Customers do not want to be promoted to anymore. They don’t want to be sold on something, al least in the traditional sense.

They all want to be wined and dined. They want that unique experience, that personalized care.

Now, if you're a believer of customer centricity, you know that not all customers have earned that Prime A Grade customized experience.

But then again, analytics provides a power to allow brands to deliver varying levels of what seems like intimate, just-for-me care to all of its customers.

And all your customers want those memorable experiences.

Driving Loyalty, Repeat Customers

“Even in the digital age, consumers crave meaningful connections with the brands they do business with,” says Dave O’Flanagan, co-founder and CEO of Boxever, a predictive marketing and customer intelligence platform for travel and retail companies.

“Memorable experiences drive loyal, repeat customers, the kinds who will speak loudly about your brand to everyone they know. The value of those evangelists, while hard to quantify, is difficult to deny.”

O’Flanagan’s had successes driving engagement with the airline industry. He created Boxever to help airlines to unlock customer data across their organizations’ silos, then collect it in one place to segment customers through behavior-based rules and predictive modeling.

“These insights into each customer help brands take action and make the right offer at the right time,” he says.

Surprise and Delight

O’Flanagan points to a time when he was actually a customer to illustrate the power of data-driven customer experience.

He had a moment of “surprise and delight” traveling with client Air New Zealand, when the airline’s app asked him what type of coffee he preferred when he landed. When he got off the plane and sauntered into the lounge, his cappuccino was waiting for him.

“It was a complete surprise, seamlessly blending the online and offline worlds into a delightful customer experience,” he said.

Non-Scientific Study

We did a quick survey of other customer experience initiatives powered by data science because airlines aren’t the only ones with successful initiatives in flight.

Software firm Intuit has enabled nearly bespoke user experiences during the use of its tax filing tool, of Turbo Tax. The use of “get to know me” questions at the onset of the customer experience then allows the software to trim down possible tax forms and fields into exactly what a user needs. The software can then also provide personalized recommendations and explanations as the user moves through the process.

Atlantis Paradise Island, the vacation resort in the Bahamas, turned to video analytics tools to create customized customer experience.

For instance, in its pre-arrival email campaigns, Atlantis uses SundaySky’s SmartVideo platform to create videos based on guests’ booking data, which give the viewer the sense that the resort is speaking to them on a one-to-one level.

Among other things, the videos suggest activities and amenities. They don’t just generate a warm and fuzzy feeling pre-arrival; sure, 89 percent of viewers reported the videos as helpful, but they also drove a 13 percent increase in pre-arrival guest spending.

Or take the example of an unnamed health insurance company. It wanted to understand the buying styles of people over 65 years of age and how it could better help them through the path to purchase.

The firm applied behavioral data, analytics and modeling, and came up with two clear segments of customers: the first who liked to gather information, compare and decide on their own, and a second group who preferred very hands-on assistance.

The insurance firm called the self-service people “Thoughtful Planners,” then proceeded to share with them all the tools, on- and offline, that could help them with their research. For the other group, termed the “Assistance Seekers,” the insurer set up an offer of free and live consultation with an agent.

Appealing to Various Groups

“In this way, the company was more likely to appeal to each group by meeting their needs, even though the client didn’t have to do or build anything new for either groups,” explained Scott Overholt, managing director of the healthcare markets at LiquidHub, which helped the insurer with the process.

So can other companies deliver meaningful, even intimate experiences for customers, using data from across digital and analog sources?

O’Flanagan has his first five baby steps to offer: 1) develop a single customer view; 2) layer transactional and behavioral data with context to personalize offers; 3) “delight and excite” through the sales funnel and beyond; 4) add value with comprehensive offers and promotions; and 5) create a “single source of truth” so everyone in your organization has one source of complete customer data.

Then begin wining and dining your customers — and giving them cappuccinos when appropriate. 

Title image "Holmes!!..." (CC BY-SA 2.0) by dynamosquito