Power of a data-driven customer experience

Success hinges upon businesses placing their customers at the heart of what they do – and data plays a powerful role

In today’s increasingly competitive market, businesses that don’t adopt a customer-centric approach are setting themselves up for failure.

“The explosion of the digital era, combined with growing consumer demand for a more personalised experience, has resulted in a shift in power,” says data expert Edwina Dunn, co-founder of dunnhumby and chief executive of Consumer Insights firm Starcount. “Harnessing customer data has become a valuable commodity for businesses wishing to succeed.”

Edwina Dunn, Investec ambassador
Edwina Dunn, Investec ambassador

Ms Dunn, whose revolutionary approach helped build a portfolio of success stories, has long been at the forefront of customer data; dunnhumby was responsible for Tesco’s groundbreaking Clubcard, the first mass-customisation marketing programme in the world, at a time when firms discarded data following a transaction.

She says: “Businesses that want to set themselves apart from their competitors need to understand exactly who their customer is. Leveraging data can have a powerful impact on the customer experience. Data tells a story and the story of the customer is one that every business should feel compelled to explore.”

Customer data is an undeniable must-have for businesses looking to improve their offering, but critical to their success is understanding how to use that data to deliver a better customer experience.

Leveraging data can have a powerful impact on the customer experience

Ms Dunn believes many businesses pay lip service to the concept of customer experience, but in reality remain product-centric. “Too often the priority is driving efficiencies and as such brands are built upon products rather than the customer,” she says. “Chief marketing officers are rarely included on the board, so there is no customer voice in the boardroom.”

She passionately believes that in order for businesses to achieve success, the corporate spotlight should be on their customers.

“Experience has shown that utilising customer insight can help transform a business from a secondary player to a significant market leader. The key is channelling the findings into the marketing strategy in the right way,” says Ms Dunn. Insight is powerful, but only when turned into action by creating relevant responses to customer needs.

A growing abundance of data, in part thanks to social media, means the challenge for many businesses is how to demonstrate they’ve listened to customer needs. Looking at transactional data will only offer a rear-mirror view. To gain a real understanding of their customer, businesses need to analyse third-party data for example, social media which can show future intent.

“Technology is undeniably vital in providing businesses with a knowledge bank, but it’s just the enabler; businesses need to adapt their overall marketing strategy to make timely and relevant offers,” Ms Dunn explains. “They must be proactive, embedding customer behaviour, their personality, aspirations and evolving needs.” Only then can business offer the right product at the right time – the essence of perfect marketing.

Ms Dunn believes the process is two way. Customers are often happy to share data if it results in a more relevant offer, for example a better tariff or extra incentive. By using customer and third-party data, businesses can create truly personalised campaigns and inspire repeat purchase and customer loyalty. Single-minded focus on transaction data will only tell you what customers have bought, it won’t tell you what they want next.

“Quite simply,” she says, “businesses that fail to capitalise on the power of internal and external data will fail to succeed.”

Edwina Dunn is an ambassador for the Investec Private Banking Restless Spirits Campaign. Read more about her passion to #ChallengeOrdinary at www.investec.co.uk/edwinaonthestand and @investecpb_uk

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