Building confidence in your customer experience

Forbes research reveals what marketing leaders are contemplating

By Jeff Alford, SAS Insights editor

Not surpisingly, a great customer experience is built on three main ingredients – a healthy organization, effective processes and on-target data.

But like any successful recipe, if you don’t use quality ingredients in the right order and in the right proportions, you can end up with slop instead of soufflé.

A recent Forbes Insights report, Data Elevates the Customer Experience, is based on a comprehensive survey of more than 350 leaders from top global organizations. The report outlines the organizational challenges these leaders face, and how they’re integrating data across the enterprise and establishing best practices to produce superior customer experiences.

Download the report

Almost six in 10 leaders say they understand the link between their customers’ experiences and analytics 'extremely well,' but based on the survey results, their ability to create a link between the customer experience and their internal efforts needs the support that analytics can provide.
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The organization: Biggest challenges

The results of the survey reveal that for many marketing organizations, the biggest struggle (no surprise) is integrating the relatively new digital world with pre-digital business necessities. And it’s not the customer-facing digital channels as you might expect. Instead, it’s the internal processes and linkages that offer the largest headaches.

For example, here are leaders’ top four challenges:

  • Service requests require lots of follow-up activities.
  • Processes are not fully covered by IT systems.
  • Integrating channel experiences.
  • Most of customer communication is sent via email.

While these are mostly behind-the-curtain problems, they all have a direct effect on the customer experience.

The list of challenges goes on. And there are no easy answers. A modern customer intelligence solution will address most of the challenges, though – integrating channels, real-time decision making, providing a single view of the customer, etc. – by introducing advanced analytics directly into the data stream.

Almost six in 10 leaders say they understand the link between their customers’ experiences and analytics “extremely well,” but based on the survey results, their ability to create a link between the customer experience and their internal efforts needs the support that analytics can provide.

Sharing data: The path to success

The survey asked leaders how well their organization is able to quickly move data to the most important customer touchpoints. The results are mixed. About a third say their channels are tightly integrated in real time. Nearly half said their channels are pretty integrated but aren’t real-time – a necessity if you want to truly personalize customer experiences.

If you want to improve where your organization is along this information-sharing spectrum, a strong data integration approach is your answer. If your organization is like most, you have more data than you can handle, and data growth rates will not slow soon. Getting the most value out of that data means you need to be able to improve, integrate and analyze the data quickly. Increasingly, the mandate for real-time offers adds even more urgency. It’s no longer about yesterday’s data; it’s about in-the-moment data.

And more data channels are being added constantly. The top data sources according to the survey are:

  • Call center interactions.
  • Website visits.
  • Mobile apps.
  • Email messages.
  • Purchase histories.

Providing relevant insights from this data at customer touchpoints enables a new level of engagement that helps promote customer loyalty and improves brand strength.

Process improvements: Analytics is the way

After customers (because they should always come first), the biggest beneficiaries of advanced analytics adoption are those responsible for managing the customer-related internal processes. It’s a step beyond being data-enabled, because too much data can drag down a process or functional area.

Analytics produces agility. It empowers important organizational functions to streamline processes, make more accurate forecasts, improve reporting and more. According to the survey, here are the top customer-experience-related processes that benefit from analytics:

  • Invoicing/billing.
  • Purchases/transactions.
  • Order acknowledgment/follow-up.
  • Order entry and processing.
  • Product/service innovation and development.
  • Shipping/delivery.

Are you ready?

Nearly all survey respondents said their organizations are sophisticated users of analytics. More than two-thirds felt they also use analytics in a forward-looking (predictive) way.

But the more important question is: What are the most difficult obstacles to surmount? Here are some of the leaders’ concerns:

  • Functional areas with different/unconnected applications and (unshared) data.
  • Legacy systems and processes that don’t scale.
  • Budget limitations.
  • Lack of analytics talent.

In many cases, it comes down to organizational maturity around analytics.

Not sure where your organization lies? You can take this assessment: Marketing Confidence Quotient.

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