According to Paul Ravenscroft, the most enjoyable part of his job is coming up with an insight or a new way of working that makes things better for the business and for the customer. “For us to be successful, the customer has got to react positively to what we do,” he told DataIQ.
Part of his job is to make sure that the conditions are in place, now and in the future, that will allow the retailer to innovate, develop and improve what it is doing for the customer. The flexibility that he and his insights team have allows them to use data in innovative ways and so proactively approach different teams within Boots to have conversations about how those improvements might be made.
His insights team has a range of responsibilities - building insights and targeting for all personalised one-to-one communications across email and the Boots app, as well as the production of the quarterly mailer which goes out to millions of customers. When discussing his role, Ravenscroft rarely spoke of his individual responsibilities and achievements - apart from supporting his senior team, which is the other key aspect of his job - but preferred to highlight his team's collective effort.
"This is for the team. You won this."
Ravenscroft’s modesty among his 30-plus team of CRM analysts, data scientists and campaign consultants is renowned. Upon being notified that he had won the DataIQ Talent Award for Analytics and insight leader, he gave all the credit to his team, saying, “this isn’t just for me. This is for the team. You won this award.” Gillian McNulty, senior loyalty analyst, responded, “but you put our team together.”
He said he built the team based on his own ethos of allowing people the room to develop, express themselves and make choices, as well as keep learning and satisfying their curiosity. There is a strong emphasis on training and development in his department. Ravenscroft said this is imperative because the field of analytics has changed dramatically in the last decade and so analysts, users of insight and data professionals need to keep their skills sharp.
He said: “You’ve got to keep developing, because if you stay doing one role in the same way, you will be left behind, you won’t be getting the most out of your job and you won’t find it rewarding.” Training and development is also important to keep people enthused and excited about what they are doing. As a result, he said that his department has quite a good track record of taking people with raw talent and developing them into analysts.
Ravenscroft himself did not actually set out to be an analyst. He first started working in Boots as a supply assistant, procuring stock for stores and remembers how, during the Teletubbies craze, toys and toiletries featuring the colourful, huggable creatures were flying off the shelves.
"After two years in B2B analytics, be missed contact with the end customer"
He happened to see an ad on the internal jobs board for analysts to work on the Advantage Card, which in 2000 had only been around for three years. He joined the team and said that he got his first taste for direct communications and how insight feeds into that, as well as a really good start in analytics.
However, he left the healthcare retailer after two years in the analytics team and went to work for RS Components, a B2B operation. There he got involved in lots of different areas of analytics, like location planning and contact planning, but he missed being in contact with the end customer.
Four years after that, he then moved to mail order company Land’s End, where he had his first experience of team management, working with two analysts. There he was able to work closely with the consumer as well as some external agencies. “I had a smaller operation, wide breadth of analytical requirements, use of data and use of insights, so that was good,” Ravenscroft remembers.
Another two years passed and Elizabeth Fagan, now managing director, came in as marketing director with a vision of how Boots should be interacting with its customers and how it should be using Boots Advantage Card and data as a core part of the business. Her leadership led to an increased focus on the loyalty card programme and Ravenscroft was tempted back.
He has been in his current job for nine years now, the longest stint in one place of his career. Ravenscroft said this is because the role is constantly changing - developing new customer propositions, developing people who are new to insights and taking on new areas of responsibility are aspects of his everyday work.
“My passion is speaking directly to the customer, I personally find that more rewarding and more interesting,” he said.