Next Best Action Using SAS

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1 WHITE PAPER Next Best Action Using SAS Customer Intelligence Clear the Clutter to Offer the Right Action at the Right Time

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary...1 Why Traditional Direct Marketing Is Not Enough...2 Cutting Through the Clutter...3 Why Next Best Action Now?...6 Keys to Successful Next Best Action...7 A Complete Picture of the Customer...7 Use of Predictive Analytics...7 Coordination of Channels...8 SAS Customer Intelligence for Next Best Action...9 Combined Power of Inbound and Outbound Next Best Action...10 Success Stories with SAS...11 Sprint (US) Telecommunications...11 Erste Bank (Austria) Banking...11 Conclusion...11 i

3 Executive Summary Many marketing organizations are shifting focus from traditional marketing methods that are primarily outbound in nature to new methods that also focus on marketing and sales in the inbound, interactive channels. One methodology that is becoming increasingly popular to enable inbound marketing is next best action. Next best action is a customer-centric marketing method that considers the alternative actions during a customer interaction and recommends the best one. It is an important form of marketing to complement outbound marketing efforts and improve the overall marketing performance. Next best action is effective because it is able to cut through clutter to reach customers. Using modern technology, it implements what is a traditional, but effective, marketing approach. Multiple factors can be the basis for the action to take: customer s interests, needs and significant events; as well as an organization s business goals and policies. This method enables businesses to better fulfill each customer s current needs, thereby increasing the likelihood of positive response to provided offers. This white paper describes the advantages of next best action and techniques for effective implementation using SAS Customer Intelligence. SAS Customer Intelligence solutions enable companies to implement next best actions effectively, especially in coordinating the actions across multiple channels. 1

4 Why Traditional Direct Marketing Is Not Enough Traditional direct marketing using outbound communications such as direct mail, calling lists and is a powerful tool in reaching customers. It allows organizations to take advantage of their customer knowledge, and with relatively low costs, send out a communication about products or services. As a result, however, thousands of outbound messages bombard customers every day phone calls, physical mail, or online ads. Some examples of the marketing volume that a typical person is subject to are: The number of marketers who report sending more than 3 million pieces of each month has grown from 20 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in The number of permission marketing messages these consumers receive to their primary personal inboxes each year will soar from slightly more than 3,700 in 2009 to 5,031 in billion pieces of direct mail were sent in the US in These messages annoy many customers: Only 14 percent of US consumers agree that the ads they see are relevant to their wants and needs, and even fewer agree that the direct mail (10 percent) and marketing (7 percent) that they receive is relevant. 3 Two-thirds of US consumers say there is too much advertising today. Sixty-two percent say they get too much direct mail, 66 percent say they get too much marketing and 67 percent say they get too much telemarketing. 4 Research conducted by UK-based service provider, center, has found that seven out of 10 consumers wish to stop receiving from a company because the messages contain no relevant content. Relevant offers and promotions are the key factors in encouraging consumers to respond to an message. It appears, however, that few marketers realize this, because 65 percent of consumers believe that three out of every four messages in their inbox are not of interest to them. 5 1 David Daniels, The ROI Of Relevance, 2009: New Rules To Improve The Bottom Line (Forrester, Sept. 16, 2009) 2 Jonathan Margulies, Outlook 2010: The Future of Direct Mail in a Changing Marketplace, a presentation (Winterberry Group, January 2010) 3 Dave Frankland, Marketers: Stop The Abuse! - Adopt Preference Management (Forrester, July 22, 2009) 4 Frankland 5 Sean Duffy, Consumers View on Marketing 2009 Relevance is the Key ( center) 2

5 Figure 1: From Consumer Views on Marketing Relevance is the Key, center, 2009 Given this situation, customer-facing businesses are seeking new approaches to differentiate themselves from the pack and drive higher ROI. Cutting Through the Clutter One approach to consider is to provide a higher level of experience to customers. Communications that are more meaningful can deliver this higher level of experience. With an improved customer experience, customer loyalty to a business, as well as likelihood to purchase additional products, improves significantly. According to survey research, this correlation between customer experience and a willingness to make future purchases remains strong regardless of what is being offered financial services, insurance, cable and Internet services, merchandise, etc. 6 How can this insight be used to communicate more effectively with customers? One of the best ways to provide customers with meaningful communication is by taking the data about them and using analytics to develop insight that enhances targeting of communications. By using analytics, an organization can gain further insight about customers, thereby enabling finer segmentation. Segmentation enables the development of more meaningful communications. Event-based marketing is one method that uses analytics to assign segments to customers. Event-based marketing identifies customer events that are key milestones to a customer. These key events can take several forms: Youth Early Career Marriage Birth Mid/Late Career Retirement 6 Bruce Temkin, Customer Experience Journey (Forrester, 2008) 3

6 Major life changes getting married, having a child, buying a house, moving, changing a job or retiring. While most of these events are easy to identify, the goal is to identify them as early as possible to influence purchases associated with the change. Interaction with an organization purchase of products or services, a call to express dissatisfaction with products or services, or additional purchases of products or services. Traditionally, this was a linear process that was easy to track as a customer moved from one step to another. Identify key events or steps in a firm s relationship with a customer Interest in product Browse for information Purchase Product Additional Purchases Lapsed Customer With fragmentation of media and proliferation of product and service choices, the process is often now more complex and more cyclic and harder to track as a customer uses various media and opinion influencers to make purchase decisions. As a result, it is even more critical to identify critical decision points for customers. The consumer decision journey, mckinseyquarterly.com, June

7 Environmental or market changes. Change in external conditions that can have an impact on a customer might include: - Change in interest rate. - Change in product price. - Change in product inventory. - New product introduction. - Competitor product introduction. These events are opportunities to either target a customer with a message that has strong appeal (for example, a special mortgage offer when they are shopping for a house), or an opportunity to proactively influence a customer s future behavior (for example, sending a special retention offer when a customer is thinking about switching to a competitor). Analytics enables an organization to mine customer data to identify markers of these events and to send targeted, meaningful communications. Also, the use of analytics enables the identification of complex events that may have previously been difficult or impossible to identify. These complex events can be a combination of events, such as those leading to the attrition of a banking customer inferred from the withdrawal of large amounts of money from an account followed by a call to check the account balance. A situational change to a customer s behavior, such as an increased usage of cell phone minutes compared to the average minutes used for the previous six months, can be the basis for a complex event. What type of communication should the customer receive once there is an identified customer event? One key point to consider is the relevancy of the communication. To ensure a relevant communication, an organization must take into account all knowledge about the customer and use analytics to segment that customer. These factors may also be used not only to select the best message to send the customer, but also to prioritize messages. As a result, messages are more meaningful to customers and have a higher chance of capturing the customer s attention. This tailored marketing approach is the hallmark of next best action. 5

8 Why Next Best Action Now? Next best action is not a new concept. It is a fundamental marketing approach to understanding customers and using the knowledge to anticipate their needs. Businesses and merchants have been successful with this approach for years; especially more mature businesses. What has changed is the reason for conducting such marketing, the ability to market more effectively with a large number of customers and the ability to measure its effectiveness. In the past, understanding each customer s needs required a person to manually track information about the customer. When the number of customers is small as with the traditional corner store, an accountant who prepares taxes for her clients or a local barber this can be done fairly easily just by communicating and working with each customer. While this approach was also possible for a larger number of customers, it was often limited to businesses that could absorb the high cost and resource requirements, such as high-end hotels and resorts. Technology advancement is driving the ability to implement a next best action strategy with a large number of customers without significantly increasing headcount or spending inordinate amounts of money on each customer. With the prevalent use of point of sale (POS), call center systems, enterprise systems and Internet applications, organizations are able to collect more data about customers than ever before. With the low cost of data storage, most organizations can keep and maintain this data to provide a rich history for each customer. With point of contact systems, organizations can identify customers while the interaction is taking place and collect up-to-date information to augment existing data. Companies can now treat each customer as an individual, while actually improving productivity by quickly using all relevant data. 6

9 Keys to Successful Next Best Action While next best action can be a powerful marketing strategy, delivering relevant offers during customer interactions can still be difficult. Some of the difficulties relate to making a decision while interacting with a customer, while others relate to making the best decision to determine the relevant offer; however, both types of difficulties can be addressed if a few key points are considered when implementing a next best action strategy. A Complete Picture of the Customer A key to determining the next best action is having a complete picture of customers in terms of their profiles, needs and current behaviors. Having an incomplete picture of the customer may result in providing the wrong message to a customer, or even worse, missing an opportunity to communicate. Having a complete picture of the customer requires being able to collect data from all channels that customers use to interact with an organization. This not only means collecting the data about interaction with a customer in the inbound channel that is used to deliver the next best action, but also those interactions in the traditional outbound channels. It is important that this data is merged into a single source and available at the customer touch point to obtain meaningful insights. Use of Predictive Analytics While customer data provides the foundation to determine the next best action, it is only the beginning. Identifying the customer s current needs and status is valuable, but predicting the customer s future behavior and status is even more valuable. For example, while identifying that a customer is purchasing a camera is valuable in targeting a cross-sell offer, predicting that a customer will consider buying a camera days or weeks before is even more valuable because it gives the retailer more opportunity to influence the purchase. Predicting a customer s future actions and behavior is possible with the use of predictive analytics. Predictive analytics mine a customer s historical and transactional data to identify common behavior patterns before a certain event making a purchase, upgrading a service or leaving for a competitor. Based on these patterns, a predictive model can determine if the behavior matches those that would indicate a future purchase. One use of predictive analytics is a technique called predictive scoring for such things as customer value, risk and profitability. 7

10 The values are calculated based on various factors associated with the customer, such as demographic information and transactional data (for example, recency/ frequency/monetary, or RFM, values of purchases from the past year). These values can segment the customer, helping you select the right offer for next best action. Another use of predictive analytics is a technique called association analysis. Association analysis compares customer activities such as purchases, membership or pages viewed on a Web page. The resulting assigned segments identify which set of activities are often associated with a goal, such as purchasing a specific product. A common type of association analysis is market basket analysis, where a customer s purchases are analyzed to determine which products are often purchased together. Next, the customer s activities are compared to these segments to determine the next best action. Coordination of Channels While next best action is often closely associated with inbound channels, it is also appropriate for outbound channels. Determination of next best action for outbound channels is possible, especially with a unified data mart that has access to customer data captured by inbound channels. With this type of customer information, next best action for outbound channels can be just as effective, especially if the communication is specific and timely for a customer s needs and status. One area of caution when conducting next best action for both inbound and outbound channels is the coordination of the communications. If the communications via the various channels are not coordinated, each could deliver contradictory communications. Even if the next best action selected by each channel is the best for that channel, they may select different actions that in the worst case are contradictory, causing customer confusion and poor customer experience. As a result, the processes that determine the next best action for each channel need to take into account the communication by the other channels and maintain consistency by adjusting the next best action as needed. 8

11 SAS Customer Intelligence for Next Best Action SAS Customer Intelligence solutions provide the most comprehensive platform for implementing next best action. The solution suite provides the ability to make the type of decisions required for next best action, both for inbound and outbound channels. In addition, SAS provides a comprehensive platform for predictive analytics and coordinated, multichannel communications that are required for successful implementations of next best action. Through the use of two solutions, SAS Real-Time Decision Manager and SAS Marketing Automation, SAS provides the ability to: Implement event-based marketing to identify customer events based on various sources of data. Perform predictive analytics, such as market basket analysis, to proactively identify customers that are ready for certain offers and communications. Deliver the appropriate communication to the customer at the right time, via the right channel. Inbound Next Best Action Customer Real-time interaction Inbound Channels Existing Warehouse, Billing, Source and External Data Back Office Operational Systems Receive transaction data, return real-time offers SAS Real-Time Decision Manager SAS Real-Time Decision Manager helps organizations create, modify and manage inbound marketing campaigns. It has the ability to identify an event for inbound marketing based on real-time data captured during a Web, call center or POS interaction. This data is sent to SAS Real-Time Decision Manager, which determines the next best action. SAS Real-Time Decision Manager can determine the next best action with a series of actions, such as getting more data about the customer or running predictive models in real time. Once the best action is determined, it will return an appropriate inbound communication delivered to the customer via Web site, call center or POS during the current interaction. 9

12 Outbound Next Best Action Customer Outbound Channels POS Web Call center SAS Digital Marketing Deliver offers via , SMS, MMS and WAP Contact lists for mailings SAS Marketing Optimization Optimize based on contact policy and communication profitability Optimize outbound campaigns SAS Marketing Automation Existing Warehouse, Billing, Source and External Data SAS Marketing Automation helps organizations create, modify and manage outbound marketing campaigns. It can analyze historical customer data, changes in a customer s profile and identify events based on single or multiple actions. Once a group of customers has been identified, it can assign customers to the appropriate next best actions that are sent out as an outbound communication via POS, Web or Call center. Combined Power of Inbound and Outbound Next Best Action Although each solution is powerful, being part of the SAS Customer Intelligence suite enhances the capabilities of each. SAS Real-Time Decision Manager and SAS Marketing Automation share the same design and administration clients, which reduces the costs associated with training and maintaining multiple clients. They also share a common reporting model that captures results of customer interactions based on a common contact and response history. The history directs the next best actions across multiple channels and also directs next best action campaigns in a unified manner, whether inbound or outbound. 10

13 Success Stories with SAS Here are a few success stories of organizations that have implemented next best action using SAS solutions and technology: Sprint (US) Telecommunications Sprint s goal was to have every customer touch point make the next best offer to the customer while eliminating interactions perceived as nuisances. According to Sprint, the group responsible for these analytics using SAS has delivered more than $1 billion of enterprise value and $500 million in revenue by reducing customer churn, getting customers to buy more and improving satisfaction rates. Erste Bank (Austria) Banking Erste Bank s CRM strategy includes a next best product strategy as a basis for personalized offers in its service (phone) centers and through other avenues (Internet portal, etc.). With the use of SAS, it was able to achieve the following: High hit rate: Up to 95 percent of all buyers have the right predicted product for next best product. High performance: Purchases for the suggested next best product are up to 16 times above average. Conclusion It is important for organizations to consider next best action to cut through the clutter of various marketing communications to reach customers. It takes into account a customer s current needs and from a set of possible offers, chooses the best one via inbound or outbound channels. Modern systems and technologies provide all organizations with the ability to implement next best actions, both in terms of identifying key events regarding the customer and delivering the communication at the right time through the right channel. SAS Customer Intelligence is a great marketing platform for next best action because it takes comprehensive customer data and applies predictive analytics to proactively determine the right actions, allowing you to coordinate marketing communications across multiple channels. 11

14 SAS Institute Inc. World Headquarters To contact your local SAS office, please visit: SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright 2010, SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved _S

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