TAG Retail Recap: Improving the Customer Experience with Analytics

Last week, I had the honor of moderating the TAG (Technology Association of Georgia) Retail session on the topic of ‘Improving the In-Store Customer Experience with Analytics.’ The session was a panel discussion comprised of industry leaders in analytics, digital, customer experience, sales and marketing, and consumer measurement insights. It is expected that the stores and the cloud will see the biggest bump in IT spend for 2016. So this is a very timely topic, and one near and dear to me.

To set the stage, let me open by sharing that while everything we read today points to the steady growth of eCommerce, it may come as a surprise to those outside of the retail industry that 75-80% of sales are still happening in the store. This means that retailers, more than ever before, need to get customers into the stores and wow them. It’s not about meeting expectations. It is about exceeding them. The customer can just as easily and just as quickly walk next door and they will.

This means we need to create positive experiences for customers now and that we need to know what they are ‘thinking’ and where/how they are engaging with our brands. How do they ‘feel’ about the brand and the experience? Ed King, VP of Strategy, MaxMedia, shared some of the technology his company is using such as cognitive analysis as well as virtual reality exercises to gain insights. Michael Manlapas, VP of International Sales, RetailNext mentioned technology that can distinguish customers from staff and tell what they are doing on the sales floor – where they are lingering and for how long. In retail today it is about constant measuring of customer behavior and going beyond structured and into the unstructured data. Blending social media with call center conversations, on-line chat sessions, product reviews, customer surveys along with purchase history. Larry Krebs, K2View explained how Publix measures customer loyalty, without the benefit of a customer loyalty program.

Unstructured Data was a huge part of the discussion. Eihab Mikhail, Enterprise Architect, Global Payments, defined unstructured data as data from sources such as, reviews, feedback, call center, and social data.

Alan Outlaw, President North America, truRating, explained that 1% of the population provides 80%+ of all content, 9% will provide feedback if really upset or really happy, and 90% will never provide feedback. Do you really want to make decisions based on 10% of your customers?

But we didn’t just talk about technology. Baileigh Allen, Practice Lead, Market Research & Analytics, ‎MarketSource spoke about the use of Voice of the Customer programs and the importance of teaching employees how to effectively chat with customers to gain insights and opportunity. She stressed the fact that humans are tactile beings. They like to touch and feel and they like to interact. Retail needs to listen and truly get to know their customers in order to give them what they want and need from the brand. Not just know what the customer bought or has bought in the past and how much they spent.

There are many ways to capture live or near-live customer sentiment, including the all-important Net Promoter Score which collects customer feedback with just one or two easy to understand questions and provides a score. Alan Outlaw brought up Uber since the rider is asked to rate the driver before ending the ride. These are great and easy tools to use however they still don’t capture the ‘why’ of the customer’s feelings. Ed King explained that the actual decision to buy is made in the subconscious and there is some science that can be used to help determine what the triggers may be. Ed went on to challenge the audience on how purchasing decisions are made, and when logic factors in. Ed took a stand that pre-purchase and purchase decisions are emotional. Consumers use logic to justify their purchases after the fact! This goes to show just how important emotion is to retail.

After I completed my prepared questions around unstructured data and the impact of mobility in analytics and retail, I opened the floor to audience questions. This is where things got really interesting. The audience questions were raw and unfiltered, and brought out the Reality of Retail.

I closed the session with 4 unanswered audience questions (sorry, we ran out of time), and asked the panelists for thoughts on providing tablets to associates. Most panelists agreed that tablets would be a great way to arm associates with content about products and customers, as well as a way for associates to provide data about shopping experiences real-time, but cautioned against making a blanket statement and urged us to really evaluate the use cases.

Thank You Nick Jones and Liz Simpson at TAG Retail for allowing me to moderate a panel of industry experts.


Moderator: Caroline Dunn, SPI@thecarolinedunn, @SPI_Speak

Meeting Lead: Nick Jones, Global Payments, @zqgdrmq, @GlobalPayInc

TAG Retail Tech Chair: Liz Simpson, SPANX, @Paradox_Chic, @SPANX

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 07:30 AM – 09:00 AM

Location: Global Payments, 10 Glenlake Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30328

Social Media: #RetailSmartData

TAG Retail Tech – @TAGRetail

TAG – @TAGthink

Caroline Dunn is an experienced marketing executive combining her natural leadership ability and engineering education in marketing communications, content marketing, social media, and product management. She has a proven track record in exceeding sales objectives, leading execution teams, and campaign management.

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