Obtaining a single view of the customer can be extraordinarily difficult, but it is the only way in which organizations can understand the preferences
and buying habits of their most profitable customers and create a superior experience. Deriving those insights takes more than simply obtaining, collecting and storing information; it means harnessing that information to reveal important patterns in customer behavior, such as which channels customers use to research a product or service, what elements of the purchasing process they find most frustrating, and which combination of price points, promotions and advertising yields the highest conversion rates.
Step 1: Champion the role of translators.
To create optimal customer-centric experiences, business functions must collaborate as a close-knit team. Very often, however, business and IT can face a language barrier. Survey data shows that only one in 10 marketing and IT executives feel their collaboration is at the right level and they often point the finger at the other for the misalignment.1 With customers demanding a seamless experience, organizations need to bridge those divides quickly. That gives CDOs the opportunity to play an especially strategic role – that of intermediary and translator. Their unique combination of technical knowledge, business experience and customer-first sensibility, gives CDOs a special responsibility to forge collaboration and drive a more complete picture of the customer experience. As David Delgado, CDO for Banorte, one of Mexico’s leading financial institutions, said, “The role of chief data officer is to bring
IT and the business together – which is critical for the success of truly transformational analytics.”
Step 2: Remove barriers to data integration.
Getting a 360-degree view of the customer requires organizations to integrate customer data from across the business, but that can be a big undertaking. Many times data is stove-piped in different business units and functions. A global survey reveals that only six percent of marketers have a single view of the customer despite 90 percent saying that it is a priority.2 Creating an effective master data management system is the best place to start. Establishing a single golden record of each customer’s activity can help unleash the power of big data analytics. With that in place, organizations can open up access to users across the business, by layering on analytical engines capable of crunching through millions of customer records within minutes. User-friendly dashboards and customizable templates put the power of advanced analytics within reach of business leaders and product managers across the business.
Step 3: Identify three-to-four core customer journeys.
Understanding what moments of influence are most important in shaping customer perceptions is critically important. This is where customer journeys come into play. Everything from opening a new bank account to setting up a mobile phone to booking a hotel room involves dozens of opportunities to engage with the customer and influence behavior. That sequence of steps, or journey, can help organizations tease out decisive moments. McKinsey research shows that maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.3 And while any one organization may have dozens of customer journeys, the ones that matter most from a customer satisfaction and retention point of view usually number no more than three or four, according to McKinsey.4 By using information analytics, CMOs and CDOs can help organizations identify those journeys and isolate what stages of the buying process are most important to specific customer segments and sub- segments.
Step 4: Look for patterns, not data points.
IBM research finds 91 percent of companies do not know why people leave their sites without converting and 58 percent of companies do not know which usability issues affect conversion. In fact only 26 percent of companies have a well-developed strategy for improving online customer experiences.5 Figuring out why customers behave the way they do requires customer teams to shift the focus away from tracking individual data points, such as the number of unique visitors to a bank’s mortgage page, and focus instead on identifying data patterns, such as the number of applications downloaded and completed from start-to-finish or the areas that prompted potential applicants to turn away. That bigger picture can help a bank identify opportunities to intervene meaningfully. This is where data analytics can play an invaluable role: providing recommendations on the next-best-action to take during any customer interaction; flagging opportunities to address customer dissatisfaction or putting together the right cross-selling offer. Banorte’s David Delgado adds, “As our interactions with customers become much more personalized, and we become more proactive about customer service, we expect loyalty, retention and revenue to grow. We can now create a consistent, near real-time profile of a customer’s account across all channels, and provide a more seamless, satisfying and relevant multichannel experience.”
Step 5: Apply, test and measure.
Creating a differentiating customer experience requires rapid testing and experimentation. Digital leaders often rely on a series of localized pilots, which they run with rigorous tracking and monitoring, often making adjustments in real or near real time then rapidly re-releasing. A cable company looking to improve the quality of its customer onboarding process, for instance, might pilot a new self-service system that gets customers up and running in half the time while giving them greater control over the installation process. Customer response would be tracked closely at each stage and adjustments made on-the-spot to smooth out troublespots and refine service. Once satisfaction levels are within the desired range, digital leaders then scale the pilots into more formal releases. In the same fashion, marketers are using real-time analytics to improve the reach and quality of their digital media campaigns, testing and fine-tuning messaging, channels and frequency until they hit their target mix. Organizations that excel with this type of data-driven marketing are six times more likely than laggards to report achieving competitive advantage in increasing profitability (45 percent vs. 7 percent) and five times more likely to outperform in customer retention (74 percent vs. 13 percent), according to a recent global survey from Forbes.6
1 Accenture, “The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Bridging the Gap to Seize the Digital Opportunity to Improve Customer Experience” August 2013
2 Signal, “Global Survey Finds Only Six Percent of Marketers Have a Single View of the Customer, Despite 90 Percent Reporting It’s a Top Priority” March 2015
3 McKinsey, “The three Cs of customer satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency” March 2014
4 McKinsey, “Identifying the journeys that matter…to the customer” April 2014
5 Smarter Commerce Blog, “Introducing Customer Analytics Solution Patterns to Drive Five Common Business Goals” January 2015
6 Forbes, “New Report Shows Data-Driven Marketing Drives Customer Engagement & Market Growth” January 2015