Anyone who serves customers recognizes that improving their experience with you is the key to drawing them closer. That can’t be done in a vacuum; it requires a true understanding of what customers want and need, what they are trying to accomplish, how they do it, and how they feel about it.
Gaining this understanding requires accessing, analyzing and understanding customer data. Yet the degree to which companies don’t use their customer data to benefit their customers continues to surprise us. In many cases, CX remains all sell and no serve.
To succeed in this CX-centric environment, organizations need to flip this notion around. Focus first on serving, and sales will follow. Because profiting from a better customer experience and the loyalty it drives means accepting that the experience is based on how your company is perceived by your customers as they interact with you.
To improve the perception, you need to anticipate your customers’ needs by embracing the data that increasingly surrounds them. In other words, customer data is one of the highest priorities for any company hoping to improve their experience design in service of a better CX.
With this in mind, here are five customer data lessons you can’t afford to ignore.
Appropriately value the data you are already generating. Every company already gathers and stores customer data generated by your current relationships. As the field of analytics turns more and more predictive, there’s more and more value to be found in the data you already gather. In fact, I’d suggest one of your most valuable assets is the customer insights you can gain by analyzing the data you already have.
Treat customer data as a strategic asset. Speaking of the data you have…in many organizations, it’s “owned” by IT. Which is fine, as long as a senior business (rather than IT) executive shares or has responsibility for ensuring that customer data is accurate, complete, consistent, and timely. Customer data isn’t just a by-product of customer interactions, it’s a strategic business asset. Treat it accordingly.
Make your customer data integrated and easily accessible across your organization. Data integration isn’t super sexy. On the other hand, a free flow of information across channels and silos simply won’t happen without it. Nor can omni-channel experiences and cross-channel marketing. So if you want to improve operations and drive engagement, make sure your data is connected (and accessible!) across all essential business processes.
Don’t let “big-data hype” obscure the business value of small data. With Small Data, I’m referring to datasets that contain specific attributes and can be used to determine or evaluate current conditions. For example, text analytics of Voice of the Customer (VoC) comments, or customer satisfaction surveys. If you’re among the smart minority that have your small data totally under control, then vaya con dios. If not, back away from big data.
Make it personal. Use your data to understand all customers, and each customer, and prioritize. There are many ways to use data to better understand and prioritize your customers. For example, you can apply data to inform service decisions: A customer whose data identifies them as more loyal and valuable can be instantly moved to the front of the call center queue, while a less-loyal, lower value customer may need to wait longer or be rerouted. It may not be entirely fair, but it’s valid.
With VoC and survey data in particular, your customers are already telling you what is important to them. In your prioritization of measurement and metrics to assess the relevance of your customer experiences, don’t overlook the wealth of customer data you already have in house.
The bottom line is that integrated customer data and the insights derived from analyzing it help executives, managers and practitioners make intelligent business decisions around things as diverse as sales, marketing, product development, and customer service delivery.
However, many firms have yet to leverage available technology or shift organizational structures, business processes, or products in ways that permits integrated management and intelligent use of customer insights.
It’s the ability to use customer data to anticipate customer needs and intelligently respond that will separate the winners from the losers in the high-stakes game of business.