Lack of predictive analytics traps customers in vicious cycles based on their past selves
Marlow, UK – Most businesses are at risk of trapping their customers in a cycle of repeated recommendations, according to a new report from analytics leader SAS. Nine in 10 (93 per cent) businesses are unable to use analytics to accurately predict what individual customers will want in future.
However, more than half (54 per cent) mistakenly believe they are ‘best-in-class’ or ‘transformational’ when it comes to using customer intelligence to shape their marketing campaigns.
Despite a wealth of good intentions, including a big push towards using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the customer journey, too many customers are being left in their own ‘digital shadows’. They are being served with communications and offers using incomplete data or data that is no longer relevant to their current interests or lifestyles. Even where the data is relevant, often backward-looking analysis is carried out meaning the organisation is not establishing the ‘next best action’ for that customer.
“No matter how many organisations say they’re using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve their customer experience, the reality is clearly far behind the talk,” commented Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland. “Too many companies are not using all the information available to make accurate predictions about their customers’ latest tastes and circumstances, trapping them in the digital shadows of their past selves. As a result, businesses are missing out on new revenue streams, not to mention the risk of damaging their customer relationships.
“Regardless of the industry, most consumer-facing organisations admit they are still driven by internal sales and targets over customer experience. They need to implement predictive analytics to avoid leaving customers in a rut,” she continued. “It’s essential to incorporate as much data as possible – internal and external, online and offline – in real-time analytics engines to ensure the insights they produce are as accurate as possible. Only then can you achieve the kind of intelligent personalisation that modern consumers now demand.”
There’s a clear gulf between what companies think they can do and what they actually deliver. Although they are quick to sign up to buzz topics like AI and real-time customer engagement, many are failing to make good on their promises. For example, although a quarter (25 per cent) claim to calculate new offers based on real-time context, only 10 per cent purposefully introduce new products to see whether customers will try new things. The majority (61 per cent) base recommendations solely on historical data and previous purchases. In other words, customers are likely to receive recommendations based on things they bought previously, no matter what they are looking for now.
For many, this problem is compounded by an inability to personalise their marketing in real time. Although over half (54 per cent) of businesses say they can optimise suggested actions based on real-time behaviour, in reality only 10 per cent calculate customers’ ‘next best action’ on the go. The vast majority cannot even tell when customers have a major life event like getting married (74 per cent), having a baby (77 per cent) or retiring (86 per cent), leaving them unable to change their service offering to match. Businesses must pay more attention to their customers’ immediate circumstances if they’re to provide a truly personalised service.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- Only eight per cent of companies can view their customers as a ‘segment of one’, while a third (33 per cent) do not segment their customer base at all
- A third of companies (30 per cent) use less than half of the customer data they hold to personalise the customer experience
- Around 70 per cent of organisations are typically not collecting meaningful data to personalise digital experiences. For example, only a quarter (25 per cent) are analysing previous transactions, and only a fifth are using CRM data
- Only 10 per cent can use online and offline analytics to personalise the digital experience in real time
- Only 16 per cent are currently prioritising customer experience over internal product and sales targets.
Artificial Intelligence in reality
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The report also found that a majority (69 per cent) of respondents are planning to enhance their customer experience by implementing AI within the next three years, and a significant minority (14 per cent) already have an AI programme in place for this.
In practice, cognitive engines and machine learning are the most common types of AI. Over a third (35 per cent) of respondents are using or plan to use cognitive engines to create chatbot-style solutions that provide human-like interactions, while 28 per cent of companies use or plan to use machine learning to automate analytical insight.
More companies are leveraging the power of AI to analyse massive volumes and types of data in seconds, and augment customer experiences with convincingly human-like communication. Increasingly, AI will be a powerful asset to help build meaningful relationships between individuals and companies.
GDPR – a fine balance
Most companies are planning to collect less customer data as a direct result of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Information about customers’ physical location and personal contact details will both see an eight per cent drop, with basic demographic information and web browsing behaviour close behind at six and seven per cent respectively. That will impact companies’ ability to effectively understand their customers as individuals and tailor their offerings as a result.
GDPR presents an opportunity to improve data hygiene as companies reduce their data collection habits, which could benefit the customer in the long term. Nevertheless, companies will have to balance the need to ease GDPR compliance by collecting less customer information with the need to maintain enough data to enable effective customer analytics.
The research report ‘Darkness of Digital Shadows’ is based on a survey of 350 heads of marketing, customer service and experience, digital and data for their perspectives on how they personalise their customer experience using analytics, AI and segmentation. The respondents were split equally between the energy, government, insurance, media, retail, telecoms and retail banking sectors.
5 steps for SMEs to budget properly for the coming year
By Fabio Comminot, Head of Dealing, Switzerland at Ebury, one of Europe’s largest Fintechs, has provided a five-step guide to make sure budgeting is done on time.
During the challenging times of COVID-19, it is difficult to forecast orders and costs. This is especially true for SMEs that operate internationally and therefore are exposed to currency fluctuations and market movements. So budgeting is immensely important.
Autumn is budget season for most companies. Upcoming project costs, sales and fixed costs must be defined or forecasted. Budget planning should be as accurate as possible right from the start of the process to avoid unexpected consequences at the end of the year..
With the effects of the COVID pandemic it has become difficult for all companies, no matter their size or history, to plan and make sales forecasts. Early planning and hedging are especially important for companies that work internationally and are therefore particularly exposed to currency risk.
These five steps will help SMEs take the right measures for the coming financial year, in time for budget season:
Step 1: Estimate your costs or sales in foreign currencies
As difficult as it may seem, every company must estimate its expected fixed and variable costs for the coming year. Most companies can forecast their revenues based on experience or existing orders.
However, start-ups or young companies should also be able to at least estimate their costs including rents, insurance, wages and production costs. Special attention should be paid to costs or revenues that are spent or received in a foreign currency.
Step 2: Profit or cost assurance – define the strategy
As soon as an approximate plan for the coming year is in place, the company should consider the importance of currency management. Regular earnings or expenditures in foreign currencies are exposed to movements in exchange rates. If costs in a foreign currency are to be forecasted until the end of the year, the company needs to minimise volatility. This means that the exchange rate should be fixed so that there are no unexpected negative consequences at the end of the year.
Another option would be to protect the operating profit. Fluctuating exchange rates can rapidly ruin intended profit margins. In this case the company could aim to define the forecasted sales in the foreign currency and fix the margin based on this.
Step 3: Fix your budget rates
The budget is set, the currency management goals are defined, the major part is done. Now it is a matter of defining the budgeted rates for the various currencies based on the current exchange rate. A buffer of about 5% can be useful when doing this – for example. instead of fixing the exchange rate from US dollar to Swiss franc at the current 91 cent, a rate of 95 cent could be budgeted. In this way, the minimum budget rate is defined and any negative exchange rate movement can be at least partially compensated for.
Step 4: Define the hedging strategy
With the targets and the budget course set, the next questions are: What currency developments can be expected? What is the industry outlook? Is the order situation relatively secure? Or is there practically no empirical data?
This step is where Ebury can support the company. Our experts in FX markets help answer these questions and begin to define the individual hedging strategy.
Step 5: Ensure a flexible fit
It’s done: the measures have been defined, now it’s time for implementation.
Ebury will implement the previous steps and , so that the company focuses on its core business. In contrast to traditional financial services providers such as banks, Ebury constantly monitors international trade and political events in order to assist clients with strategy adjustments. The Ebury team is supported by state-of-the-art technology and international currency analysts. It makes no difference whether the changes are driven by the currency market or whether the company’s order situation itself is changing. This allows the SME to focus on its operational business, which is worth a lot in uncertain times like these.
Nearly 14 Million1 UK adults more likely to spend on Black Friday than they were last year
Yolt launches evolved app to help shoppers save whilst they spend
- Across the UK, consumers are set to spend £6.4bn on discount days
- Despite the pandemic, 1 in 5 stated they would see an increase in their spending on Christmas this year, revealing they will be likely to spend £240 more than they spent last year
- Yolt today launches a brand-new evolution of the smart money app, which aims to help people save whilst they spend, saving a minimum of £416 a year
- To help people spend smarter this Black Friday, the smart money app Yolt has a host of new features including round up functionality, and cashback offers with a wide range of retailers including John Lewis, Argos, Asos and Domino’s
New research* from Yolt, the award-winning smart money app, reveals that over a quarter (26%) of UK adults have said they are more likely to wait for discount days, such as Black Friday, to do their Christmas shopping than they were last year. In response to the pandemic and to help people shop smartly in the run up to the festive period, Yolt has launched a brand-new evolution of its app designed to help users to save whilst they spend. New features include the Yolt account and virtual Money Jar, as well as new cashback partnerships with the likes of John Lewis, Argos, Asos and Domino’s. The evolved smart money app can be used to save shoppers a minimum of £416** a year.
Despite the challenging economic climate, Yolt’s data insights from the first lockdown period in the UK showed that there were increases of up to 355% on spending in categories such as groceries, online clothing retailers, takeaways, and streaming and gaming services. On top of this, Yolt’s data revealed a change in consumers’ financial priorities – with many attempting to save in lockdown, but 65% not being successful in doing so. Therefore, to enable people to find the right balance in their efforts to save for any uncertainty that lies ahead, but also enjoy discount days such as Black Friday and festivities in the run up to Christmas, Yolt has launched a host of new features uniquely designed to help people save whilst they spend.
The evolved app comes at a time of challenging economic conditions, where more UK consumers are actively seeking discounts to try and balance the books this Christmas. Yolt’s research found that consumers across the UK spend an average £6.4bn on discount days such as Black Friday.
In total, over a third (35%) of UK adults said they would be looking to take advantage of upcoming discount days, with nearly one in five (18%) stating they do all their shopping for Christmas and birthdays on discount days and during sales. UK consumers said they tend to spend over £120 on days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and surprisingly almost one in five (19%) state they will actually see an increase in their spending on Christmas this year, verses last year. Those expecting an increase revealed they will likely spend an average of £240 more on this Christmas when compared to last year.
Concerns around affording Christmas are perhaps leading more people to take advantage of Black Friday deals than in previous years. Almost four in ten (37%) don’t tend to set savings aside for Christmas, and almost a quarter (23%) said they are going to have to dip into savings that weren’t allocated for Christmas this year. Finding the right balance between spending and saving for future uncertainty is going to be an increasing challenge for people during the festive period.
Pauline van Brakel, Chief Product Officer at Yolt, comments: “Given the incredibly challenging times we are facing this year as a result of the pandemic; it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that people are more likely to wait until popular discount days such as Black Friday to help them to spend smart over the festive period. Savvy spending in the run up to Christmas is always a good idea, and discount days can help ease what is for many a very expensive time of year – having said that, people should try not to overspend and risk getting themselves into debt.”
Pauline continues: “Finding the balance between spending and saving isn’t easy. And whilst it might seem like a difficult time to save right now it is also perhaps more important than ever. We’ve launched an evolved version of the Yolt app to help people save whilst they spend. The app enables people to spend smart by earning them cashback on their purchases at selected retailers and rounding purchases up to the nearest pound. Encouraging users to save is central to the app, not only by spending smartly but also by finding them competitive deals on their household bills and even spotting Christmas bonuses or refunds and prompting users to add them to their virtual savings jar.”
The new Yolt app is available from today, with full access to all UK users on iOS. Android will follow in 2021.
Christmas isn’t cancelled: European shoppers plan to spend more online this Black Friday
- Half (52%) of European consumers plan to do Christmas shopping around holiday sales, including Black Friday, compared to previous years
- 60% say they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online
- A third (34%) plan on leaving their Christmas shopping until the last minute in hope of securing bigger discounts
As Black Friday approaches, European consumers are not going to let a turbulent year spoil their Christmas. As shoppers continue to adapt to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are getting even savvier with their spending. New research from Kaspersky has found half (52%) plan to do more Christmas shopping around sales or shopping holidays, including Black Friday, compared to previous years. What’s more, a third (34%) plan on leaving it until the last minute in the hope of securing bigger discounts.
In a bid to enjoy Christmas while also adhering to COVID-19 social distancing measures, European consumers are focusing their attention away from physical stores to find their gifts. In fact, three-in-five (60%) say they are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping online. A fifth (20%) go as far as saying they will make all of their festive purchases online this year, despite not usually doing so.
With online sales set to rise, Kaspersky’s findings also indicate that most consumers are not expected to scale back on their Christmas spending – despite economic recessions across the continent. Only a quarter (26%) of consumers are planning to reduce their Christmas shopping budget this year by at least a third or more due to financial restrictions caused by COVID-19. However, this figure rises to 30% amongst 25 to 34-year-olds, the age group most widely affected by pandemic-related job cuts.
Yet, as the number of consumers bargain hunting online rises, so does the amount of risks being taken to secure big savings. Only 16% are not willing to exchange their personal data for online discounts – despite the potential of falling victim to fraudulent websites and sales scams.
“The festive period is always a big deal, and never more so than this year, as people seek to redress some of the chaos the pandemic has caused throughout 2020. It stands to reason that people are looking to do the majority of their sale shopping online in a bid to stay safe, as well as grab a bargain. But we must also consider that where the crowds go, the criminals follow. Just as pickpockets flock to crowded areas hoping to get lucky, cybercriminals will be looking at consumer shopping trends and trying to exploit people’s eagerness to grab a bargain and save some money. So, my advice would be that people do their research, follow some basic common sense measures when shopping and avoid getting swept up in the tidal wave of hype as we seek to remedy 2020 with a happy festive season. One thing to always bear in mind is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky warns bargain hunters to remain wary of potential Black Friday and festive season sales scams. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Shop online with confidence this Christmas by following our advice on avoiding retail scams:
- Only shop with legitimate online stores. It’s always safer to type in the address yourself, or select it from your bookmarks, rather than clicking on a link. Use your browser address bar to check if the website you are visiting is genuine and secure and that they carry the padlock or HTTPS
- Complete purchases through secure payment methods. Pay with credit cards or robust payment services so that transactions remain protected
- Verify discounts. If you receive a sales discount via email or text, check the sender and any web links are legitimate before you click
- Keep your device software and applications up-to-date and protect all your devices with a reputable internet security product. Cybersecurity solutions with behaviour-based anti-phishing technologies, such as Kaspersky Total Security, can send your notifications if you are trying to visit a phishing web page
- Manage your passwords. Password managers can help you shop with multiple retailers by safely storing your credentials, so they are unique for all of your online accounts
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