Author(s): Kumar V, Venkatesan R, Reinartz W
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Abstract Despite an abundance of data, most companies do a poor job of predicting the behavior of their customers. In fact, the authors' research suggests that even companies that take the greatest trouble over their predictions about whether a particular customer will buy a particular product are correct only around 55\% of the time--a result that hardly justifies the costs of having a CRM system in the first place. Businesses usually conclude from studies like this that it's impossible to use the past to predict the future, so they revert to the timeworn marketing practice of inundating their customers with offers. But as the authors explain, the reason for the poor predictions is not any basic limitation of CRM systems or the predictive power of past behavior, but rather of the mathematical methods that companies use to interpret the data. The authors have developed a new way of predicting customer behavior, based on the work of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel McFadden, that delivers vastly improved results. Indeed, the methodology increases the odds of successfully predicting a specific purchase by a specific customer at a specific time to about 85\%, a number that will have a major impact on any company's marketing ROI. What's more, using this methodology, companies can increase revenues while reducing their frequency of customer contact-evidence that overcommunication with customers may actually damage a company's sales.
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Journal of Business & Financial Affairs