Big Data vs. Little Data – Or Is It? – Luke Lonergan

Big-DataIf you look up the definition of big data on online encyclopedias, you will find that it is considered data that is too complicated to process thanks to its sheer size and complexity. When it comes to customer service, it wouldn’t seem as though big data has much to offer. After all, it does tend to concentrate on large numbers and general trends.

However, plenty of customer service oriented industries not only recognize the value of big data, but also use it to improve their customers experience with them. How do they do this, you ask? Well, the answer lies in a slightly obscure term known as Little Data.

Little Data

The term ‘little data’ isn’t quite as well known as its ‘big’ counterpart. While big data tends to focus on masses of people, little data focuses on the individual or small masses of customers. While big data can be used to capitalize on a trend, little data can be used to tailor the customer’s experience based on their individual preferences. For instance, a high fashion store knows that a particular customer tends to favor a specific style. A pizzeria knows what toppings a specific customer prefers.

Advantage of Little Data

If a company uses little data, it tends to focus on the individual customer and his or her preferences.  While it may make business decisions based on general trends and feedback, if it wants its customers to come back for more, it knows that customers aren’t statistics and anonymous masses. It finds out what its customer prefers, needs, dislikes and likes and then tries its best to tailor the customer’s experience to these preferences.

A good example of this is the luxury boutique hotel chain known as Kimpton Hotels. It used little data to determine what its individual customer wanted and then maximized that customer’s experience while he or she stayed with them. The results spoke for themselves. The Kimpton Hotels enjoyed very high customer satisfaction rates. Their customers keep coming back for more and are more loyal and emotionally attached than customers of other hotel chains.

Kimpton Hotels optimized their use of both big data and little data. Thanks to big data they knew what their typical customer would be like. Thanks to little data, once the customer came to them for the first time, they were able to ensure that the customer had the best experience possible. Any successful company knows that if it uses big data and little data in tandem, it will have access to general trends and specific opportunities that can help it to reach new levels of success.

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