Chapter 12. Building Customer Signatures for Further Analysis

The combination of SQL and Excel is powerful for manipulating data, visualizing trends, exploring interesting features, and finding patterns. However, SQL is still a language designed for data access, and Excel is still a spreadsheet designed for investigating relatively small amounts of data. Although powerful, the combination has its limits.

The solution is to use more powerful data mining and statistical tools, provided by vendors such as SAS, SPSS, and Insightful (among others, including open source software). Because the data typically resides in a relational database, SQL can play an important role in transforming it into the format needed for further analysis.

Preparing the data for such applications is where customer signatures fit in. A customer signature summarizes the attributes of a customer, putting important information in one place. The model sets discussed in the previous two chapters are examples of customer signature tables. Signatures are useful beyond sophisticated modeling, having their roots in customer information files and marketing information files developed for reporting purposes.

Customer signatures are powerful because they summarize both customer behavior and customer demographics in one place. The term “customer” should not be taken too literally. In some businesses, for instance, prospecting is much more important than customers. So, the “customer” may be a prospect and “customer behavior” ...

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