I was thinking about loyalty the other day. I had just sat through a company presentation where we talked about the almost 2 years of experience we have with Net Promoter Score. In the same meeting we also talked about our new Web site and how we were going to start capturing visitor data via our Web analytics tools and then incorporate that data into our CRM system. And at the end of the meeting, the topic even began to cover the piloting of capturing social media data and putting that it into CRM. Wow, that’s a lot of data. But what’s the connection between loyalty and data.
In the past, I’ve written about two distinct ways that connect data and loyalty. First, by applying what I call Closed Loop Marketing, a company can create endless loops of communication between consumers and companies. By opting in, a company can track a Web site visitor’s behavior, match with data captured from offline interactions like events, retail transactions or customer service. Then if intelligence is applied to understand the needs and wants of the customer, a company can reach back out to the customer to advance to dialogue, drive incremental transactions or take care of service incidents, closing the communication loop and advancing the relationship and by extension increasing loyalty.
In other contexts, I’ve made arguments about how companies can begin to use a mix of behavioral data captured online, demographics from CRM systems and transactional data from line of business systems to enable predictive analytics that will optimize response rates, close rates and ROI in general.
But today I had an epiphany. The missing piece has been the role of market research. Traditionally we think of market research as focus groups, qualitative and quantitative research and endless cross-tabs slicing and dicing every possible sort of data. And more recently, market research has been turned upside down with the advent of online surveys like Zoomerang and SurveyMonkey. But what is still in its infancy is the pairing of market research analytic expertise with social media influence monitoring.
So what does it all mean? For over a decade we’ve been hearing about the 360° view of the customer. And this has for the most part meant getting more individual data about a customer to be able to sell them more. But what it lacks, besides the fact that virtually no one has achieved it, is that we need to stop talking about data and start talking about intelligence. Capturing transactional data from online and offline is valuable, but only if someone is looking at that data and gaining insight from it.
CRM is primarily a tool of sales people and sales people do not have the time, the background or the motivation to analyze data and turn it into insight. Campaign or brand managers are only interested in their slice of the customer and aren’t really the best choice to be the customer’s advocate.
My choice is to call upon the market researchers. Their skills lend themselves to be good listeners and good ones have the ability to synthesize and extract patterns, critical keys to gaining true understanding of behavior.
So to all of those fellow travelers in the market research space who are seeing their budgets being stripped, there traditional approaches being usurped by self-service tools online and are wondering where their next career move will take them. Start looking at yourselves as the customer advocate and make sure everything you are doing advances your understanding of customer behavior and that you are able to translate that for your businesses or your clients. That will be where you add the most value and this is the key to loyalty.