We often think of anthropology as the study of an indigenous group located in a remote part of the Amazone. But this field of study is applied today in any context where a group forged their own culture and lives within their own set of core values, rules and behaviours. Customer Analytics is the anthropological exploration of your customer’s journey through the analysis of their digital artefacts.
Mining the Digital Artefacts
An anthropological study is for the observer: to immerse himself into a different culture; to identify their symbols and their use, the ethos of a group, their belief system, their core values and ideas; to understand how that cultural background manifests into actions.
A fine example of this is the study of the hacking group Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman. In this very immersive book, the author narrates her initial encounter with the group and how she slowly immersed herself into that group, describing their unique ethos (the lolz), how their actions derived from that endless pursuit of the lolz and the particular environment (irc channels) in which the members interacted.
What’s even more interesting is how her material for this book is almost exclusively comprised of chat transcripts from irc channels. In a sense, the anthropological reconstruction of that culture has been entirely done through their manifestation in the digital realm.
Digital Artefacts as Building Blocks of Customer Journeys
Your customers are no different than the hackers from Anonymous as they also leave a trail of digital artefacts that provides deep insights not only on their actions, but the whole context of their actions. If you think of their behaviours as a manifestation of their own culture (it is one in the sense that they are driven by a common ethos/goal and are acting within the boundaries of a specific ecosystem), then you can start thinking of customer analytics as not only a recommendation engine project, but as a programme to better understand your customers and how you fit into their journeys.
We often think of our services/products as an end in itself (their sales grows the bottom line), but customer analytics provides unique opportunities to adopt the point of view of your own customers. For them, your service/product is not an end in itself, it is only a single step into their own journey.
Anthropological Understanding of your Customers
Analytics is the art of finding meaningful patterns in data. In regards to customer analytics, it translates into discovering behavioural patterns from customers. From an anthropological perspective, the discovery of such behavioural patterns is to decipher the manifestations of a (sub-)culture.
Customer Analytics gives you access to the exploratory means to discover your customer’s story, a context that sheds light into their behaviours. It’s something you engage in, not necessarily to increase your bottom line, but to provide a better experience – to forge an ecosystem that fits perfectly into your customer’s journeys.