Sharpen your customer insights with unstructured data

Sharpen your customer insights with unstructured data
Kuldeep Deshpande
Posted by on October 12, 2016 in Blog

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

When Peter Drucker said this, I am sure he must be thinking about customer experience and communicating with customers.

Customer insight is about understanding activities of the customer but it is more about understanding what the a customer ‘feels’, ‘perceives’, ‘thinks’ and about influencing the ‘thoughts’ and ‘perceptions’ of the customer.

Traditional techniques of customer insights include collecting and aggregating data in CRM, billing and various internal systems and sketching a picture of the customer journey. However, this picture is always incomplete without tracking communication happening with the customer.

Thus analysis of unstructured data, spoken and written by and about customers is imperative for gaining competitive advantage.

So how can businesses gain insights from what is being said by and about the customers?

Here are some interesting examples that I have observed and implemented for some clients in last couple of years.

Before a customer becomes a ‘customer’

  • Find out who are good customer – The quest for customer insights should begin before a customer becomes a ‘customer’.  One of our clients uses social media sentiment and feedback about small businesses to decide credit worthiness and grant loans to small businesses. Not just this, they also find out who are the competitors of a business applying for a loan and solicit these competitors! Data available on social media about various small businesses is used as input for all this.
  • Product recommendation – Today’s customers covet personalised experience. Product recommendation is one of the best way to provide personalised experience. Many studies have proven that ‘Product Recommendations’ based upon customers behaviour and preferences, give great conversion rate. Amazon’s product recommendation mechanism has proven it time and again. Analysing footprints of customers in shape of unstructured data can give immense information about their behaviour and preferences. On created customer persona, with the help of unstructured data, businesses can recommend the products which customers would love to see.

During journey of the customer

  • Make customer service more reliable – “It is no longer enough to satisfy your customers. You must delight them.”, said Marketing Guru Philip Kotler.  Various parameters of customer service can be improved by knowing more about customer’s journey since the product purchase. Customer Call centres generate large amount of recorded voice call data. Many call centres have started to analyse this data to find areas to enhance. Impeccable and reliable customer service can be achieved by analysing unstructured data like voice calls.
  • Best fit product for a customer – Customer service call logs can be a great input to achieve product cross sell. One of our clients, an enterprise IT Product Company uses pain areas expressed in the customer service calls as input to recommend best product suitable for the customers. Many intense customer service calls have resulted in reshuffling product portfolio of the customers for this company.
  • Analyze customer sentiment – Customer is not happy about some issue, she sends an email, the mail is not taken note of properly, issue aggravates and there comes a day when it becomes a serious escalation. ‘Oh! How did we not notice this? Who could have avoided this? ‘Sounds familiar? Unstructured data has a solution for this challenge. Some companies are tapping email exchange between a customer and support / technology teams to summarize topics being discussed, probable issues of escalation and predict when and which issue can cause an escalation. Senior management of an organization can monitor a simple half pager report and make sure there are no landmines that are being ignored! Yes, text analytics can predict if your customer is getting unhappy with you by analyzing your email exchange with your customers.  Reach out to me if you would like to see a demo of this application. Check out our Gadfly created on the same principle as well.

Is this process of gaining customer insights by leveraging unstructured data too complex? Does it involve complex technology implementations? How can small businesses leverage power of unstructured and big data to gain competitive advantage?

Stay tuned……answers to these questions in next few blogs.

Note: This article is a part of ‘Big Data for Actionable Customer Insights’ series. Stay tuned for upcoming articles.