Customer experience: from goldfish to GDPR

‘Moneyball’ in the world of soccer, the use of analytics to save refugees’ lives, applying mathematics to predict divorces and to influence gossip in the office, and even a royal visit: there were plenty of reasons to attend SAS’ Analytics Experience in Amsterdam. But probably the most compelling reason to visit this event were the many insights provided around the importance of the customer experience.

“Our attention span is surprisingly comparable to a goldfish’s, think only of the way we use our remote control or how we click away online”. With this comparison in his keynote, SAS’ Chief customer Officer Fritz Lehman managed to get our attention for much more than the 8 seconds he was referring to as the maximum ‘window of opportunity’. Lehman’s main message: if you truly want to grab the customer’s attention, you need to provide a superior customer experience. And the better you know the customer, the better the experience you can offer. Lehman, formerly a competitive swimmer, likes to quote Al Pacino as the coach in the American football movie Any Given Sunday: “The difference between winning and losing is a matter of inches and seconds.” We don’t know about the inches in the customer experience but the seconds definitely count.

When user experience becomes a life-saver...

But customer experience goes beyond that few seconds timeframe to catch someone’s attention, obviously. The most striking example was in the keynotes by Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, nephew of the Dutch king Willem-Alexander, and by Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for IOM (International Organization for Migration). Both made a compelling argument for the use of data as a valuable contribution to making the refugees’ and caregivers’ lives easier and increasing the quality of care and aid. It also became obvious that by simply providing an easy interface, a lot more data were entered on the availability of aid workers on the one hand and the need for assistance on the other hand. By linking those respective data, aid to refugees and migrants becomes a lot more effective.

The importance of the user experience transpired in most of the sessions, from GDPR (good data quality ensures better protection of their data subject as well as the quality of the analytics) over football (Scisports offers a huge database of player profiles but also prepares a VR offering where you can experience an actual game from the point of view of one of the players) to an overview of the expected jobs in the future: highly ranked new job titles were a.o. Chatbot Gag Writer and AI Voice coach.

... and helps uncover a serial killer

Icing on the cake was the keynote by Hannah Fry, a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL. She talked about how mathematics can uncover the secret of a successful relationship but also how data visualization has helped uncover a serial killer. The main message was, if you let the data lead you to the insights, there is no telling what you might discover. An insightful and flexible user experience can make the difference in such cases.