Magazine article CRM Magazine

Analyzing the New Customer: Customer Analytics Are Emerging as a Competitive Advantage

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Analyzing the New Customer: Customer Analytics Are Emerging as a Competitive Advantage

Article excerpt

CUSTOMERS are more complex--and harder to understand--than ever. After years of economic upheaval, their priorities and behaviors have changed drastically--perhaps permanently. They're more demanding and better informed, and their loyalty is increasingly elusive.


Change breeds uncertainty, but advanced customer analytics--an integrated framework that employs quantitative methods to derive actionable insights from data, and then uses those insights to shape business decisions--can help set and steer an organization's growth agenda. Powerful analytical tools can help foster customer loyalty, improve the return on marketing investment, and generate new revenue streams.

In short, analytics can deliver a significant payoff. Research confirms that high-performing businesses--those that substantially outperform over the long term and across economic, industry, and leadership cycles--are five times more likely to use analytics strategically than low performers are. [Note: Visit for a PDF download.] These high-performing businesses know that technology alone will not create an effective analytical competitor, and they understand that analytics is more than the collection and storage of data. In fact, a company that advances its analytics capabilities has the potential to move beyond mere descriptive analytics toward predictive analytics, which can suggest responses to changing scenarios.

Turning data into actionable insight is increasingly essential--and increasingly difficult. The deluge of data--from such sources as social networks, mobile devices, and built-in sensors--presents tremendous opportunities, but major challenges as well. Chief among these is the burden of organizing, analyzing, and identifying the insights provided by so much new information. Analytical leaders adhere to four principles that are effective in launching or extending customer analytics initiatives:

1. Analyze what is useful and actionable, not just what is at hand. All too often, managers use data to justify what they were going to do anyway. In other cases, they review only data that is already assembled, because it is easy to access. Data must be vetted, augmented when necessary, and put to use in addressing new segments with better offerings.

2. But don't ignore existing databases that can be mined with fresh eyes. …

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