Friday, 16 May 2014

Big data? It's the little things that count

There's much talk about 'big data' with its potential to better understand customer behaviour and tailor service and offerings appropriately. Great idea, but I can't help thinking that organisations would do well to master the 'small data' they have at present.

I've been a member of a well-known airline's frequent flyer programme for many years. In theory, they know a great deal about me and continue to gather data based upon my travel patterns, locations and preferences. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how they continue to get it wrong:

  • I flew to Glasgow on business earlier this week.  En route to the airport, I received a text asking me to rate the service I had received at the airport that morning - some two hours before my flight.
  • On the same day, my return flight was delayed by over an hour. I knew this in advance because I took the trouble to check. Did I receive a text alerting me? No.
  • I receive at least one promotional email a week encouraging me to book my next flight or take advantage of a time-limited sale.  Often the offers are for flights that I cannot possibly take.  Why? Because I already have a flight booked during the relevant period. Don't they know this?
  • One such email encouraged me to take advantage of a discount on flights to the US. This was just a few days after I had booked a flight to the US at the full price. Ouch!
  • They have made of point of asking for and recording my seat preference - window or aisle - yet consistently allocate the wrong seat on check-in
It's often the small things that count in customer service. These small irritations are missed opportunities to impress.  It's a pity that with all the data this organisation has, it consistently fails to think things through effectively.