I won't name names, but a speaker from a large, well-regarded retailer was talking about the benefits of segmentation at today's Customer Relationship Marketing Conference in Chicago. Nothing unusual about that. Marketers and analytical service providers all agree that customer segmentation is a foundational best practice within our industry. And I agree with the speaker's observation that too many segmentation strategies have limited value because they don't account for attitudinal and behavioral data, especially anecdotal data that comes from talking to customers in the store.
But I got pretty riled by the speaker's opinion that his company was successful in applying segmentation to his business. Sure, his marketing team uses it. But what about the rest of his organization? Why doesn't his company (and many other retailers out there) take a broader view of the potential for what customer segmentation can do to help grow a profitable, efficient, customer-focused business.
As a passionate believer in the enterprise-wide value of customer segmentation, I want to ask him:
- Have you aligned your marketing team around your segments, assigning specialists to handle the issues that are exclusive to those segments?
- Don't stop with marketing... do you have segment specialists within your merchant organization, store ops, customer service, etc.?
- Do your stores recognize customers by what segments they are in and by what value they bring to your business?
- Is your assortment driven in part by your segments at the local level?
My opinion is: if retailers are preaching customer-centricity, then they should show it by re-aligning their organizations on the basis of viable customer segmentation strategies. Frankly, I don't see anyone doing this. You might make a case for Best Buy, but even there, I believe that a lot of their customer segmentation did not penetrate the organization. (You could even argue they were "talking it up" just to have a point of difference for Wall Street to consider.)
Am I crazy, or are you just as ticked that retailers don't get the impact that customer segmentation might have on their businesses?
Check out how SONY decided to reorganize by customer segments to enable the company to target products and services according to customers' lifestages, preferences and needs. Please see page 20 of the following IBM Business Consulting Services case study and paper...
Customer Communications Group