While researching statistics for a presentation earlier in the year, I stumbled upon a recording of a 2015 webcast done by a long-time customer experience guru, Bruce Temkin. The title of the webcast, “5 Trends That Will Reshape CX Insights,” intrigued me – and I listened expecting to hear some pretty outdated trends. Afterall, 2015 was a lifetime ago in the digital world.
To my surprise and delight, the trends discussed in the recording while old(er), are by no means irrelevant. Better yet, they tie directly to a recently released HBR Pulse Survey examining analytics and customer experience. Both highlight the strong connection between analytics and experience. The webcast was predicated on this concept with all five trends explaining the dos and don’ts of customer insights for shaping experiences. The survey highlighted how little things have changed, finding that analytics still plays a critical role in experience management. Highlights include 60 percent of respondents believing that real-time analytics drives customer experience and 58 percent crediting significant improvements in customer loyalty and retention to analytics.
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Tempkin Trend 1 – Deep empathy, not stacks of metrics
This trend is tailor-made to take advantage of the myriad of unstructured data sources available today. Sources that enable companies to not only measure the what (e.g., customer satisfaction) but also to understand the why (personal context). Sentiment analysis can pinpoint the why with surprising accuracy, enabling empathy and generating customer insights that shape experiences.
This includes the use of natural language processing, text analysis and cognitive computing to identify and extract subjective information from varied sources including social media, complaint applications, video and audio tapes, and voice-of-the-customer feedback mechanisms. More sophisticated applications go beyond designations like positive, negative or neutral to assign nuanced mood designations. These designations can be correlated with historical behavior to predict immediate and future impacts based on the prevailing sentiment shown by the customer at any point in the journey.
The HBR survey reinforces this trend. While respondents point to traditional technologies such as CRM, content management applications and marketing platforms as very important, the technologies that can help with empathy ranked highly both now and into the future:
- Social media monitoring - important now 60%, important in two years 70%
- Text analytics - important now 37%, important in two years 52%
- Interactive Voice Response - important now 35%, important in two years 45%
- Speech/voice analytics - important now 21%, important in two years 39%
Tempkin Trend 2 – Continuous insights not periodic studies
While the periodic studies named in the original trend referenced activity such as market research and focus groups, modernizing the trend brings us into the realm of real-time analytics and the associated decision engines. Next best offer initiatives which combine historical behavior with situational context (what the customer is doing on the website, in the mobile app, etc.) to identify the best communication for the customer in real time provide the type of continuous insights that the webcast suggested companies should strive for.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the HBR survey say they have increased their spending on real-time customer analytics in the past year. In building a foundation for using real-time analytics to power customer experiences, respondents value the following:
- Translating data into actionable insight at the optimal time 83%
- Making data accessible (the right data to the right people at the right time) 80%
- Incorporating results into updated algorithms to provide closed-loop marketing 59%
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Tempkin Trend 3 – Customer journeys not isolated interactions
While journey mapping was (and is) a popular way to gain an understanding of the end-to-end customer journey, it is not typically done on an individual customer basis, but rather by persona. Since the webcast, a new way of looking at the customer journey through detailed analysis has been developed – customer journey analytics. As interactions become nonlinear and customers bounce from channel to channel, journey analytics attempts to connect various datasets into recognizable journeys that reflect how customers actually navigate the business. This provides depth of understanding of behavior within a channel as well as a panoramic view across channels. The goal is to identify pain points and develop actionable responses at an individual level with an astonishing degree of accuracy.
Just over half the HBR survey respondents say their use of real-time customer analytics has provided them with a significantly better understanding of, and strengthened, the customer journey. Some top drivers for increasing investments in real-time customer analytics include:
- Scaling customer-centered decisions and actions across function in the business 69%
- Designing contextual customer engagements across their journey 62%
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Need help with Trend 3? Watch this short video to learn how you can use SAS to guide your customers to where they want to go
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Tempkin Trend 4 – Useful prescriptions not past predictions
This trend highlights much more than the need to shift to predictive or prescriptive analytics. It focuses on understanding what decisions does the business need to make – and then determining how to apply analytics to aid in those decisions. In other words – avoiding analytics for analytics sake; promoting analytics for business sake.
HBR found much the same – real-time customer analytics transformation goes well beyond pure technology adoption, requiring an understanding of business objectives to be sure of success. Respondents identified the following as success factors for using real-time analytics to deliver meaningful customer interactions:
- Clear strategy/goals 42%
- Actionable data/visualizations 39%
- Collaboration across roles/functions 33%
- Strategic alignment 29%
Tempkin Trend 5 – Enterprise intelligence not customer feedback
I see this last trend as an amalgamation of all the others. An affirmation that single point factors – metrics, periodic studies, isolated interactions, past predictions and customer feedback alone do not a great experience make. Because the customer experience is the sum total of all interactions over the file of a relationship, shaping it requires data from all sources knitted together with people and processes from across the organization into an enterprise intelligence.
HBR respondents reinforce this interpretation by highlighting the following requirements for using real-time analytics to power customer experiences:
- The ability to access and use all available data (e.g., customer activity) in a seamless fashion 73%
- The ability to predict, optimize and forecast using trusted algorithms 64%
- Organizational support for experimentation 61%
- The ability to add/enhance data with new sources 61%
Mapping the HBR survey findings to the five trends shaping customer experience (circa 2015) puts a modern twist on an oldie but goodie and yields concrete steps that companies can take today to improve their customer experiences.
Guided analytics with SAS
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It’s not just about the data you collect. It’s about the people behind the data. With a deep understanding of your customers, you will rapidly generate insights for more relevant offers, better targeted activities and smarter use of your marketing budget.
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