Big Data and the Value of Making Repeated First Impressions

Contributed by: Ryan Cash

We spoke a couple of weeks ago about the importance of utilizing big data to create engaging and personalized content for consumers.  In today’s environment, people demand personalization in customer service and experience, and, not surprisingly, that same sentiment exists for marketing and advertising.  However, there is a crucial difference between the two.  With many services, one great interaction and a personalized experience can create significant loyalty.  And one bad interaction can serve the exact opposite purpose  

For example, if a hairdresser does a great job cutting your hair and engages you in an enjoyable conversation, you will probably go back to the same hairdresser.  Then, if they do not cut your hair as well the next time, your impression from the first experience may still drive you to return to the same hairdresser.  Conversely, most people would not return to a hairdresser who gave them a poor haircut on the first try.  Essentially, first impressions matter for good service.

Advertising, however, does not work the same way.  Personalization of the content becomes a necessary but insufficient condition to even make a first impression.  And much of this derives from the rise of the mobile internet, which has created a massive increase in data traffic.  We referenced a statistic in our last post that, according to Cisco, more data passed through mobile internet devices in 2014 than passed through the entire internet in 2000.  Consumers on their mobile phones are being blasted with content from all angles making personalization imperative to stand out from the crowd.  It’s well known that standardized, mass advertisements are less effective today.  They end up in the abyss of disregarded spam and internet trash.

In order to personalize content, you have to know your customer.  This clearly is where data is important.  It’s self-evident that knowing more about who you want to reach empowers you to better reach them.  It allows you to understand what they desire, and why they desire it; it allows you to make your message relevant to them.  In essence, you are practicing the art of effective communication, that is summarized succinctly by author Stephen Covey, who teaches the maxim, seek first to understand, and then to be understood.  Until you fully understand who you are trying to reach, you cannot really expect to know how to be understood by them.

But, it is still a necessary but insufficient condition.  You have to understand to be able to personalize and you have to personalize to be able to make a first impression, but it requires more.  Why?  People are bombarded by a surplus of information and they have a scarcity of attention span.  We need to be reminded.  Something may catch my eye on a web page, but I may accidentally click the back button, or change browser tabs, or a call may come through my phone, and I forget about it all together.  Even if I’m enticed to click something or take a next step from a personalized, creative direct advertisement, I may not have the time to go through with the process at the current moment, and I forget.  People need reminders.  And if you do not give them reminders, then you cannot expect that first impression to last.  An enticing advertisement is not congruent to a great haircut.

This means that you must not just know your customer, but you mustcontinue to know your customer.  You must be able to consistently put forth content that is relevant and personalized to your audience, and in order to do so, you must have accurate and current data.  It is easy to say that storing good data about your customers is key to knowing them, but is it really?  How frequently does that data become outdated?  People move, get married, change interests and jobs, and if you sit on a store of dated data, it will no longer be relevant more quickly than you think.  This speaks to the benefit of aggregating data in real time, but it also means that data collection, validation and storage needs to be a continuous process for companies.  It’s vital to be abreast of changes in the lives of your consumers and to always desire to learn more about them, their habits and their needs.  Only then can you consistently engage with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them.  And only then can you remind them frequently enough to stay current in their mind, and to entice them to action.

Cost of Social Media

contributed by: Colleen Boyce

Gossip has existed as long as humans have.  It is simple, as people are curious, social creatures who learn from one another.  It makes sense that we share our problems, our friends’ problems, our friends’ friends’ problems, and so on.  We use this information to gain a better understanding of the world around us so that we can survive.  In that sense, gossip is a blessing.  

However, in the past, gossip would only spread so far.  It would stay isolated in the area of the incident or would become so outrageous that it turned into folk stories used to scare children into behaving.  Today, gossip, whether true or false, spreads to every corner of the earth because of advancements in technology, most notably social media.  

With one click of a button, information can be sent to the world and never taken back, which in most cases is not all that bad; it might even be funny.  On the other hand, that one little tweet or Facebook post can cost a company millions in damage control.  No matter how exceptional customer service may be at a company, it only takes one person slightly faltering to cause an explosion. Anyone working in a business that interacts with people knows how serious the damage can be.  

This drives at the question, was social media a blessing or a curse for big businesses?  With it came new opportunities to advertise, a new wealth of information on customers, and a portal for users to share their exciting experiences with a company.  Some will argue that outweighs the cost of one bad mistake, and maybe it does for companies that can afford to make a mistake.

Others are not so lucky, but there are ways to prevent such disasters.  The easiest and most common solution is to have your employees trained to adhere by the age old adage, “the customer is always right.”  Another way is to have an alert set so that when a customer “hashtags” or discusses a company/brand then they are notified and are able to defuse the situation quickly and fairly quietly.  A slightly different solution would be preventing the problem before it is too far under way.  In this case, people who have a high number of followers are routed to the front of the line in the IVR because, if they have a complaint, they could cause the company the most damage.  

However, we will never be able to stop someone who, rather than seek help when they are unhappy with a product, instead turns to the internet to take out their frustration.  In this instance the only solution here is the goal of any company: produce the best product possible for your customers.  

The Pulse of a Startup

contributed by: Leo Inguaggiato

Walking into our office in Soho, you’ll be met with a sight that few in the business world have the pleasure of seeing. You’ll encounter a team of individuals happy to be working. At the same table you’ll find our CEO, COO, VP of sales, and business development team all sitting together finding the best verbiage for a flyer for our next conference.

The startup life is a gift that I encourage everyone to pursue. Each team member is happy to be here because all of our efforts make a tremendous impact on our company. It may sound corny, but we are blessed to function as a family unit where accountability and honesty are held above all else.

Next Caller may be the new kids on the block, and it’s always hard to make new friends, but when the new kid has a heart as big as ours it’s hard not to like us. We will save American companies from living in the dark about their clients, and allow them to know their callers one at a time.