Companies are learning how to unlock the value of their customers’ personal data through the use of tools like chatbots and interactive customer service experiences, personalized recommendations, and customized credit offers. From corporate offices to hospital administration to personal finance, data is transforming the marketing world to such an extent that many facets of our lives would be virtually unrecognizable to citizens from the early twentieth century.
Think about it: personal statistics, business revenue, healthcare statistics, even credit history—these aspects of our lives are quantified and reduced to numbers in a database or spreadsheet, somewhere. Moreover, much of this data never even makes it to the printed page. Reports and presentations of the past were printed out on paper or written out via accounting ledgers. But this is no longer. Rather, information is stored in what’s known as “the cloud,” and to someone from the 19th or 20th century, this language would make no sense whatsoever.
From chatbots and interactive social media pages to consumer-created products, surveys, and perks, marketing is becoming more personalized than ever before. If customers are strategic and aware of their value to retailers, they will be able to successfully navigate the newly ubiquitous nature of online data mining and customized marketing campaigns to their own advantage.
1. Interactive Customer Service
Through platforms such as chatbots and social media pages, companies can capture quite a bit of information from customers, from the types of questions asked to which products are of the most interest to those customers. If companies are savvy, they will incorporate the conversations that customers have with their service agents and use it to better understand what customers want, so they can tailor future services to what customers most avidly want and need.
Maryville University writes, “By understanding the consumer’s pain points, purchase preferences, and shopping habits, specific marketing campaigns can speak directly to the intended audience.” Since any information about buying habits or customer preferences is bound to come up, during a customer service agent’s conversation with a customer—either online or in person—such information should be utilized as valuable feedback that could help a company improve the customer experience or “buyer’s journey” for future fans of the same product.
Some people even prefer to connect via online chat or messaging apps, while making a purchase — 26 percent, to be exact, according to eMarketer. Of course, the extent to which chatbots are able to access each customer’s user-generated data is dependent upon the technology that is used — such as what page they are on, what they clicked, and the nature of their searches.
Companies like Netflix and Amazon are personalizing customer experiences by recording which movies their customers watch and recommending similar films, based on other users’ data and watching patterns. Moreover, users are paying attention: apparently, 35 percent of all sales are generated by Amazon’s recommendation engine. And Netflix’s recommendation algorithm is the most powerful and successful on the market.
Interestingly, health care is no stranger to this increasing pattern of data collection. According to George Zachariah, hospitals can benefit from the use of data analytics in five major ways: administrative costs are reduced; clinical decision-making is supported; abuse and fraud are minimized; coordination of patient care improves; and patient wellness increases. Hospitals and medical clinics have been forced to maximize their efficiency, whenever possible, due to ongoing state and federal budget cuts, so data analytics will likely continue to be implemented, in healthcare IT.
Retail personalization is also influencing the healthcare wearables market, with many customers taking charge of their health by utilizing apps like Google Fit or smart devices like Fitbits to monitor their own heart rates and activity levels. Moreover, due to rising costs for direct care, many are going one step further and turning to telemedicine and genetic testing to determine their ancestral risk for conditions like heart disease or breast cancer. Much of this independent research and treatment is taking place because healthcare has become so expensive and out of reach for so many. As a result, the retail marketplace is wasting no time in filling the gaps.
3. Consumer Credit
If you don’t realize your financial data and credit history is easily obtainable by banks, credit card companies, lenders, and potential employers, perhaps you’ve been practicing hermitage in a mountain cave somewhere deep in the wilds of Idaho. Yes, people with loads of financial power and cultural capital have the power to learn all about your financial history at the push of a button. Unfortunately, the world of data analytics has a big hand in how much credit you’re likely to have access to, at any given time.
So what can you do to alter your financial data records and improve your credit score? Well, first you should focus on paying off old debts and keeping current accounts up to date, payment-wise. If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of your credit report, you’re legally entitled to a free credit report if you are denied credit for any reason. It’s also fairly easy to obtain your credit report online for a small fee, so be sure to look into that, as well.
One way to rebuild your credit is through opening a new credit card account and paying off the balance right away. As long as you remain up to date on payments, you’ll be able to reliably rebuild your credit, which will help your credit rating. Just remember not to take on too much debt. If you’d like a relatively surefire way to get approved, apply for a secured credit card account. Secured credit cards require a deposit to open an account, and your spending limit is determined by your security deposit, rather than your credit score. Mind the fine print, however, as some SCCs come with extremely high late or annual fees.
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Do you work in marketing? If so, how has data analytics influenced the way you do business? Share your experiences in the comments section, below.