Using big data to collaborate with customers

15th Oct 2015

Big data requires companies to think beyond what they would normally consider to be their customer service responsibilities. But in a world where everything needs to be bigger and better than before, how can organisations put this into practice? 

Mick Yates is former head of international markets and business development at Dunnhumby, the group that helped launch the UK’s first data-hungry loyalty card – the Tesco Clubcard – in 1994. He believes we’ve now reached a point where companies need to revise the relationships they have with their customers. “In a world of big data, and where customers expect service, the exchange of information between customers and businesses needs to evolve,” he says.

But this evolution needn’t be a daunting prospect. Yates is convinced that creating a customer-centric business using big data does not have to be a ‘big’ job. “All a coffee chain has to do is install WiFi and it will get data showing some customers come in and use it all morning, while others want to dash in and dash out,” he says. 

Take down customers’ email addresses as part of the WiFi sign-in, he suggests, and suddenly the company can satisfy tomorrow’s flock of coffee-drinkers by suggesting they can text ahead, so that their coffee will be ready to take away. 

Ultimately, big data is about getting to know your customers and preempting their needs. If used properly, it can benefit both the customer and the organisation in equal measure. “No company has the right to lock people in forever, and customers will flit around,” Yates adds. “But by being relevant to [customers] through big data, companies have an opportunity to sell in the time they are with them.”

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