Data - The Game Changer For Enhancing The Customer Experience

By Govind Seshadri, Vice President - Technology, Epsilon India

When a customer approaches a particular brand, they do it with the intent to live the experience the brand offers. However, many times, it is brands that do not live up to experiential expectations that consumers now expect. That’s why most companies have now realized this and have made improving customer experience a top priority.

Enhancing the customer experience relies upon one bedrock assumption which may sound obvious, but is not always realized - brands really need to understand their customer! And for that to happen, they need to completely focus on or even re-think their data strategies. In fact, this view is also reflected by the latest worldwide industry trends. In a recent global survey of client-side marketers conducted by E consultancy and Adobe, 65% of  espondents indicated that improved data analysis could enhance the customer experience.

Data, the lifeline for customer experience

Data is the lifeline to an organization’s growth. In order to drive the best customer experience, it is important to first draw out the right objectives and strategies. In the process of developing a strong data-driven customer experience strategy, the following must be kept in mind:

- Clearly define the key customercentric objectives that are of priority

For any strategy to be successful, you need to first clearly outline the objectives you are trying to achieve. So, in this case, it is critical that your objectives track the relevant KPIs, when achieved, have a direct impact on improving the customer experience. These should not necessarily be the enterprise KPIs like increasing revenue, profitability, market share, etc. which are not customer experience specific. It is also important that the appropriate stakeholders, especially from outward-bound functions like marketing and customer service, are involved in defining these objectives. For example, some KPIs that have a clear correlation with customer experience are customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer lifetime value (CLV), customer effort score (CES), net promoter score (NPS) and redemption rate (RR) for those enterprises with a loyalty program.

" By strategically leveraging existing data assets, companies can significantly transform their customer Engagement strategies while driving greater advocacy and brand loyalty"

- Focus on the key customer experiences that will help you realize your objectives

Once the key objectives have been  defined, the next step will be to decide the specific stages of the customer journey where the focus must be. For instance, if increasing redemption rate is one of the key objectives, then the focus should be on increased personalization of the offers provided by a recommendation engine, as the customer is browsing. Or if maximizing CLTV is an objective, then the checkout process can be optimized, preferably through the implementation of a seamless, one-click order management facility.

Before deciding upon the stages within the customer journey that need focus, you will need to carry out an exploratory data analysis of discrete data repositories containing customer transaction data, customer service interactions, weblogs, etc. This will provide better insights around what data points are required at each stage, as well as the problem areas that need to be addressed to improve the customer experience.

- Develop a strong customer management plan

Interaction with a customer over a prolonged period of time, should result in a stronger understanding of the customer’s behavior and preferences, enabling more personalized communications with them. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Few things irritate a customer more than receiving well-intentioned but irrelevant offers from the brands they trust. Just imagine the frustration of a vegetarian  receiving a 50% off coupon from their favorite hotel chain, asking them to try out their new seafood restaurant. Or a beach lover (who hates heights) being thanked for their loyalty with an offering of a two-night complimentary stay at a mountain resort! A strong customer management plan should rely upon detailed data analysis of the purchase pattern over a significant period of time, mapping customers into personas via sophisticated analytical models based on past purchases and brand interactions.

In today’s fast moving world, it is imperative that any organization turns its customer insights into action at the earliest, lest they lose the business opportunity. There are numerous, real-time analytics platforms that can enable this. Communications must reach customers in their preferred channel of choice. Of course, it is equally important to measure the impact of that action on the bottom line, constantly fine tuning the entire communication process with feedback. Sending the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, on the right channel is one of the best things that can be done to improve the customer experience!

The impact of a higher quality of customer experience cannot be underestimated. It has a direct impact on the long term growth of the organization, affecting its sales, profits, and reputation. By strategically leveraging existing data assets, companies can significantly transform their customer engagement strategies while driving greater advocacy and brand loyalty.

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