There was a time when Big Data seemed like some sort of esoteric knowledge only available to heads of big companies with lots of money to spend on data gathering and analytics. Over the last couple of years, however, we have seen Big Data demystified and implemented by businesses of all sizes. Big Data is no longer a big mystery, and we’ve even seen how it can help small businesses thrive in the age of digital transformation.
The adoption rates of Big Data climbed to 53% in 2017, which is a significant increase from 2015’s 17%. The adoption rates are expected to continue climbing because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that data usage can help businesses achieve many of their strategic goals. For businesses that have set customer-centricity as one of their major goals, shifting towards a data-centric culture can bring many benefits.
Why Is Customer Centricity So Important?
Customer centricity is a business culture that puts the customer at the center of business activities. Businesses who want to use a customer-centric model have several different techniques they can use to achieve their goals. The most common ones are designing high-quality customer experience across all channels and points of contact, rewarding customer loyalty, personalized communication with customers, and special attention to customer feedback.
These techniques are relatively easy to implement. A small e-commerce website built on a WordPress platform can be as customer-centric as a big retailer with lots of money to spend on catering to their customers. They both have the same incentive to do it — customer-centricity was shown to boost profits by up to 60%. Most business owners, however, don’t need statistics to see the benefits of customer-centricity. In a crowded market, as most markets are these days, the businesses that are better at providing additional value to their customers are those that will thrive. Adopting a customer-centric approach involves providing additional value.
Big Data and Customer-Centricity
With the benefits of customer-centricity clear, the question that remains is how to power customer-centric decision making. The answer that’s come about in the last couple of years is using Big Data to fuel a customer-centric approach.
Businesses often create several customer personas. These personas represent different segments of their existing and ideal customer bases. Businesses use customer personas to tailor messaging, user experience, and even deals and discounts, to the exact measure of each segment of customers. The logic is that the better businesses segment their audience, the more relevant they can make the messaging and experience. And the more information businesses have about their customers, the better they can segment them.
That’s where Big Data and analysis come in. Using data collected from various points of contact, businesses can get a much more detailed view of their customers. Businesses can learn interesting things such as who influences the customers’ purchase decision, how they search for product information, what kind of content do they like, and even what are their personal goals. That’s an incredible level of insight. And it doesn’t have to represent a breach of customers’ privacy, as long as the data is fully anonymized and safely stored. Using the right analytics and the right data, businesses can better understand customer behavior, which is very important if they want to build their business around the customers.
Issues with Data-Centricity
Businesses can get great benefits from using Big Data to build a customer-centric approach. However, they will have to find a way around several barriers before their data-centric strategy becomes fully effective.
One of the most common barriers is an overreliance on quantitative data. That’s the data businesses can precisely measure and analyze. Businesses love this type of data because of the sheer volume of data they can access. It also helps that this data is relatively objective and cost- and time-effective to gather. But it’s questionable whether quantitative data alone can provide a thorough insight into a customer base. Businesses have the option to gather qualitative data. It might be significantly harder to analyze, but it will provide a better insight into customer engagement and the reasons behind behavioral patterns.
Digital transformation is steamrolling everything in its way. We’ve seen examples of big retailers that have gone under because they weren’t able to connect with their customer base in the digital world. But we’ve also seen small businesses jump in and fill the void with carefully constructed, customer-centric strategies. There is no doubt that building business strategies around the needs of customers is a sound strategy for businesses trying to survive the digital transformation. And it’s equally as clear that, right now, a data-centric approach is the best way to do it.
Big data is having a profound impact on the relationships businesses have with their customers. They are embracing it to become more responsive and develop higher quality solutions on many fronts. However, some challenges remain, because some brands have trouble connecting with their customers even in a big data universe. These challenges should be addressed in the years to come.