Not so long ago our milk was delivered to our front gate and we ordered bread from the local bakery. We knew the milk-man and baker by name, and they knew us and our usual orders.
Today, the majority of us shop at big supermarket chains buying mass-produced everyday items or shop online and have it delivered. We don’t have a relationship with individual store owners anymore (except maybe the local dairy), and as a result that personal touch is often lost between consumer and vendor.
But now, through Big Data the opportunity is there for business to return to personalised service.
Managing Director of accounting firm Xero, Victoria Crone, stated in a recent blog post that using Big Data to improve customer relationships is especially important now that customers have more channels than ever to connect with and comment on brands.
The opportunity, she said, is for businesses to use it as a way that creates value and instils trust with the customer.
A soaring opportunity for the airline industry
Airlines have always collected a lot of data and some are discovering ways it can be used. It can be used to track bags, personalise offers, boost customer loyalty and optimise operations to deliver better service.
Air NZ offers customers a mobile app that lets customers view up-to-date details of their flight bookings, including seat and gate numbers, book flights from their mobile phone, get weather and other useful information on their destination and, in turn, provide the airline with data that will help them tailor product and services for customers in the future.
Delta was the first major airline to launch an app allowing customers to track their bags from their mobile devices, putting customers’ minds at ease that their baggage was headed for the same destination they were.
At the moment only a handful of airlines offer free inflight WiFi including Norwegian who were the first. Some airlines offer customers tablets to use onboard, and in return can collect data from them (within reason) regarding what they did online while in flight. For example, they may have used Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn which means they can then offer those customers future deals or incentives via their preferred social media channel.
Regardless of what they’re doing; how they are doing it is telling a story about what their priorities and interests are.
Banking on Big Data
Westpac’s Head of E-Commerce, Tony Jones said customer behaviour and consumer uptake of new technology is changing the face of the banking industry and has turned the traditional banking model on its head.
“Two years ago we realised customers were shifting more of their interactions with us from people channels to digital channels. This delivered significant benefits to our customers but it also reduced our ability to truly help them by better understanding their individual needs. We also realised that we had a significant amount of customer data, both transactional and behavioural, which in effect provided a lot of the information collated during one-to-one communications – but we were not using it to benefit our customers,” Jones said.
Westpac has now developed an award winning programme called Symphony, which allows the bank to deliver a more relevant and personalised experience to customers across all channels and its producing results.
“For example, a customer might be using a home loan affordability calculator on Westpac.co.nz so we can engage with them simultaneously through webchat. That customer may then apply for a home loan online, and could be conditionally approved within 60 seconds. They would also receive a call from a home loan specialist at their local branch within two hours who can talk them through the house buying process.”
Jones said this financial year Symphony has allowed Westpac to have targeted and personalised conversations with 90% of their customers, compared to less than 40% in previous years by driving a truly omni-channel customer experience across all channels where each interaction seamlessly links to and enriches the next.
“A key part of Symphony allows customers to give us feedback through any channel at any time and means we can immediately notify our specialist teams to actively manage and respond to customers as soon as possible.”
Westpac is also considering trialling iBeacon technology in branches that would be integrated with a mobile app to alert customers to their appointment, recognise them as they enter the branch, and let staff know when a customer has arrived. It would be an opt-in service and means Westpac would also be able to send personalised messages and offers to customers in the future that are based on data collected.
“We want to use Big Data in a way that will benefit our customers by offering them solutions, services and offers that make banking faster and easier for them,” Tony said.
Keep your eye on how the Internet of Things will transform the landscape by serving up data in all kinds of new forms.
While companies of all industries can better understand their customers and provide better service by interpreting and utilising the deluge of data consumers and web connected devices are generating businesses are only scratching the surface.
“New Zealand business has the opportunity to benefit on a global scale,” Jones said. The advantage we have is the Kiwi consumer, renowned as an early adopter and strong with feedback. Listening to them paired with smart, innovative thinking focused on delivering fast, easy and secure solutions to meet their needs has the potential to produce ground breaking work across many sectors.”
The Landscape of Big Data