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Using EDM to meet CRM challenges and use what you know about your customers

Two articles in CIO magazine caught my eye this week. Firstly, Meridith Levinson wrote Getting to Know Them, an article about some award-winning systems. This was a great article and a couple of things occurred to me as I read it in terms of how enterprise decision management or EDM could be applied.

  • She emphasized that the key to better service for customers is improving the service offered by front line staff.
    My experience is that this often means empowering them to make decisions more effectively, the focus of EDM.
  • There was a focus on customer-facing employees not technology
    This is true but customers use systems too. If a really good customer gets great service from an employee but rotten service from your website or IVR system, they will not feel the love. If you only focus on getting information to people then your systems will not meet the needs of your customers.
  • Every one of the winners identified their business need first
    Often this means finding the decision you want to improve and then focusing on improving it. Not on collecting, cleaning or reporting data but on the decision you hope that data will improve.
  • Continental Airlines example of rewarding delayed customers is a good example of an opportunity for EDM
    After all there are different possible rewards so you would like to be able to predict what might be appealing to a customer or segment and you need adaptive control to keep testing approaches to see what works.
  • The example of automated re-booking is a great EDM example
    Take a stressful manual decision that must be completed in a short time window by someone who cannot have all the information at their figure tips and instead make an automated decision as to who is a really good customer (and who is not); then decide how much you are therefore willing to spend to give them a good experience; finally decide on the best possible rerouting you can find given those constraints. Decision-centric, rules and analytics. EDM.
  • Ace's better targeting is another example
    You can get really personalized if you focus on the individual customer marketing decisions and combine both rules (as discussed in the article) with analytics (for segmentation and predicting customer behavior).

Alicia Acebo, Continental's data warehousing director, said "Before the data warehouse, the person who yelled the loudest got the best service. Now our most valuable customers get the best service," and that should be your objective. Just remember, to make that true, all the customer treatment decisions you make (through staff, through the website, through the options presented to a customer) should reflect what you know about your customer. To do this you should think of your home page as a decision and not a page so that you can generate a personalized page for every customer. You should focus on growth decisions and deliver more (and better) self-service. This means becoming more customer-centric (which means being decision-centric).

The second article was one by Shawna McAlearney CRM: Challenges and Advice for CIOs in 2007. This seemed to be based in part on the work Accenture does with Montgomery Research (for whom I wrote a recent White Paper on Smart-Enough Customer Decisions). The article identified a number of pieces of advice for some of which I have some follow-up, EDM-centric thoughts.

  • Striking a balance in how they use resources to market to the most valuable consumer segments; 
    Analyze your data to find out what makes someone valuable, use predictive analytics to identify those who will be valuable and descriptive analytics to segment them. Apply this to all interactions, not just manual ones.
  • Distinguishing themselves through customer interactions that support a branded customer experience; 
    Again, every interaction contributes. Customers think that every decision you make about treating them is deliberate so you need to manage these decisions as though that were true.
  • Using analytics tools to gain a deeper understanding of the actual intentions of customers in their own words.
    Understanding customers is not enough, you must be able to act on it and your systems must be able to act on it also.

EDM is a powerful tool for CRM and marketing. Use it.

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