Guest Post: Turning Customer Data to Gold: How to tap into a profitable resource

In Big Data, Data & Analytics, Featured on App by Vaughn Highfield

Dennis Armbruster partner at loyalty one tells you how to turn customer data into gold

In 1848, frontiersman James Marshall struck gold in California, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people, now known as 49ers, to rush across the country the following year to dig for their own mother lodes. Some got lucky. Most didn’t. But none of the 49ers who found gold decided to leave it in the ground. They’d be crazy, right?

Many companies today, however, are leaving gold in the ground. Call them the 50ers—a year late and many dollars short. They amass gold mines of valuable data through their loyalty programs; yet, fail to pan this information for even the smallest nuggets of eureka! across all the company’s channels to compellingly engage their high-value customers.

There’s a real emotional power in eureka!—and savvy loyalty managers understand that leveraging insights about customers can drive better results and deeper engagement. Offers that lack such insights require customers to steadily pan for price discounts, special deals and rewards, which makes them quick to switch to the next glittering claim. On the other hand, loyalty based on the thrill of personalized benefit and recognition, is authentic. The customer feels a true connection to the brand and will bypass better deals elsewhere.

Successful companies leverage the golden touch points across multiple channels—their websites, call centers and stores—to offer personalized, meaningful experiences that build the eureka! in these ways:

Website. The gold standard in customizing the customer experience through the website is Amazon. From the moment shoppers land on the Amazon home page, they are greeted by name and given recommendations based on previous purchases. Amazon uses all of its customer data to personalize the entire experience. Every time.

Call Center. Call-center operators usually are compensated based on how quickly they can get customers off the phone. Operators, naturally, are less inclined to take the time to deliver a surprise-and-delight. To meet this challenge, Verizon has removed time restrictions on their operators for high-value customers, enabling them to resolve all the callers’ concerns and create a satisfying experience.

In Store. As with the call center, retail associates are monitored closely for speed and efficiency. Therefore, they’re usually averse to doing anything that adds time, such as providing a personalized experience.

CVS has found an answer with in-store kiosks. Loyalty members can swipe their cards and receive personalized sets of offers and coupons. Transactions end with a personalized receipt offering discounts on future purchases, a final touch that acknowledges high-value customers.

When James Marshall discovered gold, his boss, John Sutter, hoped to keep the discovery a secret, fearing his land would be overrun by prospectors. Today's wise marketer, however, wants to spread throughout the organization the word about the company loyalty program and its gold mine of data so that it can be used in all sales channels and create buy-in at all levels.

Placing the delivery of the organization's value proposition in the hands of the employees requires that everyone understand the importance of creating loyalty in high-value customers by consistently delivering positive, compelling personalized experiences.

There are three crucial steps to achieve in this direction:

1. Quick wins. Test, learn, modify and prove the case for using customer data to drive emotional engagement.

2. Collaboration. Identify business partners who believe in the value of customer data and are willing to collaborate and pilot customer drive-in initiatives.

3. Communication. Share plans and the potential benefits of using customer data to drive emotional engagement. Communication runs both ways, so also seek out potential concerns and obstacles that may need to be addressed as the organization begins the transformative process.

Don’t ignore the gold mine by treating the loyalty program as an isolated solution. This is not simply a couple of acres around Sutter’s Mill here, but rather a broad, fertile landscape. There is already an under-leveraged asset—and the gleam of gold is flickering in the pan. By following that vein, the opportunities for hitting the mother lode are greatly enhanced. Eureka!


This post comes courtesy of Dennis Armbruster, a partner at LoyaltyOne Consulting.