Looper teaches us the future of customer experience

I remember years ago watching Steven Seagal come back from a coma to kick Senate butt in Hard To Kill, and the particular scene where he scribbles an old proverb on the toilet seat that the anticipation of death is worse than death itself. Of course, it was a self-fulfilling prophesy, the evil senator is now afraid knowing that at some point he’s going to die at the hands of our Aikido wielding hero and makes mistakes.

And more recently I watched Looper, a time traveling scifi with Willis and Gordon-Levitt caught in a bit of an infinite loop and the only way to break it is to do something different. And it got me thinking about Big Data and Predictive Analytics (God knows why).


Big data promises companies unparalleled insight into the consumer world; purchasing behaviour, social and personal habits, information in near-to-real-time. Combine this with predictive analytics and businesses start to build a current and future picture of what their customer base will likely react to, what choices they’re likely to make, where, when, both on a mass consumption/ demographic  level and surgically targeted individual level. And here is where the new paradigm breaks down and becomes just another endless cat-and-mouse cycle.

Customers aren’t stupid.  While you will perceive to gain the edge over consumer and competitor for a while the customer at large will begin to twig that you hold all this information and are using it for advantage as well as providing them with a more personalized and efficient service. And they’ll demand more. They’ll expect you to anticipate what they want because you’ve promised to, and you’ll turn to your data scientists to eke more out of the predictive engines and bucket of data. You’ll want to buy in more data to fuel it. And for a while there’s an uneasy stalemate and the public are satiated with the level of service again.

The itch

But then there’s that itch again…heightened expectation and anticipation for you to meet their growing demands. And so the cycle begins again. No longer is the status quo enough. You’ll need to maintain the 2 Second Advantage or the customer starts to leave you in droves, taking their data with them. You have to up your game.

Customers aren’t stupid. But betting your business decisions solely on predictive analytics might be a self-fulfilling infinite loop of cat-and-mouse. At some point you’re going to have to break the loop to win the game.

And we think we’re so clever….


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Categories: Customer Service, Data Analytics / Big Data, Information Technology, Loyalty, Marketing, Patterns / Rules / Events, Real-time, Selling

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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6 Comments on “Looper teaches us the future of customer experience”

  1. October 10, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Excellent point, Theo. At some stage along the line, it is no longer insight, and you are no longer predicting anything. And soon the average Joe goes back to become no one in particular again.

  2. October 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Theo, doesn’t this loop infer an unlimited desire for the same thing on the part of the customer? I’ll give it to you that there was no shortage of senators for Seagal to kill.

    But, let’s say I make cookies. If I use predictive analytics just to figure out ways to sell the same customer more of the same type of cookies, at some point the customer will get tired of those cookies.

    Unless I figure out how to use predictive analytics to sell you the cookies you love, plus another type of cookies, or, conversely to sell you the same type and volume of cookies you love at a lower cost to produce, I’m dead in the water. If I do figure that out, I control the loop or create subsequent loops.

    I’m not sure the customer will change their expectation based on knowing you know things about the as much as they’ll change their behavior because organizations will use analytics to hammer them with something beyond their desire to want it.


    • October 11, 2012 at 1:58 am #

      Hi Ron,

      Good points and now I’m hungry for chocolate chip with hazelnut.

      I believe the Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle may work here, in that customers who know they are being scrutinized at personal levels may start to act differently and manipulate to their own advantage, therefore create a false expectation that a company would react to.

      Every system has a flaw that can be exploited, analytics is no different.

      You have to think like a customer to sell to a customer. Data at the end of the day does not preclude the ability to ‘think’ so there is always a human element needed.

  3. Surabhi
    October 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Great Point Theo…Totally agree .Mostly tried and tested techniques is applied and Less hand in hand working between statistician and Marketers.

  4. Ed Murphy
    October 16, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    This brought to mind a brief essay written by Norman Cousins in 1966. If this article interested you, then you might be interested to read it. http://www.digitalathena.com/poet-and-the-computer.html


  1. The Prism Method by Cambio Partners | 3 Tips for Twitter Retweeting - October 10, 2012

    […] Here’s an example: Hopefully! Progress! MT @BPMredux: @rwang0 @BrentLeary#bigdata #analytics create infinite loop of incr cust expect’n? http://successfulworkplace.com/2012/10/10/why-predictive-analytics-will-create-an-infinite-loop-of-c… […]

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