May 13, 2016 | Steve Wartecker

Customer Analytics: Make Your Data Count

CustomerDataBlog.jpgIn this post, I will discuss the importance of customer analytics and cover a few strategies to make the most of your customer data. I’d like to start by sharing a brief story of what happens when you get this wrong.

 

A couple of weeks ago the Earls restaurant chain made the national news in Canada.  Earls announced they would be the first restaurant chain in North America to serve certified humane beef in all of its restaurants.  In the press release Earls stated “we’ve listened to our customers and were committed to conscious sourcing.”  The release also specified that they will begin sourcing the beef from farms in Kansas instead of Canada.

 

Within minutes there was considerable backlash from angry Canadians – many taking to Twitter to proclaim their love for Alberta beef and demanding a boycott of Earls.  A company spokesperson later responded “the company had to decide what was more important, antibiotic free and certified humane or Canadian, we decided that certified humane was more important to us.”

 

Exactly one week later, the president of Earls apologized and admitted it was a mistake moving away from Alberta beef.  The chain quickly reversed its decision and committed to bringing Alberta beef back. 

 

How did Earls get it so wrong?  I believe they had the right intention – their research was probably telling them humanely produced food was very important to their customers - but, it seems, just not at all costs.  Sourcing food locally and supporting Canadian suppliers is equally as important. After all, Earls got its start in Edmonton, and Alberta is home to nearly half of its restaurants.

 

The recent Earls blunder demonstrates the importance of customer intelligence.

Consumers are more educated than ever before.  Today’s technology and social networks makes it easy for your customers to sift through massive amounts of information to make the best choices.  Customers can research and compare brands, check pricing and study product reviews all at the touch of their fingertips using smartphones and other devices.  What used to require a physical trip into the store now requires just a few taps and swipes. 

 

Although today’s technology has undoubtedly increased the level of competition, it also offers new opportunities to connect with your core customers.  After all, even if you’re not keeping up with the latest techniques, your competitors likely are.

 

Make Your Customer Data Count – Three Strategies

Although most retailers collect and store customer data, many aren’t putting the data to good use or just don’t know how to.  Here are three strategies to help leverage your customer data.  

 

1. Customize promotions and special offers.

Technology has enabled real-time analysis of in-store purchases and even website clicks.  You can determine what promotions are currently effective, what higher margin items are being bought alongside and uncover differences between online vs. in-store.  These insights can be used to make sure the right offers are communicated to the right customers and even the right channels.  The result is a win-win, happy customers and higher profitability.    

 

2. Create a more personalized and enjoyable shopping experience.

Similar to how a music streaming service recommends new songs you might enjoy based on the history of songs you’ve previously listened to, retailers have the ability to customize an individual’s shopping experience.  Analyzing customer loyalty data can help retailers personalize recommendations, inform shoppers of the most relevant promotions to them and uncover cross-sell and up-sell opportunities to help drive revenue. 

 

In addition, customers past purchase behavior, when married to location data, can reveal regional interests, patterns and preferences that can be used to strategically optimize a store’s layout or properly adjust the merchandising mix.  Studies have shown customers are willing to spend more with companies they feel provide superior service.

Read how Tango helped Caleres merchandise locations to better address the requirements of the customer base.

Download Caleres Case Study

3. Provide better customer service

Historical customer data can be used to provide more personalized customer support.  For instance, when a customer calls, agents can greet him with a personalized response like;

 

“Hello Tom, thanks for being a loyal customer since 2009.  I see you recently purchased product “X” or I see your last call was regarding purchase “Y”, is this the same product you’re calling about? “

 

Keeping track of complaint history can also help identify specific SKU’s that may be defective or problematic so you can quickly pull them from shelves and mitigate the issue.   

 

An Excellent Role Model

The Loblaws PC Plus rewards program is an excellent example of these strategies at work.  At first glance, the program seems to be a pretty standard points-based loyalty program. You buy products, accumulate points in your rewards account and then redeem points for free groceries. 

 

Loblaws has taken this a few steps further by introducing a pretty sophisticated smartphone app that personalizes the entire program.  Once you’re signed up and begin making purchases, Loblaws keeps track of each transaction and sends weekly offers to each member.  The offers are completely personalized based on the specific items previously purchased.  If you bought a box of diapers last week, you’re likely to see an offer or two for baby food or formula the following week.  Of course as you buy more items and your transaction history grows, the system becomes more and more intelligent.

 

With over 10 million members, PC Plus is one of Canada’s most successful customer loyalty programs.  The program has helped Loblaws build broader and deeper one-to-one relationships with its customers.  The result has been more frequent trips, bigger basket sizes and more categories shopped.  The incredible amount of data collected and more importantly the company’s intelligent and strategic use of it has helped Loblaws remain an industry leader.

 

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Customer Data

For retailers and restaurant chains, access to accurate customer data is critical to understanding shifting trade areas, cannibalization and competitive influences.  The ability to profile customers across channels, real estate, marketing, and merchandizing will help you align real estate strategies & execution with changing dynamics.

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