In today’s customer-centric economy, what truly differentiates a brand from its competitors is how well it can deliver a good customer experience. As customers expect faster response times and better personalized experiences, it is increasingly critical for brands to garner customer insights in near real-time to break through the clutter and grab their attention.
To produce these insights, businesses will need to collect and make sense of massive volumes of customer data, such as demographics, location data and purchasing habits. Data has now become intertwined into every aspect of the business, especially in its marketing initiatives – according to a 2017 Cognito survey, 79 percent of marketers said that data analytics will have the highest impact on their marketing operations in 2018.
In Indonesia, the government’s National Medium-Term Development Plan 2015–2019 has also highlighted a need for the development of connective and accessible transport infrastructure, as the country gears towards high productivity and innovation. Aligned with the government’s initiatives, transport companies such as Blue Bird have shifted their focus to leverage data-driven insights so as to better address the needs of consumers through personalized ride services.
I spoke to Amelia Nasution, Marketing Director of PT Blue Bird Tbk, to understand how data has made an impact and transformed marketing efforts in a traditional transport service.
1. Coming from a strong background in marketing, when did you first realize that you could utilize data to do more in your marketing outreach efforts for Blue Bird?
In many traditional businesses, standardized offers are pushed out to a wide audience, regardless of their demographic, due to the lack of sufficient data for customer profiling. However, in the digital age, in which customers are more knowledgeable and are demanding more personalized deals, we have to keep up with the trends and transform our business to meet their expectations.
When I first started at Blue Bird in March 2017, I had the opportunity to build my department from the ground up. This allowed me to see things differently – what is mission critical to the business and what can wait. With the shift in customer preferences, there is no doubt that we need to leverage and integrate the use of customer data in our overall marketing strategy.
A challenge, however, that we have faced is that a large proportion of Blue Bird’s transactions were one-off, stemming from street-hailed rides. As a marketer, all these questions start floating up – where can we collect more insights from our customers? How can we collect this data? Upon collection of this data, what tool or platform can we use to process and analyze this massive volume of customer data?
2. What did you set out to achieve when you introduced ideas of a data revolution? Were there skeptics that you had to convince of your vision?
As a trusted and reliable transport provider for 45 years, we are committed to go beyond delivering just the core of transportation – we aim to also offer a pleasant journey to our customers. How we can achieve this was really through better understanding of our customers.
Garnering customer insights can allow us to better improve our operations, deliver relevant offers and a personalized experience to our customers. As such, what we needed to support our initiative was an integrated system that could process and analyze the massive volume of data from various sources, such as from our mobile application platform, online reservation website and call centers, to profile each customer.
A data mining program was implemented to obtain information from the majority of our customers who were previously left out of the conversation. This process allowed us to truly understand and satisfy all touchpoints across our customers’ journeys.
I believe that most traditional businesses in Indonesia are increasingly open to the idea of “digital transformation”. Therefore, my colleagues at Blue Bird were on board with the idea of utilizing data to garner business insights from the very beginning. It is certainly a blessing to be working with teams that are extremely supportive of my take on the data revolution and contributed greatly to this data mining program.
3. Can you share with us a Blue Bird marketing campaign that relied heavily on data solutions to achieve its success?
We are in the midst of creating a tailored campaign targeted at our female customers.
Aligned with our narrative that Blue Bird is not ‘just another transport company’ that only serves to bring our passengers from one point to another, we strongly regard the safety of both our customers and drivers with utmost importance. In this upcoming campaign, we will be tapping on customer insights derived from data we have collected, i.e. our customers’ ridership patterns.
Using a two-pronged approach, we will then identify and partner with brands to develop hyper-personalized campaigns to achieve our objective – pushing out our messaging and educating our female riders what they should take note of when booking a ride.
4. What are the lessons that you have learned during your journey to introduce a data-first marketing approach in Blue Bird? What would you say is the greatest challenge you face now, in light of the move towards an Extreme Data Economy?
In today’s world where digital disruption is rampant, it is important to understand that data and analytics have seeped into every nook and cranny of an organization. What this means is that no silo department can take on data transformation by itself – we need to support one other to achieve the organizational goal. This is the same for Blue Bird where our marketing team works very closely with the Chief IT Officer and his team to ensure that our data mining system is up and running and is generating the insights we need for targeted campaigns.
With more businesses spearheading the data conversation in the transport and ride-hailing industry, Blue Bird has to keep up with this evolution. One way to increase Blue Bird’s brand visibility amongst our tech-savvy audience would be to differentiate ourselves as a transport provider that supports customers on their rides, through their rides.
As Amelia has pointed out, transport is no longer just about getting a ride from one destination to another. It has evolved into a highly personalized experience and transportation companies can help enhance it by offering customers beyond what they are expecting.
While collecting customer data is critical, what will make an organization successful is dependent on how they are analyzing and acting on the customer insights – in near real-time, if possible. However, in this new Extreme Data Economy, new data challenges have surfaced as more information is exchanged online and across multiple devices. With the increased unpredictability of data and complexity of analysis, a sophisticated insight engine will thus be required to provide organizations with instant answers to complex data questions as the data streams in. Besides personalizing experiences in real-time, organizations can also make informed business decisions on the fly and turn data itself into valuable new revenue channels.
By Joseph Lee, Vice President, Asia Pacific Japan, Kinetica in conversation with Amelia Nasution, Marketing Director, PT Blue Bird Tbk