Leveraging analytics within the operations of your business seems like the next natural step for customer intelligence. Taking analytics out of the back office and automating tactical decision-making should help drive a positive experience for both the organization and the customer.

However, embedding analytics within the customer experience is strategically and technically complex. Integrating the information and deriving the insight to serve in real time creates new challenges for the technical infrastructure. Possibly even more painstaking is defining the right situation, model and vehicle to deliver analytics in order to make an impact on the customer experience. Several challenges seem extremely ominous, especially those around loyalty. How do you reward customers when their consumption is inversely proportional to your company's profit? How can you generate loyalty if you have nothing to offer?

The credit card business model is the most classic case where the intuitive behavior that you think would drive company profits is not the case. People who use credit cards quite often do drive fees. If those heavy users pay off their debt, though, they do not generate nearly the profits of those living with finance charges.

So, your largest users are not your most valuable. It seems that new pricing and business models continue to spring up that have this reverse relationship to consumption and profits. Netflix and other movie subscription services are a good example. At $20 a month, it can't be good if a family watches and returns three movies each weekend. I am sure it would be much better for the company if the family watched fewer movies during a longer time period.

Other "all you can eat" subscription businesses are concerned about the same phenomenon. Whether it's new flat-fee long distance services or music downloads, companies are betting against more consumption. All the while, customers are frustrated that their loyalty and abundant use of the service does not earn them additional services. Why am I not first on the list to receive new movies? Why do I get the same "short wait" message as everyone else?

The answer is in the data, and companies will need to dig to find out how to reward engagement in their product as well as profitable customers. The competitor that figures this out will steal the customer through a superior experience.

Other organizations face the consequences of possibly having nothing that the customer values to provide as a reward. When the customer perception is that the rewards do not provide a financial return, his or her engagement in a loyalty program or the organization as a whole is less enthusiastic.

This fact is most true with financial services organizations. If you are loyal to your investment services company for years, you are probably generally getting the return on your money. But couldn't you get that at many places?

Think about banks. There does not seem to be a reward for having multiple accounts - money market, business, consumer, checking, savings or home equity. Though my bank tells me that they waive certain fees (for American Express traveler checks), those savings are not enough or I don't utilize them often enough to get excited.

Because your brokerage organization will not guarantee a certain return or not charge fees if they don't meet certain expectations and your bank can't give you more money and does not have any other service in its arsenal that it can provide for free, the customer is underwhelmed.

As always, the answer lies within your data. It is buried in the transaction history but more likely is buried in customer service notes, sales force automation comments and customer feedback surveys. New text mining tools help you find the hidden messages and trends in your unstructured information. By combining the voice of the customer with value-based models, innovative organizations are developing products and services that drive loyalty.

For industries that have not figured out sustainable reward programs or do not have valuable currency such as media, subscription-based businesses and financial services, huge opportunities exist to steal market share.

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