What are you doing with your customer data?

By: Daniel Newman

The earliest known customer complaint was recorded in 1750 BC. The ancient details of a copper supplier and his unsatisfied customer prove the customer experience was — and continues to be — an important part of the transaction. The customer journey remains integral to businesses’ success, and as advancements in technology increase, so do customer expectations. Today, customers expect faster service, better communication and limitless options. When company data can’t keep up, customers leave.

Reliable data is a cornerstone of all successful businesses. Companies recognize that the ability to know and understand their customers is one of the most important things they can do to maintain them. Simple gestures like ensuring the proper spelling of names and reaching out via preferred channels of communication make a big difference. Open dialogue between a user and a company is an essential part of maintaining positive satisfaction ratings, and all of this is made possible through identifying customer insights.

Machine learning, qualitative data and cognitive analytics make it possible for companies to identify patterns in user behavior. They’re also able to pinpoint any inefficiency in customer experience and then turn that data into actionable insights.

User experience is everything…

Most websites and apps are not meeting the needs of their users. In fact, 72 percent of all websites fail to create an engaging experience that drives conversions. Out of the 1.6 million apps that exist, a mere 200 account for 70 percent of all user activity.1 To figure out what the successful companies are doing correctly, we need to look no further than data.

Netflix came out of the gate hot, boasting no late fees and a focus on its customer. Soon enough, it had put competitor Blockbuster out of business. Companies like Sephora, Nike and Amazon began taking notice of Netflix and eventually followed suit. What’s the common denominator in their success? The customer experience is at the center of their business design. Each of these companies recognizes the value in using data to personalize the customer journey and providing unique user experiences.

… But you’ve got to get it right

There’s a fine line between “helpful” and “overwhelming” in this digital marketing era. A company must stand on the helpful side of the line and offer truly personalized experiences in order to be successful — otherwise, customer retention suffers. What drives long-term user engagement and positive outcomes? Careful consideration and proper implementation of three key concepts:

  • Segmentation: Segmentation is the opposite of a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. To provide a unique experience based on user preference, companies must ask their customers questions or infer the answers based on their behaviors. Using that segmented data gives companies a leg up in customizing every touch point during the customer journey.
  • Relevance: Context has evolved beyond the when and where; today’s data shows us details as specific as customers’ feelings and social preferences. If the goal is to create a unique user profile for each customer, businesses must consider this new multifaceted context to relevant content to the correct consumer.
  • Rewards: Companies and apps must earn the privilege of their user’s information. Requiring too much personal information too early in their journey turns off potential customers. In this age of immediate satisfaction, it’s better business practice to initially gather only absolutely necessary information, and then reward the user with a coupon or incentive to maintain engagement.

To successfully engage customers, businesses rely on robust analytics to tell them many things, namely how users prefer to conduct business. Sometimes, their preference is as complex as their personalities.

The omnichannel method

Every touch point along the customer journey can make or break a sale. Convenience often trumps everything else, so when a user wants to continue engaging with a business via several different channels, companies must be able to keep up. Analytics tools allow companies to optimize the customer experience through actionable knowledge based on specific channels. Flipping the traditional “inside-out” approach to customer satisfaction on its head, today’s “outside-in” method has improved retention and brand awareness. Because the emotional journey of a customer is subjective, there’s no blanket approach to meet all needs. However, by taking a customer-centric approach through omnichannel analytics, companies are personalizing the customer experience by considering their perspective and emotions.

The customer doesn’t always make it easy, though. When they establish interest by clicking a Facebook ad while on mobile, call a service center with questions and then sign up via email for coupon offers, companies are faced with the difficult task of capturing all of this information. But the cumbersome nature of maintaining a user-centric approach to business is far outweighed by the benefits. Today’s businesses have data that shows price and services are the biggest indicators of customer tenure, as well as data to predict churn. Knowing these things about your customer is a great way to proactively reach out with incentives to increase retention.

Digital transformation and the customer experience

A recent State of Salesforce Report2 shows that more than half of the participating companies point to an intelligent application as their most valuable asset in predicting their next steps. Digital transformation is at the helm of today’s market, encouraging companies to invest in intelligent applications.

Cloud-based analytics tools encourage humans and technology to work together to improve business outcomes by supporting rapid analysis of data while empowering employees to discover insights. Investments in analytics that mimic the way the human brain works and making use of unstructured data mean companies can gather more data and make smarter business decisions. Intelligent, predictive tools capable of automation give businesses a competitive advantage.

Data makes all the difference when it comes to the customer experience. Collecting, analyzing and understanding customer data has taught us an integrated omnichannel strategy creates the optimal CX and improves journey mapping. Properly gauging your customer and their behavior means improving retention and loyalty to your brand.


[1] http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-user-experience-why-data-not-just-design-hits-the-sweet-spot/

[2] http://sosf.bluewolf.com/

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About The Author

Daniel Newman

Founder and President, Broadsuite, Inc.

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change the way business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 4x author of best-selling business... Read more

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