lundi 10 juin 2013

Customer Service 2.0: A More Personalized And Interactive Experience

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By Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders

Just as the era of the brick-and-mortar retailer is evolving, so too is the concept of traditional customer service. Armed with more options, and in turn more power, consumers today are demanding that companies speak to them more directly and more personably.
So the question becomes not if retailers should tailor the customer experience, but how. How do retailers attract consumers’ attention, and more importantly, how do they retain it? The answer is two-fold: retailers must harness existing customer data and embrace new technologies.
Customer Data Matters
With regard to customer data, there are two questions that need to be addressed: (1) why data matters, and (2) which data matters? The first question forces us to think about our learning objectives. The second question makes us consider the data that we need to collect in order to learn what we want to learn. Oftentimes we collect more data than we need. It’s good that we collect it, as storage is cheap and — in the same manner we tend to keep old items of clothing or other personal items in our closets — you never know when it will be useful. Let me get back to the why.
In our personal interactions with friends and family we learn (1) from observations and (2) from conversations. Observation helps us collect behavioral data about our friends.  Conversations, on the other hand, help us understand why certain behaviors occur.
Similarly, transactional data gives us plenty of opportunities to learn about customer behaviors – when people buy, what they buy, and how much they buy.
But social media data has added a whole new dimension. We can understand WHY customers do certain things. Why Anne, who used to spend $300 on clothes every three months, spends less than $50 now.  Listening to the voice of the customer enables us to learn the causes behind observable behavior patterns.
Connecting behavioral patterns with causal explanations gives retailers unprecedented opportunities to invent new needs and wants, and grow both sales and customer satisfaction in the process. Thus the next generation of retail business intelligence (BI) will connect these data sources more closely, and apply analytical techniques across both structured and unstructured data to connect observed customer behavior with expressed customer feelings.
Emerging Customer Technologies
New customer interaction technologies are quickly emerging. They have a dual purpose: (1) to have a ‘conversation’ with the customer; and (2) to collect and analyze the data from the ‘conversation’ to refine the interactions.
For example, as Anne tries on different dresses in the dressing room, the interactive technologies record what she likes and does not like. The more we learn about why she rejects what she tries, the more we know about Anne’s preferences, and the more we understand why we lost a significant portion of her wallet. This can have positive benefits for the customer, as well. Retailers know that accessorizing increases total spending. Hence, interactive suggestions of accessories create a personalized fashion advice experience that many shoppers like.
The new interactive technologies will embed real-time BI and advanced analytics to make the experience relevant and natural. So what is next? What more can we add?
Imagine being able to bring your social friends into the dressing room for advice. This now turns the shopping experience into a completely social experience. How do you factor their advice into the recommendations that your interactive system presents to the shopper? How do you weigh the likes and dislikes?
The Facebook of retail will solve this problem.
Rado Kotorov is the Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders, a provider of business intelligence (BI) and analytics, information integrity, and integration solutions.

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