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In order to strengthen customer loyalty retailers should rely more on analytics

The quality of your customer data can prove to be just as important as your products

Not long ago I wrote about my Saturday shopping experience in relation to Amazon opening its first supermarket without check-outs. Today it is my supermarket of choice that has led me to reach for my pen – perhaps this could slowly develop into a habit.

While I was quite euphoric about Amazon becoming the future of the POS retailer, today’s anecdote is on the contrary tempered with a good deal of frustration. After many years as a loyal customer at my favourite supermarket I have come to prefer their competitor – so how and why did that happen?

It all began with an e-mail. My preferred supermarket told me that their payment app was going to be changed. Not really a big deal; however, I would have to register again. Of course, those in charge of the supermarket chain weren’t happy about this hassle either, but unfortunately it was unavoidable, due to data protection issues. On the bright side, the registration process was supposed to become faster and easier now.

Because I really enjoy using the app, especially for small purchases, I registered again.  I instantly got an error message informing me that the registration was not possible at that time.

Due to the lack of a meaningful explanation to the error in the registration process I contacted customer services, who however, were unable to help me.  And what is worse: I received one of these standard e-mails which consumers get when they are declined due to scoring. Everything was kept nice and impersonal – which I welcomed in this case, as the communication is online and my identity had not been adequately verified to allow me to be provided with more details.

I was not so concerned with the details at this stage. When I first downloaded the app a few years ago I was also irritated by the sign-up process, but during the years I have built up a good payment record with the retailer, so we actually know each other quite well.

Due to my long lasting relationship with the retailer I still had some optimism when I approached the responsible person named in the imprint, and expected to be contacted by the relevant department. Imagine my disappointment when to this day I have still not had any response to my e-mail.

This specific supermarket chain employs independent entrepreneurs on site and is an excellent representative of its kind to me, and for that reason I have continued to do my shopping with them on occasions. Even if the chain no longer seem to value me as a customer – with the right and safe means of payment, I’m still allowed to shop there.

It really annoys me when companies so unnecessarily alienate their customers. Just the simplest data analysis, or even a basic rule, could have improved this situation: If it concerns an existing customer without payment disruptions, this of course continues to be served. There is really no need for any advanced analysis technology.

Had the supermarket chain made a proper analysis, I might even have emerged from the whole story with a completely different outcome. For the trouble of re-registering it would have been nice to have been offered a coupon for my favorite wine, or even that special canned food that I buy on a regular basis. That would have been a prime example of how to use advanced analytics to retain customers.

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