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Big Data, Social and the Customer Experience

By Allie Philpin

Big data… its rise has been almost meteoric, causing concern for many an organisation!  Now, if you’re a large corporate, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a big investment has been made in building an IT framework of suitable applications and resources in order to not only collect this data, but analyse it and garner the valuable information from it.  But if you’re a smaller organisation, it is probably not that simple and there aren’t the budgets available to make this sort of investment.

According to Customers 2020 Report, customers are expecting companies to know what they need, to personalise any message they are receiving, and will also expect companies to be proactive in “…addressing current and future needs.”  For any company that is a large ask; for a smaller company, not only do they little funds to invest in the technology required to make this task more achievable, they often don’t have the personnel resources either.  Before they know it, those data streams from social media, customers and online avenues can turn into data lakes!  The challenge is multi-faceted; effective data collection and storage, analytical skills, understanding the information gathered, and turning that information into a rich source for your marketing, sales and customer service teams to use.  Not a small challenge, then?

What is making it easier is that more and more customers are becoming more comfortable with companies holding their personal information in order to receive a more personalised experience.  Cisco’s recent Customer Experience Report found that 49% of consumers across a variety of countries would allow retailers to collect their personal shopping data if they were to receive a better and more personalised experience.  In addition, a further 54% were happy to have their purchase history stored.

But in order to provide that ultimate customer experience, the data needs to be collected in the most effective way to deliver a 360-degree view of your customer.  Information, including feedback, via just one or two channels isn’t enough in today’s customer-oriented business world; one of those channels has to be your social media platforms, which is where you will find most customers will share their experiences, their honesty and provide you with a range of ideas on where you can improve.

Big data has brought big challenges; the answer is to address it step by step.  Take a data stream, decide how you are going to collect, manage and analyse that data, how it can be beneficially used and then use it effectively.  From there, you can start to build on that base and gradually tackle all your big data issues, turning it into valuable information.

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