According to Forrester Research, we're currently living in the Age of the Customer, and have been for the past five years or so. This means that businesses now operate in an environment where consumers' wants and needs are more impactful than they've ever been.
"Today's customer are more powerful than ever, with the ability to shift markets and define a company's success in a matter of seconds," Salesforce Chief Creative Officer John Zissimos wrote.
In a nutshell, this means that organizations that aren't putting a prime focus on learning about their clients – including their current and projected requirements and preferences – risk falling behind market competitors that are seeking to connect and address today's consumers. This is a task that requires specialized knowledge only accessible from big data analytics.
"The sales process is drastically shifting away from the linear model. Succeeding in selling means knowing where your customers are at all times, and being prepared to engage with them on their own terms," Zissimos noted. "But in the Age of the Customer, selling is only one piece of the puzzle. In this new era, customer service reigns supreme, and your agents need shareable, omnichannel, 360-degree views of every single customer."
What can your big data tell you about your customers? And how can your business leverage this information to succeed in the market? Let's take a look:
1) Lessons from big data: Customer service
Studies show that clients appreciate when businesses put extra effort into ensuring that their needs are met. In fact, one Infosys study found that the vast majority of customers in the U.S. will spend as much as 13 percent more with a company that provides superior service.
This means that firms that provide support and assistance to consumers throughout their journey – from the first visit to the site, through conversion and beyond – typically enjoy more profits than those that don't focus resources on these processes. However, the lessons big data can teach us about customer service don't end here.
When it comes to reaching out and connecting with a business, big data can also reveal the most efficient and preferred channels for this communication. For instance, big data from a specific industry might show that consumers use online real-time chat capabilities more than phone calls to contact centers. In addition, your own company's statistics might show that email form fills are utilized most by your customers. Using this information, your business can support the top channels clients are using to obtain the customer service they seek.
2) Customizing the experience: Customer preferences
In addition to preferences about contacting the business, big data can also help retailers and service providers offer a more customized experience to each consumer. NCR Director Scot DeLancey told CIO that big data analysis can enable businesses to make custom product or service recommendations to customers, depending on their shopping history and other trends. In addition, this information can also enable companies to create more targeted, customized offers and promotions, ensuring that ads are as relevant as possible. In this way, the business can "fully maximize cross-sell and up-sell opportunities to realize increased revenues," DeLancey noted.
This personalized experience can extend to brick-and-mortar store locations as well, arming retailers with the data they need to provide the best in-store experience possible. One of the most profitable ways to leverage data in this case is to utilize location-specific information to address the needs of clients in certain regions.
"[C]ustomer data can identify differences in preference by region, enabling stores in each region to feature the right products in store windows and in key location within the store," First Insight CEO Greg Petro said.
3) Analyzing trends: Keeping up with changing priorities
Customers can be a finicky bunch, and the current environment in the Age of the Customer also means that businesses must be able to keep up with clients' changing preferences. Just because shoppers leaned toward a certain product or service six months ago doesn't mean the market is the same today. Leveraging big data analytics can help companies identify and address not only current customer needs and preferences, but emerging demands as well. Best of all, analyzing customer big data can enable businesses to predict what customers will be looking for in the upcoming months and years, and position their organizations to succeed in these areas.
"Customer needs and priorities are always changing," WIRED contributor Mike Dickey wrote. "To ensure that your analysts don't lag behind, you must be able to adjust the data you capture and process on the fly to meet continuously changing requirements."
Filling the gaps: Gaining insight into what you don't know
This is only the beginning when it comes to the lessons big data can teach you about your own customers, as well as consumers across your industry. These insights require access to the right data sets, some of which are contained within your own big data – others, however, may demand that your analysts look beyond your own informational sources.
Data Realty is an expert in the big data field, and can ensure that your organization has everything it needs to succeed. From storage space for your own data to access to other robust sources, Data Realty and our partner Aunalytics are the one-stop shop for all of your big data needs. To find out more, contact us today.