By Neer Rama, Force Solutions Product Manager at thryve
Customer behaviours are in flux, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to its effects on our daily behaviour, the overwhelming number of consumers have changed the products and services they think are important. Three-quarters of people who are first-time users of digital channels will continue to do so. And here’s a staggering one: 20% of UK shoppers say they won’t buy fashion in-store anymore.
These patterns are a concern not only because they make it harder to attract new customers. There is also a clear threat to retaining current customers – the dreaded churn. Companies need much more nuanced insight into their clients, which is why customer analysis has become a sought-after capability.
Customer analysis has become very accessible thanks to customer data platforms (CDP), offered by platforms such as Salesforce and its subsidiary, Tableau. These are cloud-based platforms, thus making it much easier and quicker to access insights around customer trends.
And it’s a mandatory trend: customer analytics is quickly shifting from being a competitive advantage into a business necessity – not the least because of the changes to our society mentioned above. For strategic reasons, companies must understand what’s happening among customers – for the sake of innovation and product development, but also to deliver a coherent experience that leads to greater loyalty. CDP analytics can answer basic questions (such as where to advertise) or delve into the entire customer journey that feeds insight into every corner of your business: from sales and marketing to logistics, operations and development.
The first step is to use a CDP service, encompassing three primary tasks: data collection & unification, data activation, and data insights. These also happen to be the stepping stones for starting your customer analytics:
1.Connect customer data in a single place
You need to create customer resolution: this means creating a single customer ID from many different CRM instances, as well as tying together databases that traditionally don’t share customer data.
2. Reconcile known customers identities
The next step is to create a cross-device identity for a customer so that their different interactions can be tracked as a singular thread. You can do this by taking what you know about a customer before they share personal data (such as email addresses or phone numbers) and start associating interactions with specific campaigns or platforms. Essentially, it’s about identifying the same customer at different touchpoints in your business.
3.Real-time customer insights
Once the data has been consolidated and collated, it’s time to put those insights in front of your people. The data must connect to different business systems, including email-marketing platforms, content management systems, billing systems and many of the functions found in modern CRMs.
Modern platforms such as Salesforce help tremendously to streamline those steps and make customer analytics more accessible. You can start small, focusing on a specific group of customers, and expand your efforts as you see results and ingratiate different parts of your company with a CDP’s potential.
It is, though, necessary to start. US retailers such as Target and Amazon were once the only companies with resources to demonstrate customer analytics’ impressive benefits. That picture has since evolved considerably. CDP services, through the cloud, are also more accessible and scalable, opening doors to different industries and sizes of companies.
CDP is relevant beyond retail – any business with customers (and that’s every business) should be concerned about churn as well as attracting new clients. Fortunately, that customer data is already waiting to be used. You are just one platform away from knowing what your customers really want.