Companies are becoming so obsessed with hiring accountants that they risk missing out on the golden nuggets of customer data that will really drive their businesses forward.
That is the damning verdict on the state of the customer data market but none other than former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, the man who never tires of telling people how he turned the supermarket from a pile ’em high sell it cheap store into the powerhouse it is today.
A regular on the conference circuit, Sir Terry told a gathering in London last week: “Dare I say it, we need a few less accountants and a few more data analysts.”
He maintains that most firms still struggle with data analysis simply because their bosses have been not educated in how to extract the right information from the data and are failing to ask the right questions from the stuff they already hold.
“Organisations have not kept pace. They’ve not changed to reflect the way we’ve come to know about customers, and so they don’t make their decisions where the data is,” he said. “They don’t ensure that the data comes into the boardroom and into the marketing committees so that they are actually making objective decisions based on data.
Returning to a well-worn theme, he said: “A loyal customer is the most valuable asset a business can have. By any level of profitability the highest return on investment is from the loyal customer. You don’t have to spend a fortune recruiting them, they stay, they are not that expensive to look after, they know how the whole thing works, they speak well of your staff and motivate them and they are the people who recruit new customers.”
And in yet another dig at his former employer, Leahy maintained that the great tragedy is that the majority of marketing pounds are wasted chasing “promiscuous customers” because in most organisations the best deals are offered to new shoppers. “The loyal customer is the one that is not looked after and that’s a great shame,” he said.
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