Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big Data…Where to Start?

I have recently been discussing “Big Data” with savvy technology professionals who amaze me more and more with the fascinating realities of what we can do now, what we are so close to doing and what we will do in the very near future.

As a marketer and operations professional, I have utilized data to look for patterns of what was going right, wrong and trending for a very long time. (I once developed an entire inventory, transfer, buyer data and reconciliation system from an old 10 key cash register that had 7 “department” numbers and the ability to randomly enter numbers – which I used for SKUs!) Fortunately, I have also held positions where I managed unbelievable marketing and technology talent and we did some very sophisticated loyalty, affinity, acquisition, share of wallet, launches and target market development. So, for me data has been the breadcrumbs that have lead me to implement some very successful strategies.

What I seem to sense in marketers is a misunderstanding about “Big Data”. I recently attended a seminar on the issue and folks asked questions like, “what is it?” It is not something new. It is just more data from additional sources such as social media, additional transaction and web browsing data and the like. I look at it like just more toys in the toy box! These bright shiny new toys, along with the old ones, are great tools that can help lead to educated decisions on consumers’ and business’ propensity to behave or purchase or donate, or whatever your goal or question is.

And this brings me to where to start. Start with your biggest questions or challenge the embedded beliefs about your market. Don’t be afraid to start with an old exercise of a quadrant analysis and then match all existing data to each record. Once you have done this, what conclusions can you draw about your market? Are your best customers who and what you thought they were? Do you see opportunities in your Q2 data that suggest that if you market to Q2 in new areas or ways, they are very likely to shift into Q1? Test it and find out.

As you begin to actually see what data (big and small) you have to work with, you can begin to develop new theories, see new patterns and receive direction from the data that will lead you on a journey to devouring data to help you succeed and make ‘wins’ faster and with higher ROI than ever before.

With this, I close with Happy and Fun Marketing! Enjoy your new toys!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Has Your CRM Failed You…Or Are You Failing It?

There are many flavors of CRM and many uses, but for our purposes today, let’s start with a simple united definition.

As a goal oriented person, I’ll cut to the chase and define it like this:

 A method by which one can improve customer service and increase revenue.

 Sounds like great stuff, right? Who doesn’t want to achieve those two goals?

Are you achieving those goals with the CRM tools that you use?

·      Or, has your tool become a chore to you and/or your employees, so it goes unused?
·      Or, is your tool used sporadically and therefore does not reflect the level of detail that allows you to provide exceptional customer insight?
·      Or, are you too “busy” to use the tool when you are engaging with your customers?
·      Or, do you or your employees not really understand how to utilize the CRM tool so it feels like a waste of money?
·      Or, are you pretty savvy with your CRM (Or hired someone to do it for you) and you have pre-set triggers that send emails, reminders and offers to customers? (This one can be the MOST dangerous if you have done something wrong to a customer and then they receive a reminder to come visit you again, or a ‘canned’ 10% offer on their next visit. This is a HUGE turn off to customers. You have probably lost them if you do this without precautions in place.)

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are failing to properly use CRM within your organization and should immediately seek help to develop a strategy to solve this harmful problem.

Why is this so urgent?  Competition has never been greater. If you are a brick and mortar company, you are literally dying a slow death (sometimes, not so slow). If you are an Internet based company, your customer is only one click away from using someone else. This is reality.

There is such great opportunity available for you. If you are in a leadership role in your company, you must engage with your customers by using your CRM tool properly – or don’t use it at all.  

How do you do this? Here are three basic actions to take that will make a vast improvement in your Customer Satisfaction:

·      Be certain every employee is trained thoroughly on the system.
·      Ensure there is a mechanism to send unique and special apologies, offers of SPIFs, etc. when you have had a bad transaction with a customer. Be certain that the ‘canned’ reminders and offers do not reach your customers before you have completely reinstated and repaired your relationship to their satisfaction.
·      Demand that your employees use the system. This is especially important if you have a Call Center environment or Customer Service staff. Nothing frustrates customers more than trying to repeat the problem they are trying to remedy over and over again. In contrast, a customer likes to hear, “Thank you for calling Ms. Smith. I’d like to review your notes on the problem that you reported so that I can assist you properly. Is that ok?” Then confirm the problem and get the customer’s confirmation that you understand – and then solve their problem! The potent thing about CRM is that if used correctly, you have the data to view your most reported problems and then fix the issue before the problem occurs. You also have the data to see what resolutions pleased the customer most times and empower and train your staff to resolve the issue with the most likely remedy. (This requires integration of your CRM and your Script Writing Team in your Customer Relations / Call Center Department. It is critical!)

CRM is an extremely powerful aid when used properly. (I had a client who increased share of wallet 4X over in less than 9 months!) However, it can also be extremely harmful or a waste of money if not used properly. And the best advice I can give to those who are administering the tool themselves is to implement the features one by one, test results (seed your CRM database just as you would a DM list), make adjustments as necessary and then implement the next best feature for your customers, repeat.

Most importantly, do not flood your customers with emails, newsletters, offers, etc. This will get you on a junk folder status before you can say CRM!

Good luck! Feel free to write in more questions and as always…Happy Marketing!