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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog


Using Data Mining to Pinpoint What Customers Really Want

One of the greatest strengths of data mining is its ability to provide companies with revealing and compelling insights into the needs and preferences of their customers.

This includes information that customers share about themselves in social media channels, in contact center interactions, and through their online behaviors.

target audience 150x150 Using Data Mining to Pinpoint What Customers Really WantThrough the sentiments they share and the actions they take, customers convey the types of products they’re interested in as well as the services, processes, and policies used by companies that delight or infuriate them.

As Liana Evans says in recent blog, customers reveal a great deal about their interests and their likes and dislikes through comments shared each day on Facebook alone. “When we hear one suggestion over and over again, we know we have to take the next step . . . ,” adds Evans.

Of course, there are numerous ways to identify and act on the information that customers are sharing across multiple channels beyond Facebook. For instance, web mining allows retailers and other types of companies to detect patterns in online customer behaviors. As wiseGEEK notes, structure mining examines how customers are using web sites, including the types of pages they’re visiting and the information being sought.

Meanwhile, data mining can reveal buying patterns or correlations between customer behaviors. For example, an online media company may determine that consumers who buy video games that require users to solve puzzles or navigate mazes are more likely to also purchase science fiction books.

The online media company can use these insights to create offers that are crafted for this customer set. It’s an approach that’s akin to’s recommendation engine where the company recommends books and music based on customers’ previous purchases, items they’ve rated and liked, and what other customers have viewed and purchased.

Customers don’t always tell us everything they want. They also don’t necessarily envision products and services that don’t already exist, as Forrester Research’s Kerry Bodine notes. Still, customers do share a great deal about their wishes and preferences with product and service features that companies can decipher through the use of analytics tools.

For instance, executives may discover that customers who call into the contact center may be repeating a request for a new feature that’s aimed at making a product easier to use (consider customers of a fast-food restaurant chain who ask for a spill-proof ketchup container for dipping their French fries). Companies can glean these types of insights through the use of speech, text, and sentiment analytics. It’s an incredibly powerful way to identify customer opportunities ahead of the competition.

Of course, there are myriad ways to learn more about your customers and act on these insights. For example, analyze the purchasing or online behaviors of your target customers. Are they exhibiting any patterns? Also, discern what matters most to your customers by asking them through surveys and using other feedback techniques.

You may believe that quality is their top concern but a deeper dive may reveal that they are primarily cost-conscious. Obtaining these types of insights can lead executives to make the right decisions about customer strategy.

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One Comment


great blog as usual. The point about learning customer preferences via social media caught my eye. This has value but it’s still gheading what they care about. Analytics can give you more certain answers, by asking people, customers or employees directly.


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