What is a customer intelligence platform?
Customer Intelligence Platform
What is a customer intelligence platform?
How does a business see a customer? Are they a unique individual with their own wants and needs or just a number—a source of sales and revenue? In today’s world of online shopping, data analytics, and digital marketing, the answer, interestingly, is both.
Customers interact with businesses in a variety of ways. They visit stores, browse online, ask questions, leave reviews, and make purchases. What these businesses are now discovering is that this information isn’t just random actions and statistical noise, but the key to a new kind of retail customer experience—one with the potential for massive profit. The more a business knows about its customers, the more efficiently it can cater to their wants and needs. The more customers get what they want, the more they’re going to come back to convert on the second sale (and the third, and the fourth, etc). Ultimately, this reduces churn rates and grows customer lifetime value.
Making this data pay, however, is no easy task. In the early days of data-based retail marketing, a customer intelligence analyst might have sifted through the mountains of data and tried to find patterns and opportunities for success. With the rise of advanced customer analytics and machine learning, this is now the job of a customer intelligence platform such as a Customer Data Platform or CDP.
Depending on the kind of business you’re talking about, your customer intelligence definition will vary. Suffice to say that customer intelligence includes both all the accessible data about customers, such as 1st party, 2nd party, and 3rd party data like Experian’s Mosaic, as well as what this data means. A customer intelligence platform, then, is a smart database that keeps all the info you’ve gathered in one place and then analyzes it to tell you how it relates to wants, preferences, loyalty, purchasing habits, favorite brands, and more. These insights are what enable management to plan deals, product lines, ad campaigns, and other promotions that customers will like and respond to.
In short, a customer intelligence platform helps you figure out how to make customers happy so they choose to shop with you. This technology is revolutionizing every corner of the retail market, and if you run a business, you need to know how it works. Notably, some types of CDPs are considered customer intelligence platforms due to their strength in analytics.
Customer intelligence tools
Customer intelligence platforms use advanced statistical methods, predictive analytics, and AI computing to figure out what customers want and how they are going to act. This can be done in many different ways, and as a result there are a number of unique and versatile customer intelligence tools on the market. Getting familiar with some of the major players is an important first step for businesses looking to enter into the world of customer intelligence.
SAS has been working in customer and marketing analytics for decades. As such, SAS customer intelligence software is some of the most mature. Their state-of-the-art analytics engines are built to deal with any and all data types and trained to see patterns and cause/effect relations invisible to others.
Informatica is another intelligence platform provider known for its flexibility. Not only can their software be applied in any environment, it is also designed to be scalable. That means that everyone from the smallest mom-and-pop to multinational chains can see success with these tools.
Because of Microsoft’s diverse product offerings and status as a tech giant, they have chosen to focus their efforts on only one area of customer intelligence. The Microsoft customer data platform (CDP) is built to capture and sort vast quantities of information into one convenient and organized archive. This way it can easily be accessed and monitored by analytics programs and upper management.
While many customer intelligence applications can be applied in a wide variety of situations, few have taken this customization and adaptability to the level that Accenture has. The Accenture insights platform is built to capture and illuminate data in any setting, from healthcare to news and media to the military.
Lexer stands out for being one of the few companies to offer data collection, archiving, enrichment, omnichannel marketing activation, reporting, and analysis. Having all these bases covered means Lexer is uniquely equipped to deal with any and all data-based challenges a business may face. It also means they can provide a level of operation and customer data integration unmatched by others.
By unifying all of your data into a single customer view, enriching customer profiles with third-party data such as Experian’s Mosaic, and providing straightforward tools for tracking and measuring the impact of your marketing, Lexer helps brands and retailers move from channel-centric to customer-centric business models.
Customer intelligence and analytics
When entering into the world of customer data and data-driven business cultures, you’re likely to come across the terms “customer intelligence” and “customer analytics.” While often used interchangeably, they refer to two different but equally important ways of understanding the people who shop with you.
The most simple way of thinking about this difference is to frame it in terms of time, and customer intelligence is designed to focus on the here and now. As part of customer intelligence, data about customers such as visit frequency, online browsing patterns, and preferred brands is monitored constantly.
If you can collect enough omnichannel data and metrics on enough customers, you’ll have a clear, 360-degree picture of your shopper base. You’ll be able to see what products they like, how they feel about your business, what they need and what they find interesting. All this represents your customer base as it is right now at this particular moment. Managers looking at all this data together in your intelligence platform can look for patterns, trends, and opportunities to improve aspects of the customer experience, such as improving marketing effectiveness, reducing online returns, or building personalized customer journeys for every lifecycle stage. Customer intelligence is a lot like the pulse of your customer base.
Customer analytics, on the other hand, looks at the future. The large amounts of data collected in your CDP can be taken by themselves and searched for quick customer insights, but they can also be subjected to statistical analysis. Advanced software, built with AI and machine learning technologies can look at this data and generate precise and accurate predictions about how it will behave in the future. These models are vital to management, because they reveal what customers are going to do, want, and need in coming months and years. This allows businesses to adapt better to changing trends and continue providing customer satisfaction as time goes on.
Customer intelligence tools and customer analytics software are both central to crafting a great customer experience. Both these processes should be integrated into your customer intelligence platform, and businesses which want to succeed should always be thinking about both the present and the future.
Customer intelligence examples
To better understand the benefits and real-world impact of CDPs and customer analytics tools can have for businesses, some customer intelligence examples are useful.
Registers equipped with special POS software can capture many kinds of important info. What products are being bought at different times of year can inform business owners which items are popular, what seasons people are most likely to buy, and whether there is any correlation between the two. This way specific items can be kept in stock then they are in greatest demand, and marketing campaigns can be sent out at the right time for maximum impact. These systems can also determine who the biggest spenders are so that they can be given discounts and other perks to encourage them to shop even more.
Similar kinds of info can be gathered from online stores. The purchases people make can be analyzed to determine which are the hottest items and whether or not they are subject to seasonal changes in demand. As well, if you allow customers to leave reviews about different items, you can quickly learn what kinds of products customers like, what they’d like to see made available, and determine the reasons certain items might be selling poorly.
Data can also be obtained from customers while they are elsewhere on the web. Software can track which ads people respond to, where they are most likely to see and interact with them, and how often this engagement leads to sales. This can be extremely helpful in creating more effective ad campaigns, and this info can be used to personalize the kinds of marketing aimed at individual shoppers.
These are just a few of the sources of customer intelligence and their potential uses. The result of these efforts is that businesses learn how customers think, what they want, and what would make them more satisfied with their buying experience. This means happier customers and greater revenue for business owners.
Customer intelligence and insights
This is just an overview of the capabilities and advantages of retail data and customer intelligence. With the move to online forms of commerce and advances in data analysis software, digital marketing and customer engagement tools and strategies are becoming more important and staying competitive without them is becoming more difficult. Even if your business operates only in brick-and-mortar locations, these systems can make a huge difference in the kind and quantity of business you receive.
But why is customer intelligence important? At the end of the day, numbers are just numbers. Intelligence—knowing what customers are buying, where they’re buying it, and how often—is only half the story. What intelligence leads to is insight. All the data stored in your CDP is just a snapshot of the ways people are interacting with your business. It is up to management and predictive analytics software to figure out how to use it. Customer intelligence allows businesses to learn what customers want and give it to them. With these tools you can determine what products to offer, what kinds of ads to display, how to price your inventory, and more. All this leads to greater trust, stronger loyalty, and more sales. Customer intelligence and insights go hand in hand and are the best way to stay current and successful whatever the future may hold.
Lexer is the CDP vendor of choice for leading brands like Quiksilver, Igloo, Nine West, Rip Curl, Supergoop!, and more. As the only CDP specializing in retail, we help the world’s most iconic brands drive incremental sales from improved customer engagement. Click here to learn how to build the business case for a CDP.