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Next best offers – the “new” old school

Short Takes...on Analytics

Posted by John Lucker, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

In a recent Harvard Business Review article* that I co-authored with Tom Davenport and Leandro Dalle Mulle, we considered the idea behind retailers developing strong strategies around “next best offers.” Gone are the days when a familiar salesperson could help you find just what you wanted – simply because she knew your preferences and tastes. And, most importantly, she could suggest additional items that you hadn’t even thought of. In today’s environment, consumers are constantly distracted by information and options, often struggling to find what they need.

With advances in information technology, data gathering and analytics, it is more possible than ever to replicate that all-knowing salesperson. Steering consumers to the “right” merchandise or services – at the right moment, at the right price, and in the right channel. That’s the “next best offer” at its most effective use.

In the article, we talk about the four steps toward effective “next best offers:” defining objectives; gathering data about customers, your offerings, and the context in which customers buy; using data analytics and business rules to help build and execute offers; and applying lessons learned. Just tackling one of these four steps can make a world of difference – most importantly, some level of progress around each one may be essential. Many companies are ahead of the pack and the gap is getting wider. That “old-school” salesperson is making a comeback – just in a little different fashion.

*”Know What Your Customers Want Before They Do”, by Thomas H. Davenport, Leandro Dalle Mulle and John Lucker, Harvard Business Review, December 2011

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