Why Currys is putting the ‘human’ at the heart of its data strategy

Sharing data can have real benefits for the consumer as well as the business, so communicating this value exchange is key, says Currys’ head of CRM. 

Marketers need to put the human customer at the heart of their data strategies to build better customer experiences online and in-stores, Currys’ head of CRM, personalisation and loyalty Saul Lopes has said.

In an increasingly digitalised world, there can be a great deal of emphasis put on online touchpoints, he said at the Festival of Marketing: Transform today (24 March). But marketers need to think about how they can use data to improve the customer experience offline.

“It’s something that sometimes we forget, because we get so hyped up on the consent and the GDPR and the data collection bits. We forget about the customer,” Lopes said.

Offering an example of bringing the human back into an “otherwise dead digital journey”, Lopes explained how at Currys, when customers have a below par experience the company will physically reach out with an apology via direct mail.

This simple exercise resulted in a 20% increase in retention rate, Lopes said.

Meanwhile, in his previous job as head of CRM at Virgin Holidays, one of the brand’s most effective personalised campaigns was to ring customers after they had been on holiday and ask them if they enjoyed their trip.

Currys is therefore on its own mission to put “the human” at the centre of its data strategy. This has meant thinking about what the brand can give its customer in return for their data.

Marketers should not focus on getting as much data as possible, but instead think about the value it can bring, Lopes said.

We’ve created a bespoke journey where its sole objective is to help people better enjoy the tech they just bought.

Saul Lopes, Currys

In October 2021, the retailer introduced its loyalty programme Currys Perks. In launching the programme, Currys made a promise to its consumers – if they provide the company with data they can access tangible rewards like exclusive deals, personalised discounts and partner offers, such as three months free subscription to Apple TV+.

Lopes also placed emphasis on the importance of the post-purchase journey as an area where data collected by the company can bring real value.

“We’ve created a bespoke journey where its sole objective is to help people better enjoy the tech they just bought,” he said.

For example, customers are reminded to measure their space before they purchase a large piece of home technology, like a washing machine. It’s common for customers to return these kinds of appliances because they’ve forgotten to do so.

The retailer also uses purchase data to provide customers with details on how to care for their new appliances.Currys hails ‘strategic clarity’ of rebrand as profits grow

The idea of value exchange is applicable for in-store consumers as well as those online, Lopes added. Rather than keeping hold of a paper receipt, Currys can store a digital copy online for consumers that can be sent over email.

However, while there is a value exchange for in-store customers in sharing their data, it has been up to Currys’ retail staff to communicate this to them.

“We started educating all of our colleagues on this,” Lopes said.

“They did such a great job, both retail directors and all of our colleagues on the ground, that we managed to more than double our consent ratio in retail, just by raising the awareness.”

Creating an omnichannel journey

In its ambition to create a coherent end-to-end journey for consumers, all teams within Curry’s have had to work together, whether in retail, call centres or online.

Lopes admitted that onboarding everyone in a business the size of Currys has been “really hard”. The company approached this by involving all stakeholders in the strategy-making process, rather than dictating it down to them.

As a result, everyone at Currys understands why first-party data is important and knows their own role in collecting it.

Zero-party data, or data shared proactively with a brand, is becoming an increasingly discussed topic in the area of data strategy.

While Currys gets a huge amount of data just from natural traffic on its website, which can gather 24 million views in peak weeks, the company uses some zero-party data mechanisms to gather additional insights.Octopus Energy: Customer experience is not just a job for marketing

For example, Currys ran a competition to win an iPhone, where consumers needed to provide their phone contract expiry date to enter. This enabled the company to target mobile phone deals to the individual at the right time.

Over the pandemic, Currys used online video consultations to give advice from colleagues to customers when stores were shut. These customers tended to be looking to make more complex purchases, and so it made sense to keep in contact for a follow-up. The contact details were a good source of data for Currys and provided real value to the consumer.

Yet, shifting to a focus on the whole customer journey with its data strategy and away from driving short-term sales hasn’t had a significant impact on sales numbers.

Indeed, Lopes said the retailer had been pleased by “the sales that actually generate when you don’t actually focus on selling”.



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