How to Ensure Customer Excellence with Big Data and a Human Touch

How to Ensure Customer Excellence with Big Data and a Human Touch

September 21, 2020

The lifeblood of any business or nonprofit is happy clients or donors. The challenge is in knowing how to create experiences they’ll enjoy, remember, and keep coming back for. Luckily, innovative analytics has made it easier than ever to ensure customer excellence. This guide covers why you should use big data to guide client interactions and the best strategies to use. It’ll also touch on some tools that automate the process and save you money.

This article is based on a presentation by Chady AlAhmar, Head of Strategy and Finance for U.S. Bank. 

Why You Should Leverage Big Data and Analytics

Customer excellence is when someone will choose your business or organization over anyone else in your industry. However, it hinges on the individual. What delights one person isn’t necessarily going to work on another.

That’s where client data comes in. With the right info, you can take a prospect on a unique journey that has a high probability of converting them. As AlAhmar found out, there are also customer trends that encourage data usage, including desires for experiences that are:

  • Simple – People want it to be easy to do business with you, e.g. no complicated forms
  • Personalized – Clients want to feel like you understand exactly who they are
  • Cheap – People need to know that you’re efficient with their money
  • Responsible – It’s important to customers that the product or organization has a higher social good or purpose

People are also becoming more comfortable with algorithm-based technologies. It doesn’t bother them when Alexa predicts their thoughts or grocery lists. They value this convenience. 

For the same reason, they anticipate you have and will use data about them to improve their interactions with your organization. However, as AlAhmar points out, customers are still thinking, “If I’m doing business with you, I still expect you to really, really take care of my data.” As such, make sure you’re following General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines

Five Top Tips for Customer Experience Strategy

AlAhmar’s team at U.S. Bank uses and recommends this strategy for cultivating customer excellence:

1. Know Your Client

AlAhmar notes, “The client is saying, “I’m a client of the bank. You have my social security, you have all the information on me. So, I expect you to know me.”

And know them you should. It’s easy to gather data about customers. Use that info to create a seamless, VIP experience that makes their life easier. 

2. Reach Out at the Right Time

This doesn’t mean don’t call a prospect at dinner time—although you shouldn’t do that either. Rather, get a big picture view of what’s going on in a client’s life before getting in touch.

“Do not reach out with every single product every day,” advises AlAhmar. “Try to figure out how to use all that data and prioritize it, so that you can figure out [when the client is most likely] going to engage with you.”

This practice, also known as prospect research, can tell you if someone just had a major life change. For example, if a potential donor recently moved or changed jobs, you likely don’t want to approach them for major gift fundraising. On the other hand, someone who has sold their business might be a great candidate. 

3. Use the Right Channel

Some people don’t want to be contacted by phone or would prefer to talk via email. Always learn your clients’ communication boundaries and stick to them.

“Every person has a different way to engage,” instructs AlAhmar. “If you have a client or a donor, you’d better know how to connect with them. [What are] their preferences? That’s going to be key.”

4. Offer Advice, Not a Sale

The best way to engage with your clients? Try to provide advice or a solution before offering a product or making a donation request.

Of course, you can connect this advice or service to your eventual ask. For example, AlAhmar wouldn’t prod a client to roll over her 401(k). Instead, he would start by giving her advice about the new tax bill and what kind of implications it has for her.

5. Incorporate Machine Learning

It’s vital to know which of the previous four strategies are converting your prospects and what needs tweaking. All your client interactions should be connected to a program that can record and analyze them to optimize the process.

AlAhmar describes how his team uses this kind of feedback loop when engaging with their customers: “We have WealthEngine in front of our advisors using Salesforce where any client, any prospect, you have the score right away.”


This Propensity to Give (P2G) score indicates how likely a prospect is to buy or donate. WealthEngine calculates the score by analyzing factors like assets, a person’s history of giving, and more.

“I know that client before I even connect with them,” notes AlAhmar, “and based on whether they agree to meet with me or not, the machine is going to learn. It’s going to tell me this specific trigger is working better than the other trigger.”

Final Thoughts: Leveraging Big Data Helps Care for Clients

AlAhmar was once friends with an elderly man in his congregation named John. Although he was initially hesitant about leaving $7 million to the church, he trusted AlAhmar to allocate the money wisely based on their existing relationship. 

The foundation for his trust was simple. “Whenever [my wife and her mom] cook [John’s favorite meal], they send some to John, because he’s in his 80s and he loves that food,” recalls AlAhmar. This humble act between friends imbued John with the confidence that his gift was in good hands. 

The exchange summarizes AlAhmar’s approach to data-driven customer experiences. The right info at the right time backed up by a positive, pre-existing relationship helps clients feel valued and secure in your partnership. A tool like WealthEngine makes it automatic. Get in touch today for a demo. 


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