March 21, 2017

Opportunities for insight from location as a dimension in your customer analytics

By Paul Laughlin

locationLocation has been a key dimension for analytics for many years.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and engaging data visualisations have all added to how engaging data with a location field can appear.

However, do you just use this data dimension to compare business performance or consumer behaviour at a macro level? Are you really generating customer insights, leading to innovative products or services as a result of thinking deeply about location?

To consider this oft neglected dimension of insight generation and CX innovation, I am pleased to welcome back guest blogger Tony Boobier. Tony has been off on his travels, but penned this for us as he reflected on what he has learnt along the way.

Location for Chilean Cafe Bank

I’ve just returned from a trip to Chile, when I had the opportunity to dine with the Chairman of the largest technology vendor in Latin America. ‘One thing special about this place is our ability to implement innovation’, he explained, which I thought was pretty rich when discussing a country of deserts, earthquakes, volcanoes and icebergs. He explained that in a country of relatively recent political upheaval, people were more tolerant of change.

Almost to reinforce that message, I came across a Café-bank in downtown Santiago, the capital city, which was buzzing with activity.

A café bank is what it says on the sign outside. It’s a café with food and drinks of course, spaces for people to meet and work together (in the style of the Fintech culture, where café bars seems to have replaced offices for dynamic startups). It provides free wifi of course – but also banking advice on the spot.

Although my Spanish is a bit rusty, I was also able to understand that customers of the particular bank involved also get a discount on their refreshment purchases by way of incentive.

So what we had here was two quite disparate customer-facing functions operating out of the same premises. Location rather than function. Hmm.

Could co-location be the new bundling?

I guess we’re already aware of bundling of products – booking an airline ticket almost inevitably invites you to consider travel insurance cover or hotel accommodation. But I hadn’t seen bundling of locations before in quite the same way. (I think that there may already be some pilot schemes occurring in London by the way, so I know this might not be big news for all of you, BTW).

I wondered about the efficacy of this location-based, customer-facing, approach to bundled services in the same location. Personally I go to the bank to conduct financial transactions (occasionally). I go to the coffee shop to work, meet or just kill time. I’m trying to think of the convergence point of banking and coffee in terms of needing both at the same time – and after all, couldn’t my bank give me a free coffee if I wanted to drop in? Doesn’t my local car dealer provides me with coffee when I drop in for a vehicle service? So what’s the difference?

But I am intrigued by this co-location approach. How far could it be stretched? Could you provide legal advice in a UK pub – where many disputes are at least aired, even if not resolved, over a few pints of best bitter? Could you put a chiropodist into a shoe shop?

Could more of your analytics consider location?

Beyond this, if you expand the concept of ‘location analytics’, on the basis that everyone and everything is somewhere, and that where a service is physically based becomes a critical success factor, what’s to stop the co-location of quite odd bedfellows?

Some supermarkets already have currency exchange booths and Amazon collection points which seem to reinforce that idea, but you need to be sensible about these things. Personally I’m not sure that a chiropodist in a pub would work, but perhaps you get the idea.

How aware is your country of location?

I was also especially interested by the recent survey by Geospatial, who spend their time looking at trends in the use of GIS, or location analytics systems. This looks amongst other things at a countries ‘geographic index’ or awareness of location. It’s a great report which identifies UK as a leading country in terms of location awareness from a technological viewpoint. Top ones incidentally include US, Canada, UK, and Netherlands, with  Germany, Singapore and Russia following up closely.

I suppose, in a curious sort of way, that this takes us full circle into having a local post office in the corner of a traditional English village shop.

At the end of the day, perhaps ‘location’ is a one of the greatest key attributes in customer and consumer analytics. Location analytics will inevitably increase in importance. It’s a big step from the GIS approach, which has been viewed historically as a mainly back-room topic.

Where are you analysing?

Thanks Tony, for sharing those reflections.

What about you? Is location analytics a key part of your customer or consumer insight work? Have you considered the possibility of it identifying opportunities for co-located services or other innovations?

Do share any insights or breakthroughs you’ve had as a result of analysing location data.