It’s that time of year again, the time of year when the world expects magical miracles, gifts galore, reconnections, hyper-personalised interactions, and bountiful good will - and your customers are no different. However, in the same way that you plan to buy that lavender body lotion for your mother-in-law (again), or those dull-grey socks for your dad, unless you know your customers intimately, or unless they tell you straight out, then you are simply using generalizations, stereotypes, last year’s information, and frankly prods-in-the-dark to guess what they want.
This kind of guesswork based on assumptions, suppositions, and generalizations, is all good and well when you are starting out and know little to nothing about your customer. However, if you are an established business with more than a santa’s sack full of clients, users, or buyers, then you have a wealth of data at your fingertips and no excuse not to tap into it. Well, actually, you have one excuse: the wrong software.
The Data Delusion
‘You’re wrong!’, I hear you cry, ‘I have a CRM; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram followers; mailing lists; newsletter subscribers, surveys from mobile app users...I have a plethora of data, and I know all about my customers’. Really? Be honest with yourself. Yes, you have the data - sprawled across multiple channels - but I put it to you that this confused, messy web of data does not directly translate into concrete, empirical, useful, accurate, and actionable knowledge. Not yet, anyway.
We love to think we know our customers, just like we love to think we know our relatives, but we are only human and our brains can only store a limited amount of information, make limited connections, and are limited in our ability to predict the behaviour of our fellow species. We make conclusions like: Dad wears socks, Dad needs socks, Dad hates shopping, I bought Dad socks last year and he was grateful, therefore I should buy him socks again this year. How do you know that Dad isn’t thinking of ditching socks this year in favour of a nice, new pair of brown-leather birkenstocks that allow his poor, sweaty feet to breath? You would know this if you could see Dad’s search history.
So, yes, you have customer data, but how fresh is it? How relative is it? How consolidated is it? How timely and accurate is it? Are you getting the best use out of it? Do you know that Jane got a promotion yesterday and now that she’s had a baby girl she’s in the market for one of those vintage prams? Or that John got married and took his husband’s name and is now John Murphy instead of John Smith? Or that Caroline is running the New York Marathon in a few months and is looking for sponsorship? You would know all of this if you had eyes and ears every where, but you don’t.
Humas, Relax! Let A.I. Do the Lifting
Customers leave data all over the place - on social media, at your store, through your app - all you need to do is gather all of that data every second of the day as it happens, consolidate it, update old data, remove duplicate information, analyze and interpret it, find patterns in it, apply rules and logic to it, update those rules and logic as you you learn more about the rules and the logic (exhausted yet?) and then use it to send timely and personalized offers and interactions. ‘But that’s not humanly possible!’, I hear you fret. You’re right, it’s not. That’s where artificial intelligence and it’s sidekick, machine-learning, come in.
To illustrate my point more clearly, I would like to use a Christmas allegory to explain how ZyloTech, the first ever customer data analytics platform to use machine-based learning and artificial-intelligence, powers marketers to leverage the data they already have to improve and personalise the experiences they offer to their customers. (See comic-strip below article).
Santa’s Prickly Predicament
In this story, Santa is the Head of Marketing, the postman is your old data collection systems and the little children are your customers. Santa’s old system of meticulously reading through one letter after another was tedious, relied too heavily on manual processes, and was also out-dated as more children are sending their wish-lists via social media, email, and mobile.
Santa is finding it hard to keep up with all this information. What if little Timmy sends Santa a letter explaining how he would like a new bike this Christmas? Okay, Santa will do his best to send him a brand new boys’ bike that he thinks will do the job, but what if Timmy tweets a picture of a pink bike with tassles on it to @Santa? Will Santa see the tweet in time before he risks gender stereotyping poor Timmy?
Santa wants all the children out there to feel that he listens. He wants them to have exactly what they want, but how can he be sure he’s getting it right? Santa already has the data he needs, he just needs a machine that is smarter than he and faster than he to pull all this data together and make sense of it.
Marketers, Take the Leap & Get Help!
Santa finds it hard to move away from what he knows, he doesn’t have the time and patience to learn new techniques. Luckily for Santa, one of his little helpers has a solution - she suggests he adopts an AI-technology driven customer data analytics platform called ZyloTech.
ZyloTech gathers all of your customer data from multiple channels such as socialmedia, mobile, web, offline media, email, and your store, and then consolidates it on one platform. It then cleans, polishes, and shines up the data through actions such as the removal of duplicate information (for example, it recognises that J Smith is the same person as John Smith); the deletion of outdated information (Miss Jane Brown is now Mr John Brown, post-op); addition of new information (such as Louise Matthew’s new job title); or the formation of connections among your contacts (for example, that John Smith and Kelly Clarke used to work together).
The Decision Phase
The next step - after the data management element - in customer relationship nurturing is the decision phase. You have the data, now what do you do with it? Most marketing departments rely on data scientists to crunch this big data. The problem with this method again lies in our limitations as humans.
The manual processes that data scientists utilize often take weeks and months and are capable of curating only a relatively small amount of data, by which time this data could be inaccurate. In comparison, an AI-driven platform can data crunch far more data than any human and it can do it in near-real time.
The decision layer of ZyloTech helps marketers to decide the next best action to take with a particular customer or account. Based on variables such as micro-segments (age, life-cycle status, gender, nationality, location etc.), propensity and trend affinity (likelihood to buy what, when, and through what channel), previous positive interactions (what calls-to-actions people responded to in the past) marketers can send their target customers and accounts truly personalized interactions and offers so as to nurture existing relationships, cross-sell, re-engage lost customers, and reward brand loyalty.
Data Scientists Can Never Beat A.I.
ZyloTech can not only replace the need for expensive data scientists it can also replace your existing rules-based systems with its AI-driven, embedded analytics engine. Why is this better? Rules-based systems have to be continuously, manually updated; are limited in the number of rules and indicators they can consider; and are simply not equipped to deal with the complexity of variables attached to today’s customer.
Artificial-intelligence and machine learning mean that ZyloTech’s rules, logic, and algorithms grow as your database of customer information grows. Through machine-learning, ZyloTech gets smarter everyday as it learns from itself, building upon hundreds of thousands of indicators every minute to determine how best to segment your customers, predict their behaviour and intent, and act upon this information in a timely fashion.
So now that ZyloTech has automated the data management and the decision making elements of the making-people-happy-at-christmas process, is there anything left for Santa and his team to do? Or are they completely redundant?
A.I. Job-Shares Some of the Work
Don’t fret, humans will never be redundant. There are some areas in marketing in which human interaction still trumps everything, and that is in the delivery. Artificial intelligence can do the heavy-lifting when it comes to gathering data and figuring out what the best marketing action is, but it is up to us to carry out that action.
We all love to get a personalized email, phone-call, or push notification - even if that communication is automated, if it has our names, an offer specific to us (brown-leather birkenstock), and maybe a personalized message like ‘Happy Birthday’, then it makes us feel a little warmer on a cold, Christmassy day.
ZyloTech integrates with your existing marketing automation and business intelligence tools so that you can carry out these actions the way you always have done.
A Christmas Miracle
So, have your customers stopped believing in you? Have their wish-lists got lost in the post? Do you really understand the wants and needs of Timmy this year compared to last year? Get your customers believing in miracles again with a little magic (okay, not exactly magic, but A.I. and machine-learning) from ZyloTech.
Click here for the full comic strip