If your flight gets cancelled or you are bumped, an airline will typically offer you a few thousand frequent flier miles. This is a nice gesture, but an intangible benefit that won’t become anything useful for months — or years — down the line never really satisfies the customer. But what if the airline knew more about the person and could offer a form of compensation that would turn a disappointing interaction with the company into a memorable, positive event?
Such forward-thinking problem solving is the motivation behind Dell Services recent partnership with Geofeedia, a Chicago-based company that tracks social profiles of people and allows customer service reps to come into a customer call equipped with info about the person, including a granular knowledge of exactly where they are located.
If an airline knows you love golf — something that many people make clear on their Twitter or Facebook profile — it can offer a free round of 18 at a local course. For some, that won’t make up for a flight delay. But for others, particularly in an era when all consumers understand cancellations are a part of travel and not solely the fault of this airline, it will be a blessing. Few travelers get a guilt-free day to head out to the links, so a cancelation — plus a bit of new-age problem solving by the airline — could even end up being a positive outcome.
“That is how organizations will be able to differentiate: With contextualized offers,” said Raman Sapra, executive director and global head of digital business services for Dell Services, which is in the midst of an acquisition by NTT Data. “If I travel like crazy, giving me 5,000 or 10,000 miles may make me happy — but it will not make me a delighted customer.”
Staples, the Red Cross, and Spectrum Health are among the clients that Sapra and Dell Services has worked with on enhanced social media insight. For the Red Cross, having geolocation data about where social media postings during a disaster can be the difference between life and death, allowing them to locate and identify areas where help is most needed.
“Intelligence garnered from location-based data can help our clients better understand their customers and markets, and pinpoint specific opportunities to put that information into action,” said Sapra. “Leveraging social analytics should be considered an overall strategy, not just a campaign.”
Some companies are trying to track a customer’s location down to the store-level. With monitoring, they may be able to see that you are in an electronics store and reach out to you with a time-sensitive offer and for a discount on a laptop. “Companies are experimenting with it,” said Sapra. “Companies are trying to figure out how it can work to understand their customers better and sell to their customers better.”
The company also completed a proof or concept for a large life insurance company that highlights the sales potential of social media tracking. Normally, their CRM would never know when a customer gets married or has a child. Such data would never be updated into to system unless the insured calls the company to tell then directly. But by monitoring a person’s social profile, such major life changes would be obvious and a representative could call the person to congratulate them and ask if they want to include a new person on their plan. “At that time, your desire to enhance your coverage is at the maximum,” said Sapra.
For the older generation, this can sound a bit creepy. The info is public, so it doesn’t come down to privacy concerns as much as a general uneasiness with being watched. But most people in younger generations — the future customers — will happily give over all their personal info and even prefer to interact with companies this way. Aligning themselves with specific brands is often part of their identity. “Their openness of sharing information is a lot more than us — as long as they see the benefit,” said Sapra.
You also reach new customers. There are large segments of the population who never see mailers to their house. Others don’t check their email for coupons. But one company Dell works with found that these people did want discounts and that they respond well to location-based offers. They just needed to be approached in the way that they prefer to engage with brands: through social media. And as social media continues to rise — especially among users in Latin America — early adopters of this customer experience trend stand to benefit the most.
“The key thing is more and more contextualized service, more and more personalized service,” said Sapra. “And that can only be provided if you understand the customer a lot better.”