Andrew Ng, Baidu’s former Chief Scientist(who also helmed Google’s deep learning project), recently gave a presentation, outlining the strong grip that data plays in the modern business landscape.
The idea is simple – data has terraformed the way in which businesses – big and small; no matter the industry – are run. So if you invest early on in a dataset no one else has, you can easily turn that into a positive feedback loop.
Current customer base > Get data > Make improvements based on data > Get more customers > Get more data > Make even better improvements > Get even more customers and so on.
Think of it as a word-of-mouth effect – and thus an extremely powerful strategy if you execute it right(and the devil is in the details), as demonstrated by Amazon’s meteoric rise in the land of e-commerce – in large part a byproduct of Amazon’s customer-centric ideals.
Anyone can build a company. But no one can build service like Amazon can.
Their weapon is data.
What we talk about when we talk about customer service
It’s been a long time since I heard anyone talk about the reason for good customer service. And I don’t mean the usual, oft-heard of “good customer service is good for business” garbage(though it’s well grounded in historical contexts and buried under mounds of statistical data).
I mean what unique advantage can good – nay, great – customer service consistently deliver to a business? The great divider that separates businesses living on the edge from businesses thriving beyond the edge. And then some.
Answer: Retentive customers – vaguely defined as those loyal souls who return consistently, absent the apocalypse(of course).
The feedback loop mentioned earlier goes something like this:
Deliver consistent great customer service > Get their attention > Learn from them > Keep delivering great customer service > Retain their attention > Keep learning > Still on the path of delivering great customer service > (Well, you get the idea)
Like anything worthwhile, it’s simpler written on a piece of paper than it is executing it.
You’re required to cast aside what you thought was just “acceptable, and commit wholly to serving an audience(not just selling and marketing to them) at a steep price over and over and over and over again.
In the eyes of many businesses, the effort far exceeds the return. So much so, that they won’t even make a faint attempt at it.
But then you observe the whole lot of businesses who have made the commitment. Who have made the strategic leap forward. And savored every bit of value from it.
Look at Amazon. Look at Apple. Look at Slack.
These are businesses who have kneeled at the customer’s altar.
It’s true that competition is so fierce. That the prospects out there are practically flooded with options. It’s also true that competing on the same level playing field, with little to differentiate yourself from the many, hardly seems like it’s making much headway into the consumer’s shorter attention span.
But although there seems to be less ammunition in the chamber, you can forge a weapon of your own making that’ll be able to pierce through all that metallic noise(competition).
If you try to do what everyone else is doing, you’re going to exist as a wisp among a cloud of smoke.
But if you try to do what no one else is doing, you’re seizing an opportunity.
Your business can be an impenetrable, immovable asset – or it can wear and tear alongside the other wooden houses.
Don’t just build a business. Build a fortress.
And it starts with data.