Are you looking to increase your contactable Customer base? How much money are you losing on incorrectly identified Customer communications? Throughout our 30 years of big data experience working with clients across industries around the globe, we have found that maintaining contact through relevant Customer engagement is a crucial component of putting the Customer First.
Essential to preserving contact data is ensuring that you have the most up-to-date information from your Customers; not an easy task. On average, people in the United States will move an average of 12 times in their lifetime. United States Postal Service data indicates 14% of the population change addresses annually. As email contact has grown, it's important to note that, on average, 30% of people change their email addresses each year. This is driven by ISP or job changes, or just to stop being spammed. As people move away from home phones to primarily mobile devices, phone numbers are stabilizing as consumers maintain the same numbers through physical moves.
Contact data maintenance also includes an effective and trackable process for removing Customers who "opt out", unsubscribe or otherwise request to not be contacted. Beyond Customer fallout for not honoring their request, regulations such as GDPR and CCPA can deliver fines as high as €20 million, or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year (whichever is greater), for any violations.
So, how are you collecting and managing sensitive, frequently changing Customer metadata? These three questions can help you perform a quick data health check for your business:
- How flexible are our Customer data platforms? Can multiple departments use the same Customer master data profile?
- What are the accuracy requirements for each of our communication channels?
- How unique is our Customer data asset and how valuable is it to our company?
Here are the most common data management options we encounter across industries:
Maintaining Customer information manually through an internal data team can be time-consuming and costly. It may require Customers to update their information online or through a call center, with an internal data team to validate the changes, and your Customer engagement team to be made aware of the changes so they can update their downstream systems. If you are in contact with your Customers on a weekly basis, this process will need to be on-going and thorough to accurately capture the data changes.
2. Third party:
Many third-party CRM systems and databases exist, often removing the manual steps from this process and may even automatically update Customer address information via online sources. In many cases this information is based on publicly available data or the USPS' address tools. However, these updates can verge on being "creepy" to many Customers. Automated systems do remove many of the manual touch points for your teams, but the information is then strictly provided by the third-party databases and processes. Additionally, downstream systems often still require updates from these tools to maintain the most correct Customer information across your data landscape.
While there are some hybrid models of options, here are the main pros and cons we have identified for the primary methods:
|Internal Pros||Internal Cons|
|The fastest method if you own and manage your data ingestion platform||Managing a metadata repository tied to your website or mobile platform may require significant improvements in your front-end systems and teams|
|Your internal security can ensure that personal data standards and protections are maintained||A true "Customer master" repository will require significant resources, a robust data governance structure and regular audits for both security and data accuracy|
|The easiest method for maintaining your Customer opt-outs and communication preferences||If there is a data breach from your systems, your company is 100% liable for the breach|
|Platform and tool agnostic. An internal "Customer master" repository can serve as a single source of truth for Customer data within your organization|
|Leverages the information provided from your Customers which in practice should be the most trusted|
|3rd Party Pros||3rd Party Cons|
|Removes significant pressure from your internal teams and systems as you are pushing the process to the 3rd party||May require you to maintain your own Customer opt-outs and communication preferences external to their platform|
|If the data resides on and is consumed from their systems, on-going security becomes less of a concern for your internal teams*||May not allow Customer provided information to be captured or maintained|
|Can be a very accurate source if they are leveraging governmental and legal databases||May require the use of their specific software and technology, limiting the ability for your organization to create an internal "Customer master" on your own databases and downstream systems|
|May be updated on a real-time basis from their systems||You are tied to the 3rd party data match and update process dependencies. Additionally, some companies limit the daily number of requests or queries|
|APIs and other data integration points with the 3rd party may be made available ensuring that all internal teams have the same "Customer master"||Are they consuming publicly available data (ex. mortgages and legal proceedings) or are they using some large unmanaged database to match Customer details and data?|
|How often are they confirming the accuracy of their data? Example "John Smith" may simply be a typo from years ago or it could be correct. How do they confirm accuracy?|
|*If the 3rd party or their associated processors breach your Customer information, you may still suffer reputational and financial consequences|
Regardless of your chosen data mastering methodology, the Customer's preferred data should always be treated as the "most trusted," as this is the data your Customer is asking you to use. We recommend prioritizing Customer-provided data over other sources, only falling back on alternate sources if there are issues with Customer communications.
dunnhumby can help your company develop a comprehensive Customer mastering solution, regardless of your existing CRM process, technology or vendor. We have spent the last 30 years working with Customer data in many different stages of maturity and complexity. Through this process, we have developed proven best practices to collect and maintain your Customer metadata. If you are interested in discussing Customer mastering or Data Consulting, please reach out to your dunnhumby client representative or Contact Us.
With the balance of power shifting from business to consumer, it's no surprise that improving the Customer experience is something high on the agenda of many brands and retailers right now. This month for our 3 minute interview, we talked to Emily Turner, Customer Engagement Director for dunnhumby in North America, to hear her views on what retailers and brands must prioritise to deliver truly high-value Customer experiences…
With the changes going on in the retail landscape, what factors do you think retailers and brands need to prioritise more than ever?
Building trusted and transparent relationships with their customers. A good relationship starts with being open and honest about how they use their Customers' data and what benefits they deliver in return.
Customers generally trust retailers with their shopping data and are happy to share it providing there is a fair exchange of value. Not providing value back to customers in return through the experiences retailers and brands deliver, whether that's in the form of irrelevant messages or ignoring channel preferences, is one of the fastest ways to erode that trust.
By using Customer data to design and deliver a superior experience for the Customer, retailers and brands have a greater opportunity of making every interaction more personalized and more rewarding, meeting the customers' needs in that moment.
What do you see being the biggest challenge that retailers face in putting Customers First?
Commitment. Being truly Customer First takes unwavering organisational commitment. It is not for the faint of heart!
Yet to keep pace with Customers' ever-evolving needs and expectations, retailers can't afford not to put the Customer at the heart of their decision-making. We work with many partners around the world to develop the right strategies that enable them to undergo this transformation.
It's not easy to do and another of the biggest challenges is knowing where to start and how to make the change manageable. With over 30 years' experience in using Customer data and advanced science to create unique and meaningful Customer moments, we have the necessary know-how to help retailers and brands achieve it.
Tell us a little bit about how the Customer Engagement team at dunnhumby helps customers win.
We start and end with the customer. We're committed to helping our clients keep up with their connected Customers to improve every interaction their customers have with them, by delivering highly personalised and relevant experiences.
What are your trend predictions for the upcoming year?
Customers will continue to want to be treated like individuals, to choose how and when they want retailers and brands to communicate with them. They're also increasingly looking to exercise more control over the experience they receive through things like selecting the benefits they want within a loyalty program for example.
For retailers, there will be an increased focus on removing friction, reducing barriers and building seamless Customer journeys across channels.
Customers are becoming more and more aware of the value of their personal data, questioning who is collecting it and why. They expect companies to treat it with respect and use it wisely to provide more personalised services and offers.
Customers are only going to get more demanding, and as such, retailers and brands will need to relentlessly pursue what matters most to their Customers. Or else someone else will.
The Customer Engagement team at dunnhumby helps retailers and brands identify and quantify Customer headroom opportunities, to enable personalised communication strategies and enhanced Customer experiences. Contact us to find out more.
Big data is no longer an advantage for only the big guys. Just ask Heinen's.
As I wrote in my previous article, being truly loyal to customers is, above all else, about creating a better store experience. Naturally then, the role of big data analytics (customer science) must be to improve the traditional '4 P's of marketing – so that customers better find the right products, at prices that shout better value for money, and in promotions that more clearly deliver exciting value.
Typically, the costs and complexities of harvesting insights from big data to improve the 4 P's have shut out smaller retailers. But today's cheaper cloud computing and open source technologies can now enable big data advantages to small companies. Data has been 'democratized' in a way that size of retailer no longer matters. To wit: leading the application of big insights in small spaces is Heinen's, a 23-store chain headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
If you want to see an amazing store experience born from inspired retail art together with applied customer science, you've got to see the Heinen's store in downtown Cleveland. You are sure to notice that Heinen's have transcended the traditional 4 P's to add 3 new P's of Customer Engagement – People, Place, and Personal – and have thereby become even more loyal to their customers. There's a link to a special video feature about this incredible store at the end of this article.
In the age of Amazon, it pays to think big when you’re small
These are dangerous times of disruption and of tectonic shifts in structures, formats, and channels for both retailers and brands. A new epoch of retail has arrived, wherein, once again, only those most agile / most adaptable to change will survive. The challenge is even more acute for smaller retailers.
"The brick and mortar solution won't survive very well unless we up our game and create an even better experience for customers than we have in the past." – Tom Heinen
And the way to create an even better experience? Use Customer Data Science to understand customers better than in the past, and apply insights to improve the store itself. I contend that deeper, truer loyalty can be better earned by responsive regional and smaller operators because they have a natural head start as 'local' puts them inherently closer to their customers.
The paradox of disrupted retail is that the big companies must think small, and the small must think big. Those bigger to become more local and personal, and those smaller to embrace the advantages of big data.
Speedboats vs. cruise ships
As the saying goes, it's about the size of the fight in the dog (and not the size of the dog in the fight). In Tom's words, "Being small when you deal with data is actually an advantage. Big companies are like driving a cruise ship; we're a speedboat. What levels the playing field for smaller companies is, in fact, good data-driven decisions."
The principles around using customer data to better engage customers are applicable regardless the size of your business, and no matter the channel – convenience, traditional offline, online, e-m-or v-commerce. These are the universal customer principles of retail:
- Loyalty = Trust + Value. Customers define what 'trust' and 'value' mean to them, personally. This loyalty is a thing earned, not expected
- Relevance is everything
- Customers leave for a reason – they are usually pushed, not pulled away
- Those most adaptable to change are those most likely to survive
To Chris Foltz, Heinen's Director of Operations, survival today is about investing in data science, and the benefits thereof are simple; "…to find insights that enable us to engage customers differently. We need to better change to meet their changing needs and find new ways to delight them".
3 P's of Customer Engagement
Chris and Heinen's understand – and practice perhaps better than anyone – that engaging and delighting customers goes far beyond executing on only 4 P's. I see three more P's in their brilliant operating model; the human P's, if you will – People, Place (in the sense of Ray Oldenburg's Third Places) and Personal.
People: Heinen's have energised and empowered staff by giving them ownership of the customer and the superpower of trust to satisfy customers using their own best judgement. Upskilling is not only about how to do a task, but also about the applications of good judgement and warm behaviours of empathy, dignity, and respect for shoppers. One store, one person can make a big difference for customers.
Personal: Treating all employees with dignity and remembering that each employee is an individual with different needs and aspirations teaches employees that all customers deserve to be treated with respect and individuality (what I call true 'personalisation'). Heinen's employees, following the example of their leaders, learn how to build up relational bank accounts with customers – earning credits for giving recognition, appreciation, thanks, kindness, dignity and respect to shoppers as individuals. When it comes to empathy and respect, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree at Heinen's.
Place: Oldenburg describes spaces at the heart of a community's social vitality a "third place". In contrast to first places (home) and second places (work), third places allow people to put aside their concerns and simply enjoy other people and the space around them. Heinen's downtown Cleveland store stands as a model for grocers to create this very human and psychologically important third space, and demonstrates again how Tom and Jeff Heinen are loyal to their customers and to their community.
For a look at this amazing place and the loyal application of the 4 P's to enhance the customer experience, please watch the below video.
Implications for retail leaders
- You don't have to be big to benefit from big data
- The principles of earning loyalty from your customers apply regardless of the number of stores, or of format
- Retail art must be informed by customer science if you want to win in the age of Amazon
- In the age of artificial intelligence, it's the human intelligence that wins customer engagement
The "new normal" isn't really normal at all. Life amid COVID-19 has forced U.S. consumers to adopt new behaviors, dramatically impacting how they shop, work and go about their daily lives. Trips to the grocery store are now once weekly trips to buy essentials and stock the pantry for home cooking. And, vulnerable consumers now rely on online ordering and delivery services they were once reluctant to try.
On average, it takes 66 days for new behaviors to become automatic. The majority of U.S. consumers will cross that milestone under pandemic restrictions very soon. Retailers should prepare now to successfully serve their customers after the "COVID curve."
Join dunnhumby's Emily Turner, Head of Customer Engagement for North America, and John O'Reilly, Head of Customer Development for North America, as they discuss:
- The future of loyalty and reward programs and what retailers should do now to better align with the emotional and functional needs of customers after the curve
- Communications strategies and tactics that are improving the digital customer experience
- The best practices likely to continue to drive and grow customer engagement post COVID-19