Many CEOs are shy of using consultants to analyse data. That’s because they think about the cost, rather than the opportunity. And they over-complicate their decision-making with unnecessary worry about the length of time it will take to see results. Yet analytics is becoming the critical success factor. Look at companies like Google and Amazon - their success is built almost entirely on using the power of data and the resulting insight to grow their businesses profitably.
A common misconception is that it takes about six months for data analysts to give useful, detailed advice and for business leaders to implement changes. But when you work strategically at the core of a company, it’s not hard to find results and start delivering them immediately.
For this to work, it is vital that CEOs aren’t the only ones involved in working with data. The finance department has to be on board so that a return on investment can be measured. If the finance team doesn’t buy into data analytics, then the results will never be turned into action.
Intelligent customer engagement will only become more widely appreciated as businesses battle it out to stay on top in an unforgiving economic climate. Companies need to understand what their consumers want - and why - so they don’t feel like the customer experience has been compromised.
It’s therefore not just the number of customers in your database that counts, it’s how well you know them and how well you can tailor your products and services, as well as your delivery channels, to meet their needs. Simply trying to please people by reducing the price of goods or services will not work.
When disposable income is more scarce, people want to make sure they aren’t wasting it. They need to know that what they are buying will last the distance. Look at John Lewis - it has gone from strength to strength. Although it is “never knowingly undersold”, the retailer certainly doesn’t put price at the heart of its proposition. The company knows its customers and it has held true in delivering against core values, regardless of what’s been happening on the High Street.
Those who are sceptical about data analytics need only look at the benefits for other notable companies, like OCBC Bank and Robinsons department store, which demonstrates how the implementation of data-driven insight can deliver significant incremental revenue to the bottom line. It didn’t take years of number-crunching - within a few months, we’d analysed the data, segmented the customer base and launched a test-and-learn customer engagement programme that has delivered 8:1 ROI.
Of course, not every business will see the same results or as quickly. But if you want rapid results, action the things that can be implemented or changed quickly. With the right level of customer insight, pull levers such as marketing campaigns and pricing models for fast results. Then focus on the aspects of change that take longer, eg, store opening hours or layouts.
Businesses that learn to adapt based on delivery of fast insight will be the most successful. Listening to customers is invaluable. Through access to customer data, businesses can have a greater opportunity to engage and actively respond to their needs.
Ultimately, it’s a mind-set. If you view working with data as a cost, then you are never going to attempt it. If you look at it as an investment, then you see the benefit. You can keep happy customers and maximise your business potential. In fact, you can’t do one without the other. Don’t get left behind.