IDENTIFYING THE CUSTOMER
Innovation in how customers are identified is an implementation of new customer segmentation (4).Segmentation calls for separation, categorization and classification of objects, and should be donebefore analysing data and information about customers. By using segmentation, organizations canclassify and categorize customers based on certain features that will allow them to identify targetmarkets. These features, if managed appropriately, will improve service and products. For example,by segmenting customers based on demographic data (such as disposable income) and analysingtheir tendencies (such as willingness to purchase products), organizations can position productsbetter and improve marketing campaigns, among other aspects.Npower Seattle is an example of successful customer categorization. The non-profit organization,which assists other non-profits with technology-related projects, upgrades and strategies, has foundthat customer segmentation greatly assists its relationships. While acknowledging that thecharacterizations it creates are caricatures, the firm has found it highly beneficial to assesscustomers as "technology constrained," "technology optimists" and "technology investors."Each of these categories has different needs for, and perceptions of, technology. For instance,technology-constrained customers tend to be frustrated with the limitations of technology andperceive it as a burden and a cost, and consequently seek to limit their investment in technology. Onthe other hand, technology optimists are willing to invest in new technologies, but want a partner toassist them in choosing and adjusting to these technologies. Thus, by categorizing customers in thisway, Npower Seattle can tailor offerings to customers based on their perceived needs and likelyintentions around technology.
ANALYSING CUSTOMER INFORMATION
Dramatic advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have influenced the wayorganizations analyse customer information. Today, because information can be collected andanalysed in real time, organizations have an abundance of customer information. This information isconstantly being collected from financial institutions, credit reporting agencies, local stores, andother sources, with and without the customers knowledge.Physical devices complement and add to this increasingly large pool of electronic information.Collection and identification devices, such as store cards and radio-frequency identification (RFID)tags, enable organizations to collect accurate information on customer purchases. RFID devices canbe attached to products in a store to track their movement within the store. In addition,organizations are able to record and store such information with ease because data storage mediaare so inexpensive.In the health care industry, the abundance of patient claims data, including disease information, riskbehaviours, information on medical visits, and prescription history, have encouraged managed-carecompanies and some employers to mine the data and develop predictive models to help managehealth care costs.Not only does more customer information exist, but interactions around customer information havebecome more frequent. For example, almost all organizations have begun to exploit the Internet andits variants to share information. The end result is that customer information is available in a larger