“It’s an interesting time to study and talk about customer experience because there’s still no one size fits all approach,” says Blake Morgan, a Forbes contributor. “In fact most people don’t even agree on who should drive customer experience, let alone ‘own’ it.”
Offering CX is the number one priority for companies across the country, according to a global survey of more than 6,000 business and tech leaders conducted by Forrester.
Closing the Gap is Part Art, Part Science — but Mostly Science
Collecting the necessary data and then actually using it to influence CX decisions is a wide gap that exists across the field no matter what industry. Within this big and shapeless data conversation that is happening in and out of CX from marketing and sales to HR and legal, making decisions based on data from a spreadsheet is not as easy as it may seem nor as straightforward.
“The ability to collect data has increased over the past few years, we’ve experienced a gap in being able to digest, collate, and ultimately, activate upon insights from this data — it’s almost as if companies are experiencing the same ‘data overload’ that consumers experience in the execution (mass emails, irrelevant promotions, etc.),” Emilie Kroner of Mastercard told us.
“The balance of art and science in consumer experience data are clearly tilting to the science — with more systems than ever becoming collection points,” says Kroner.
According to Kroner, data collection from customer experiences starts from that very first customer interaction. Below is an example data collection path that highlights the various ways companies may choose to collect data. During each one of the following touch points, decisions can be derived from the experience to tweak further and refine it.
Collection Point #1: You’re on a weekend getaway in a new town you’ve never been to before. Seeking a great local restaurant to enjoy dinner, you browse online. This first collection point gathers browser and clickstream data, and now the merchant knows more about your online browsing behavior.
Collection Point #2: You make a decision and book a reservation at an online reservation system, such as OpenTable. This is collection point number two that gathers time, date, and merchant choice data.
Collection Point #3: You arrive at the restaurant, enjoy your meal, and sign-up to join the loyalty program. Now, you have a purchase history, and the company has your personal data to tie transactions to and potentially demographic data.
Collection Point #4: Your dining experience has concluded, and you are provided with a survey gauging your experience). The survey or email asks about your experience with an objective to capture customer experience (such as NPS) or qualitative feedback.
This is often where the art part of crafting a rich experience tends to fall flat. The data has been collected, and more often than not, sits in a massive system (or more likely many systems!) collecting dust.
“Unfortunately, the activation on the data is the hard part, and often there is limited activation on the back end to influence consumers or driving the insights into new business processes or decisions,” says Kroner, who factors it down to one of the three following deficiencies when the experience falls short:
- Failure of systems to be properly integrated into a single customer view
- Lack of analytical talent to derive insights from the data
- Lack of executive support to action against the learnings
Rich experiences can come in all shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is the follow through from data collection to influencing decisions. Improving or enhancing experience starts by collecting data and is completed when it’s put to action and the customer is impacted.
Consistency — What You Need to Build Rich Experiences for Your Customers
One core resource that is critical to offering a consistently on-brand and ultimately revenue driving experiences to your customers begins with integration.
Kroner suggests designating a champion or sponsor of CX in each department that agrees to participate in a cross-business working group to deeply examine and analyze the current state of the experience the company is offering. This group can be strategically built with a variety of experts from analytics, business intelligence, sales, and of course, Customer Experience professionals.
Once designated within the organization, the group’s sole focus should be on crafting and refining effective customer experiences. These experiences should be closely aligned with the organization’s target customer and customer feedback over time, and as such, integrated within the business. To move successfully forward with CX-based initiatives, they must be executed in parallel to business strategies and plans.
Learning what do from a spreadsheet to making a concrete decision is the key to making big shifts in experience backed by data. With the big data market worth around $136 billion, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), it is imperative business leaders invest in learning how to provide context to the data that is pouring in as most professionals are drowning in data they don’t know what to do with. The demand for expanding skill sets in a single professional or a wearer of many hats has never been greater.
Delivering on consistently rich experiences and counting CX as a revenue generator, a value proposition, and a key driver to trigger loyalty and retention, means getting the insights and the application down pat. Without a bulletproof eyes-closed understanding, “organizations will fail to realize the value from such rich resource,” writes Carlos Hidalgo, the founder, and CEO of VisumCx, a customer experience strategy firm.
Register for our upcoming customer experience webinar on October 3 from 1-2 p.m. EDT alongside experts like Emilie Kroner of Mastercard, AlienVault, and OpenWater.