automation can reduce opportunities for more engaging, human experiences that build loyalty. And increased loyalty is a key outcome for customer experience initiatives.

Let me say up front that there are no easy answers here. Retail banks must “go digital” and the large banks certainly are. In fact, recent  PeopleMetrics research found that “customer-facing technology (mobile, digital)” and “internal technology / customer-facing processes” were ranked by banks as their first and second priorities.

Unfortunately, customers have different priorities. They ranked “products” (mainly fees and rates) and “put customer first” as their top priorities, as you can see in this slide presented by Kate Feather of PeopleMetrics at our recent  CX Forum webinar focused on Retail Banking.

peoplemetrics bank priorities misaligned

In an online poll with our live audience, 73% said they believed that the shift to digital experiences would improve customer loyalty. And Bruce Kasanoff of  Now Possible argued that banks should use technology to provide more personalized and relevant services, as you can see here.

kasanoff bank simplify automate elevate

While I agree with Bruce, I’m not convinced that technology alone is the key to driving loyalty. I think it has everything to do with how the technology is used, and the leadership and culture of the organization. Simply automating for efficiency and convenience is table stakes in banking.

What does drive loyalty? In Kate’s research, they found that community banks do a much better job creating an emotional bond in relationship where customers feel “valued, appreciated, and cared for,” as you can see in this chart.

peoplemetrics bank loyalty factors

Now, some have argued (in LinkedIn discussions on this topic) that higher NPS scores don’t really matter. Large banks are doing just fine, thank you very much, without all that touchy feely stuff offered by community banks. One comment by Serge Milman in a LinkedIn discussion group summed up this sentiment:

“Many Banks ( and Credit Unions) have been unable to convert their high customer satisfaction scores / high NPS to customer loyalty as measured by hard quantitative factors such as wallet-share, revenue and profitability.”

And indeed, in our audience poll, the top “major obstacle,” selected by nearly two-thirds of the attendees, was “ROI unclear.” Technology was No. 2 at nearly 50%.

For now, it may be true that large US banks can grow profitably without building “raving fans.” Look at their  ACSI scores  and you’ll find all the large US banks well below the industry average of 77. “All others” (which includes community and regional banks) earn a score of 79.

OK, so maybe the problem is that banks can’t be big  and engaging. They are mutually exclusive! Then how do you explain the  high loyalty scores of USAA? Somehow USAA, a very large and complex financial services business, is able to be emotionally engaging while also investing in digital technology.

My take is that large US retail banks are stuck in their old ways, and are successful enough that they don’t see the need to change. Yet.

Competitive stress could come from community banks that are being more aggressive in wooing customers with better service and higher rates. The partnership with Kasasa looks like an interesting way to shore up technology shortcomings.

Personally, I think the issue is leadership. Large US banks are doing well enough that they’ll stick with minor innovations (e.g. digital channels) around the status quo. They won’t focus on building genuinely loyal (retained and emotional engaged) customer relationships because retention is good enough.

That seems short sighted to me, but then, I don’t have a bonus riding on hitting a quarterly target. George Self said it well in a LinkedIn discussion:

The banking industry is ripe for structural change. The reinvention of banking is not many years away. I for one am looking forward to it.

Me too.

The slide images for this post were sourced from CustomerThink’s CX Forum webinar on June 6, 2013, sponsored by PeopleMetrics.  Full recording and slides are available for download here (free registration required). My sincere thanks to Kate Feather and Bruce Kasanoff for their outst anding contributions to our CX thought leadership program.

Need help in making maximum use of all your information? Let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

If you would like to know more about working with and integrating data, whether Big or small, check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

This post has been adapted from one that was first publised on Customer Think on June 11th 2013

Improving Customer Centricity in Hospitality

The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be customer centric as it relies on satisfying its guests, no?

However, it has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG), as I shared recently with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerl and. If you would like to learn what I revealed, then read on.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart. They both are founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer. However, as the world changes, customer dem ands increase and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these dem ands in order to ensure continued growth.

During my short presentation earlier this week, these are some of the points that I covered:

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of talk recently on moving from a return on investment to a return on relationships. Whilst I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement, since honestly, who wants to have a relationship with a br and?! Br ands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back; to the br and, the product, their website, their communications. Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this.

#2. Build Relationships with Strangers

Customer centricity means building relationships with strangersWhilst the hospitality industry has been based on serving and satisfying its guests, in todays connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These might be the friends of current guest, which for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook. This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging these friends, whom one might assume are potential clients since they are probably similar to their current guests.

#3. Value is more Important than Price

Having additional control in their lives today means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their peers influence their decisions more than does traditional marketing. The internet enables them to compare offers, so they are less interested in bundled propositions,preferring to decide what is best value for them personally for each element.

#4. Renovation is more than Buildings

Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner by building on their individual talents and enable them to develop better products and services. For hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; the Art Series Hotels are another. Check out the latter’s recent ad to underst and better how they excel at underst anding their guests: Art Series Overstay Checkout, or why not review the picture posted on MayaKoba Facebook page?

#5. Loyalty is never really Won

One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer dem ands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today. To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.

#6. Dialogue don’t just Communicate

In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want a say in what they buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints. According to a recent Edison Research, 20% expect a company to answer to their social media post within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means 24/7 monitoring for all organisations if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.

These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.

Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information and contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

4 Tips on International Marketing

This week’s post was prompted by an article recently published by HubSpot about the similarities and differences between the preferences in social media around the world. As the world becomes ever smaller thanks to real-time connection, the challenge to international marketing is above all to remain relevant.

If you work in marketing then you are certainly feeling this. I hope you find the tips below of use and please share your own in the comments below; I would love to hear them.

Should you “Think Global, Act Local”?

This is one of the favourite sayings of many Fortune 100 CEOs. The original phrase has been attributed to Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes. Whilst sourcing information and particularly local production is critical for many food consumers, so is the desire for novelty and new experiences.

In addition, certain countries are seen to be experts in the manufacture of certain products and thus add a perception of positive attributes such as quality, durability or modernity, that local production cannot match. Take for example Germany cars, French wine, Swiss chocolate, American Burgers, Japanese technology.

What are your own customers more interested in, local or global? Whereas the food industry may be becoming more locally biased for everyday purchases, the recent economic crisis encouraged more at-home eating and thus a rise in the desire for more exotic experiences on occasions.

Language is not the only frontier

I am sure you all know that language and not geography is the new frontier, but do you also know what this means in terms of preferences between the social media channels? The Hubspot report does a great job of showing a few of the major differences in habits across what they term to be the 20 most social media savvy countries, but there is a lot more you need to know.

Local country habits may in fact not be relevant for your own particular target group. Social media channels vary widely by demographics and sensitivities for example. David Moth recently wrote a great post about “The top 10 social media fails of 2012” which highlighted some of the issues encountered when you don’t know your audience as well as you should.

All your employees are marketers

You may be head of international or regional marketing, but do you know which of your employees are active online? According to MarketingEasy, most companies have adopted social media “without adequate on-going management, leaving them open to alarming exposure and potentially uncontrollable risk”. It further suggests that the average company has 178 “social media assets” (Websites, Twitter h andles, employee blogs, etc.), yet only 25% of these same organisations offer social business training to their employees.

If your own employees are talking about your company or br ands, wouldn’t it make sense to have a say in what they are sharing, if not to actually guide them in what they are saying? The cost of training will certainly be significantly lower than the cost of a crisis and its subsequent management.

Your CEO may not think “you’re worth it”

To paraphrase a famous slogan from the world of beauty, a recent Marketing Week article announced that 70% of CEOs have lost trust in their marketers. Is yours one of them? If you are not providing the business impact of your actions in a language that the CEO and CFO can underst and – growth, margins, share – then they will question whether or not you are worth your budget AND salary.

Social media and information technology can provide marketing with numerous metrics that would prove the worth of their investments, but marketers have to get comfortable with data and not remain in their cosy, creative world. How about befriending your CIO this week? I went into more detail on why this is important in another post earlier this year: Are your CMO and CIO friends?

International marketing in particular, but the world of marketers in general, is already in flux and the tide of change can no longer be stopped. We cannot remain the keeper of the br and without also becoming the keeper of the customer. What changes are you expecting and are you prepared for them?

If you enjoyed this post then why not share it with your colleagues? They will thank you for the chance to learn more about customer centricity too!

For additional ideas on making your company even more customer centric, please check the wealth of inspiration on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

The shocking truth about managing data: it’s simple!

There is so much talk about information and Big Data these days, every organisation is feeling swamped by the belief that they should be doing more with their data.

From gathering more, to analysing more, and developing more insights about their customers, they are also afraid that their competition is doing more. If this is your situation, then this post will provide the answers you need.

Organisations have always collected information about their customers; it’s nothing new. Whether this is through conducting market research studies, or simply from obtaining details when customers buy something, there is already a lot you can do today to manage your data. However, there is an even bigger opportunity to get a better underst anding of your customers and their needs and desires, when you integrate all the information sources you already have at your disposal. This is why there is so much news about Big Data these days. For all of you that have been shocked into inaction by all this talk, here are some simple ideas that you can use to start your own journey to managing your data, whether Big or Small:

 

#1. Make your information more visible

You are certainly already collecting a lot of data, both internal and external, but it is probably only the former that is shared today; sales, distribution, targets, budgets, plans and forecasts are the most common examples of this. How are all these numbers shared across your organisation? Why not develop a simple dashboard showing the most important numbers?

Using comparisons to competitors, indices and trends are generally the most useful way to provide a quick overview of business, into which viewers can then dig deeper, depending upon their area of interest. You don’t need to show it all on the dashboard, and you shouldn’t try, just keep the summary to the KPI’s that are most relevant for everyone to know.

For more on how to choose your KPI’s see here.

 

#2 Make your information more available

You already have many sources of information, but who has access to it? If you are like most companies, it is the department that collects the data that analyses and uses it, and other departments rarely know of its existence, let alone get to see it. Why not develop a library in which you can store all the information and insights that are gathered and developed, and then give everyone access to it?

This library can be as simple as a folder in a shared file, an Excel folder, an Access database, or a more sophisticated system that can manage budgets, projects and suppliers, as well as the storage of the processes and reports. Some organisations are afraid of doing this for fear of information getting into the h ands of their competitors, but access rights today are easy to manage so that you can significantly reduce such a risk.

You can find more information on knowledge sharing here.

 

#3. Make your information more actionable

Much of the information that companies gather is backward looking, coming from sales and distribution that have already happened or your customers’ consumption and usage habits of last week, last month or last year. Whenever you gather any sort of information, it is a good idea to review the description of your target audience for each br and, in order to ensure it is as complete and as deep as possible. This should not be a once a year exercise, at the time of plan writing, but a continuous process to stay in close contact with your customers’ desires and changing opinions and behavior.

You will almost certainly find that in today’s fast paced world, they have changed quite significantly in some areas. However, even if the current descriptions have not changed substantially, the review of your information should enable you to enrich it further for an even better underst anding. Additionally, in order to build insight and foresight the information you gather needs to be complemented by forward looking metrics such as trends and future scenarios. By looking at how your customers are adapting today, and hypothesizing on their future changes, your organisation will be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges, providing a real competitive advantage.

To learn more about developing your Vision & strategy check here.

 

#4. Make your information more readable

If you have gotten beyond the amount of data that is humanly possible to analyse, you need to consider building a database that can be analysed and modelled with the help of complex analytics. This is when information starts to become BigData and can result in a step-change in the insights an organisation can gain from it.

The sophisticated algorithms that can now be developed can make your information “speak” more clearly about your customer and become usable for many different purposes. You can try hypothesizing about your customers future behaviours, the likely success of your promotions or innovations by region or country, and then get near real-time answers to your questions about them. In some cases, you can even simulate market response to new ideas before they are even launched, in order to identify the best roll-out plan, or even to decide whether or not to launch in the first place.

If you yourself are at this tipping point, as descibed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book of the same name, and need support in developing your integrated marketing database, please contact us so we can share with you some of the successes our clients – your competitors? – have already had.

These are just a few ideas on how to make more and better use of the information you are already gathering. What made the biggest change for your own organisation in the use of the information and knowledge it gathers? Have you reached the tipping point to BigData yet? If you are proud of what you’ve done, why not share it with everyone here?

For more information on developing processes for the integration of information, the development of insights and the internal sharing of  knowledge, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

Advanced analytics can help marketers know their customers

This week’s guest post comes from Ray Eitel-Porter, Executive Director and Leader – Europe, of Opera Solutions, C³Centricity’s Big Data Analytics partner.

Analytics can help marketers know their customers’ preferences, anticipate their behavior – and take the right steps to influence both.

Today’s advanced analytics allow marketers to detect the signals that indicate how customers will behave – whether positively or negatively – and identify the steps they should take to reinforce the former and head off the latter. It’s a truly customer-centric approach that works across various industries.

Opera Solutions, a leading Big Data analytics company with more than 220 data scientists – one of the largest such groups in private industry – is in the forefront of helping companies use the latest predictive analytics to better underst and their customers. Here are some of the successes we have seen when marketers use advanced analytics to connect with their customers:

A company in the hospitality industry achieved far greater customer centricity by creating a customer record with behavioral tags that explain each individual customer’s reaction to a particular offer and help tailor future ones. By scraping information about specific aspects of the offer – a hotel’s amenities, the reputation of its restaurant, types of nearby attractions – a picture of this customer’s likes and dislikes comes into focus over time. Taking this one step further, by comparing a customer’s behavioral signals to other in-market consumers with similar activity – a “twin” – the company can infer that the customer’s “twin” will respond in the same way. The result: it lets the company serve up timely, relevant offers to a broader, more receptive audience.

An analytics-based approach to customer centricity can also detect the faint signals of a customer that’s about to stop using a business or service – sometimes, even before the customer knows it. Marketers can take early action to reverse this fading, through more individualized interventions. For example, a weight-loss company now gathers as many behavioral indicators as possible on each of their customers – focusing heavily on their website behavior. Then they use them for “survivor analysis” – scoring activity on a daily basis to determine if a customer is at risk of attriting. All this allows them to rapidly identify those individuals in danger of leaving in time for the company to take action.

A food retailer has taken customer centricity to the household level. It looks at the purchasing history of customers on a home-by-home basis, compares what one household buys to what similar ones buy, tracks spending in specific categories over time, and pushes recommendations right to the point of sale. The result: an increase in incremental revenue on the order of $100MM, versus a 16 percent reduction in sales in the control group.

These are just a few examples of the new ways that advanced analytics can drive real results for marketers – and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Big Data is an incipient gold mine for marketers, containing information, patterns, indicators, and signals that can refine target markets, serve up better recommendations, help optimize prices and offers, and much more. Advanced analytics are the means to extract the gold from the dross – and they are only going to become more powerful at doing so.

For more on C3Centricity’s partner Opera Solutions, check out our website:  https://www.c3centricity.com/about/

 

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