A New Approach to Customer Engagement

BANU DAL | COO

Competition has always been a challenge, getting tougher every day. No secret that a business outstrips the rivals, only when the customers are satisfied and engaged. As Peter Drucker put beautifully; “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

To claim customer engagement, there should be customers, coming back over and over again, to purchase the products or services. It is critical to know the customer and predict the behavior, to take any possible action. We have been told that CRM is the approach and Loyalty Program is the tool, but that was some decades ago.

I witness that this perception didn’t give any ground since I still hear retail professionals say  “loyalty card is the way to collect the data and to know the customer”.

Oddly enough, the transaction logs conceal, so much more than the customers declare themselves, on a predesigned form.

I believe the reason behind the retailers’ assumption is, being stuck – for years – between RFM Segmentation with no reasonable action, campaigns sent out with bulk messaging and failure to personalize.

As technology advances and the processing power is more affordable,  we – technology providers – can easily incorporate mathematical models in our software and deliver you high-performance solutions. It is not a myth anymore; You can know your customer, better than him or her. With “Data-driven Behavioral Segmentation”, it is possible to develop a new approach to enhance customer engagement.

I would like to take this occasion to update you on what we have been working on lately, regarding this new approach.

  1. With no doubt, the online and offline channels should be integrated. The transactions made in the physical store and the online purchases should be aggregated on a customer record. Although there is progress compared to the early days of multi-channel, the pain point I get to hear the most is that the retailers cannot trace the customer who is ‘identified with an email address while shopping online’ and is ‘recognized with the phone number in the store’. In pursuit of the omnichannel, the retailers are having a hard time deduplicating the channel customers. Applying the Detailer Deduplication model, we helped retailers overcome this hurdle.
  2. We depict the ideal customer and the behavior set, extract all the alike-unlike sets and customers from an ocean of data. Certainly, this is a tough job, however using the Big Data approach, we are able to analyze with high performance and accuracy.
  3. Without the hassle of inputting the variables regarding the sales dynamics, marketing strategies, we work on the T-Logs to deliver the correlations. We incorporate data mining methods to extract the rule sets. We shed light on the probability of selling Y to customers who bought X, the lift factor of X to the sale of product Z.
  4. Predefined segment structures that encapsulate the customers in “not so accurate” groups are no longer needed. The new approach is to segment the clientele solely on behavior; monetary scale, the composition of the basket/categories or the timing of the purchase – weekday, weekend, morning, between 14:00-15:00.

Let me wrap it up!

Don’t lose time with the data collected at the first encounter, declared by the customer, filled in the boxes of a form designed by the retailer, which is no longer up-to-date. Take time to evaluate the Big Data & Data Mining solutions and bother only to collect the email and phone number from the customers, for communication & easier deduplication purposes. Your data has millions of stories to tell.

If this is on your agenda, let’s have a chat!

Listen to your data, make intelligent decisions.

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7 Retail Customer Expectations Cognitive Computing Will Resolve in the Future

BÜLENT DAL | CEO

In a previous post- Cognitive computing and Customer Experience in Retail – I defined Cognitive computing as ‘the simulation of human intelligence & the thinking process;  thinking, reasoning, learning &  taking-action executed by the computer systems. In other words, it is an approach to perform the five human senses through information systems.’ We have been witnessing the critical changes in data-driven decision making and analytics systems & approaches, in the past years while creating solutions and initiating projects.

Let’s have a quick tour and understand how did we end up here?

In very early days, we started developing solutions for our customers to find the answer to their question “What Happened?”. After understanding this, the obvious question was “Why did it happen?” and we created solutions enabling interactive analysis, to find the answers. Any decent professional who knew the answers by then, started asking “What may happen?”, encouraging us to deliver our predictive solutions. Who can stop anyone to ask “What action should I take?” when they learn what is likely to happen in the future? Today the question evolved to the final – for now –  form. “What is the next best action?” and we are adopting cognitive computing approach, to deliver the answer.

According to the Louis Columbus research published in Forbes in March 2017, 70% of retailers are expected to run cognitive computing systems by 2021. Minimizing out of stocks with real-time inventory tracking and operation monitoring, providing better and more personalized services to the customers, will be embraced as ways of creating value.

With the solutions we offer, the retail industry has come to the point of making the right decisions automatically, with the real-time, operational and customer experience data they have in hand. The efforts to deliver a more personalized and high-quality service to the consumer, with less time spent on the consumer’s side, did not only increase the operational efficiency but improved the customer experience, as well.

We are now at the point where the consumers will start judging the industry norms, with simple but impressive styles.

A study published by Synchrony Financial in March 2017 reveals predictions about the future customer expectations. According to these predictions, we will soon meet the DIY consumer.

  1. Customers have already begun to gather more information from content providers such as, search engines and social media before they even come to the store. Some are more informed on a specific product than the sales associates, as they enter the store. In the future, the consumer will get the information via sensors on the products, pay with fingerprints or smartphones, without accessing any POS or waiting in the queue. The associate will be in the store as the expert, to be consulted.
  2. Fitting rooms with interactive mirrors will be the medium to call a different size, to put an order or even to pay.
  3. No need to wait for the store to open. There will be 24/7 sales. Even if the store is closed, orders will be placed at the storefront, delivery will be done by robots.
  4. Physical stores will be preferred for experiencing the product, entertainment, learning and getting help. For example, a 3D face modeling application, that perceives the face shape of a person will suggest a personalized model of eye-glasses. After the selection of one of the choices, 3D printers will be printing the final product, while the customer is in the store,
  5. Entertaining, having a good time, listening to a mini-concert or having a cup of coffee while shopping, attending a course to make artisan chocolate or an original leather belt in the store, reserving a fitting room; These are likely to be witnessed in the close future of retail.
  6. Customers will start asking “Why am I going to the store? Stores should come to me!”. With voice-driven systems, customers will expect the product or service to wherever they are, at home, in the car, etc, just by calling their name.
  7. Most important of all, the customers will be more time-conscious. They will expect to have what they want, right away. Customers will not settle for any delivery or return pickup that exceeds an hour.

As the expectation of the customer’s experience grows, we will look for an answer to the new question “How can we meet this expectation in  a better way?” Apparently; brands adopting systems based on cognitive computing will be differentiated in every field and will be leading the competition ahead.

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