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Customer Motivation is a Rubik's Cube

By Feather Hickox

The Rubik's cube is one of the most frustrating toy puzzles of all time. Growing up in the 80s, any kid worth their salt had one. The Daily Beast listed it as a “Top Christmas Fad of All Time.” One F.A.O. Schwartz manager apparently told the The New York Times in 1980 that it “takes an engineer to figure out.”

So, what does the Rubik’s cube have to do with customer motivation? Customer motivation is often the result of a complex, subtle interplay of factors, some are even emotional. Customer motivation is a puzzle. Big Data makes it easier to solve the puzzle, so does well executed models and a data scientist.

The expanding Big Data universe makes it possible to discover behavioral patterns that may not be evident in smaller, more homogeneous, fixed data sets. As with the Rubik’s cube, once you figure out how to do it, there is a formula.  The magical thing about this is that the formula works from any starting point and combination, though obviously it’s not the exact same set of moves to get you to the end point. Data scientists can find new attributes highly predictive of certain motivations and behaviors, as well as combine them into unique predictors for their company – a potential source of competitive advantage. Many such elements may be incorporated in powerful predictive models.

As companies shift from traditional methods of interacting with customers based on operations-driven programs to generating individualized interactions based on customer propensities and behavior, it’s important to avoid using simplistic behavioral triggers based solely on empirical evidence and judgment. Is it effective, for instance, for a dealership to create a business rule that says “whenever customers with acceptable risk scores spend more than $400 on tires, send them an offer for special financing on a new car?” Probably not. The behavior patterns for accurately predicting whether a customer is likely to purchase a car in the near future are more complex – multi-dimensional … like a Rubik’s cube.

So, have I ever solved the Rubik’s cube? No, but I did buy one for all my friends one Christmas as a cruel joke. I’m certain several of our FICO Labs data analysts have solved a Rubik’s cube before and probably in only a few minutes.

For more information on this topic, check out our Insights paper (registration required).

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