Starting with the customer: Leveraging customer data - Retail Council of Canada
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Starting with the customer: Leveraging customer data

May 14, 2019
Starting with the customer: Leveraging customer data

Leveraging data and science to make better, more informed business decisions.

THE opportunities available to businesses today to leverage data and the latest technologies to improve engagement and the overall customer experience are nearly limitless. However, without the right strategies in place and a deep understanding of the customer, no amount of technologies or data will help achieve their business goals.

Canadian Retailer recently sat down with Jose Luis Gomes, Head of North America for dunnhumby— a global leader in customer data science—to discuss the importance of data today and the need for retailers to develop data-led customer strategies in order to succeed and grow their businesses.

CR: How important is data in today’s digital world and how can it be used to help inform business decisions?

Jose Gomes: Customer data is becoming more prevalent. The digital world has brought us a better understanding of customer behaviour and, as a result, the ability to personalize their experiences with brands. It’s also helping to create a number of opportunities for retailers. However, in order for businesses to realize these opportunities and offer their customers a truly personalized experience, they need to structure and operate differently to make the right decisions. Where should investments be made? Where is focus required for improvement? Science and software help support the business. And the data that’s generated as a result can help inform retailers, providing them with information to guide their decisions.

CR: Where should businesses start when it comes to leveraging data to inform business decisions?

JG: It all needs to start with a customer-first approach, which is nothing more or less than having a really solid understanding of what matters most to your target customers, the one’s you’ll grow your business with. Once a retailer understands what their target customers want, the next piece that is often missing is how to deliver on those wants versus their competitors. To enable execution, each business needs to evaluate their core competitive strengths and weaknesses and how to link all of their strengths with the available opportunities. From there, an understanding of required investments will be gained.

CR: How does the dunnhumby team help its retail clients achieve this understanding of their target customers?

JG: Our customer strategy team will conduct a project with a client in as little as 20 weeks in which we’ll aim to understand everything we can about their target customers. We leverage all the available behavioural analytics to understand how that customer is behaving in-store and how they’re interacting with the brand. We complement those insights with market research to better understand their perceptions. And then we layer in the science of behavioural economics to gain insights into the customers’ emotional drivers and how they feel about the brand, product and service. This analysis, combining all of these different points of data and information, allows us to help the retailer develop a detailed customer strategy plan. From there we get into the executional layers, moving from the customer strategy to price and promotions, category management and customer engagement. Linking all of these elements helps to create a data-driven strategy that allows the retailer to deliver in a way that improves the overall customer experience.

CR: Beyond operational components of the business, what other ways does dunnhumby help its clients improve customer interactions?

JG: There’s a cultural transformation within the business that needs to take place in order to deliver a truly personalized experience. The hearts and minds of staff need to be won around the notion of customer-first. And positive behaviour needs to be rewarded. It’s important that businesses tie customer satisfaction, retention and growth into executive and staff bonuses. To support a data-driven customer-first strategy, it’s important that everyone within the business buy into the strategy.

CR: Given everything that we can do with data today, what does the future hold?

JG: Access to data will be easier. There will be more of it, and it will be easier to transform into insights. As a result, exercises that are onerous today will become normalized. Everything will be better connected, more prevalent and on a greater scale. It will be faster, cheaper and easier to make better more informed decisions, tremendously impacting the customer experience.