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.
On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future
By Natalie Thomas
LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.
Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.
“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”
Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.
Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.
From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.
While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.
Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.
“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.
($1 = 0.8218 euros)
(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery
BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.
Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.
COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.
“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.
Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.
Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.
“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.
In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.
Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.
Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.
($1 = 0.8187 euros)
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)
TRUiC Evaluates The Latest Additions to Registered Agents in the US
The US is still the top choice for new businesses that have a global focus. That is not to say that they are all physically located there. Despite the pandemic creating challenges for startups seeking investment, many are still steaming ahead. More and more, companies from Europe and Asia dominate Amazon and other distribution chains in the US via a US registered entity that relies on a registered agent. What should you know about registered agents?
When forming an LLC, there are a few additions to registered agent services in 2021 that could be extremely helpful to ensure that you always maintain your privacy, never miss important mail, and make you aware of legal obligations that may occur without being too costly or complicated. When you are launching a startup as an entrepreneur, it is vital to decide which registered agent service as they act as a point of contact between a business and a state and will greatly benefit your small business in the long-term.
In short, a registered agent will primarily act as your business’s main channel of communication with your states’ government. A non-profit, corporation or LLC can appoint a registered agent service to receive government correspondence, compliance documents on behalf of the business, and service of process – which is arguably the most important role of a registered agent as this informs an entity or individual of an impending lawsuit against him/her or the company.
Suggested video – What is a Registered Agent by TRUiC:
Next will be a review and comparison between the features of the best online business services of 2021 to see which is the top registered agent service when forming an LLC:
Assisting in the formation of over 800,000 businesses, partnerships with experienced legal professionals like Rocket Lawyer makes for a great option to serve as your registered agent service, all thanks to their 100% satisfaction guarantee. Although their services cost slightly more, they can still provide a full year for free if you subscribe to their Accelerate legal service plan for $49.95/month. Additional benefits include:
- The company is supported by Google Ventures
- Norton Web Security Protection & Information website
- Legal Services Pan which includes consultations with business attorneys
Classified as high-quality registered agent services and boasting over 150,000 customers served since 200, Incfile offers lower prices and a free subscription for one year with any incorporation filing purchase. They also provide their clients with a user -friendly website, that is protected by Norton Web Security, and free information available in their Learning Centre.
Northwest Registered Agent
If industry experience and premium customer support are important to you then the following might be the best service for you. Established in 1998, Northwest Registered Agent has made a name for themselves and is one of TRUiCs’ top picks as they are known to being the most friendly LLC service available. Not only do they provide the best email/phone support, but they also locally scan every document you receive, ensuring that you will never miss paperwork and eradicating surprises.
Whilst getting great customer support and a unique dashboard, Harbor Compliance’s registered agent services will also offer discounts to their customers who pay up-front for multiple years and service to those in multiple states. Plus:
- Website protection by Norton and Trustwave
- Free compliance guides and whitepapers
- Document delivery and scanning on the same day
After careful consideration of many other registered agent services, ZenBusiness has been rated best. This small business formation service was founded in 2015 by a team of entrepreneurs who cracked the code to the barriers that others continue to face today and help their respective clients launch their businesses successfully.
Not only will the start of your enterprise go smoothly, but they will also help you stay compliant with government laws, accept service of process and other tax and legal documents, and provide you with an overall peace-of-mind so you can focus all your time and energy on running your business.
Although LegalZoom is the costliest of these options, they had to be mentioned as this registered agent service has extensive experience and capabilities with an informative and North Secure Website and a broad range of business services. Boasting with a large platform of nearly 4 million customers, LegalZoom may be more convenient for you if you have other legal services operating through them as well.
Why should you designate a registered agent service for your business?
By appointing a suitable registered agent service you will be able to maintain your privacy, be alerted to legal obligations that may crop up without breaking the bank or complicating things, and these registered agent services will ensure that you never miss a beat when it comes to crucial paperwork and delivery of important documents. There really aren’t many downsides to working with an online registered agent service provider, and the penalties for not having a registered agent heavily outweigh the cost.
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