Data, analytics, surveys, IoT, artificial intelligence, and automation are the new leading buzzwords in retail and customer service.
But what is the point of having all this data about our customers? The business implications of all this big data can be overwhelming and never lead to anything meaningful. But for Amazon, the answer and the outcome seems simple: to remove friction, to make it easier for people to become and to remain loyal customers.
- They developed algorithms to help customers only browse objects of interest to them.
- Next, they introduced Prime, free same-day shipping, to reduce the friction of online shopping (and as an incentive to always choose Amazon).
- Finally, they’ve introduced physical stores without cash registers and cashiers.
Read on, and you will learn how to do the same: how to use your existing data to drive better customer experiences and reduce friction.
Consolidate ‘big data’ with real-time interactions to create a real up-to-date view of your customer
If you want to create an accurate depiction of your customer in data, it’s not enough to “go big.” 58% of businesses that implement real-time analytics have seen a significant impact on customer retention and loyalty. And 70% of surveyed companies in 2018 were increasing their investment in real-time analytics.
The reason behind this is simple. If you rely too much on historical data, you will at some point provide a customer experience that is not a good fit for the customer anymore.
Pre-sale, big e-commerce retailers like Amazon and Zappos lead the heap here, providing insight-based recommendations at scale that change with every customer interaction.
If you’re looking for a bad example of using data to deliver a personalized experience, look at most remarketing campaigns out there. They get hung up on just one historical data point (you visited a particular product page) and try to batter you into purchasing by showing the same ad again and again. (No matter the context of your web browsing.) In the end, you either buy or get a bad taste in your mouth whenever you see the ad. Mostly the latter. And in the absolute worst case scenario, you see the same ads even after purchasing the product. (Especially if you did so in a physical store.)
Not exactly a job well done using historical and real-time data.
Reduce friction by giving your customers fewer and more relevant choices (at the right time)
Forty-four percent of consumers are frustrated by the lack of personalized shopping options. So to achieve a great customer experience, you have to remember the old saying: sometimes less is more.
In Seth Godin’s 2018 Book This Is Marketing, he recounts how he was able to double the sales of eyeglasses in poor communities in South Asia. He didn’t change the color or personalize the experience more. He merely removed excess choice from the equation. They took the six pairs of glasses and removed five of them. Just the one pair the potential customer tried on was left. And it doubled their sales instantly.
Because of their background, these potential customers did not put value in the choices they were given. They did not have the economic surplus to view “shopping” as an enjoyable pastime. So the multiple choices available only represented unnecessary friction.
In many ways, the internet, e-commerce, search engines, and the birth of the long tail killed the “mass market.” There ae now very few products and companies that can get away with marketing themselves as “for everyone.”
For example, instead of trying to market random products to prospects and then seeing what sticks, you can let your data do the heavy lifting with a solution like Facebook Dynamic Ads. Facebook will automatically show the items from your product line it thinks the customer is most likely to engage with or purchase. They base this on user background and their current actions.
Ideally, this is how all your digital communications, not just Facebook ads, should be set up. You want your digital interactions to be like an experienced service professional, e.g., an experienced car mechanic that is familiar with the make and model of car that comes in can make judgment calls that lead to a better and faster customer experience.
“What’s wrong with your car? This model normally has problems with X, so I’ll check for that first,” they might say and then find your car’s problem on the first inspection in a few minutes.
This is faster and cheaper than having to run a full diagnostic check. So it creates a lasting positive impression on the customer, instead of meeting expectations and running a full diagnostic and then eventually fixing the problem at the normal price.
With tools like Google Analytics and Google Ads, it’s easier than ever to think that you’re tracking data and personalizing your customer experience. But delivering high-quality real-time experiences is not that simple.
By combining “big data” with the real-time interactions of your customers, you can capitalize and show them the right offers and messages at the right time. Use the right words and highlight the appropriate benefits to convince people as individuals.
Improve customer experience and increase customer lifetime value with one digital stone.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.