The Importance of A Winning Customer Data Strategy

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I am thrilled to share that I took on the role of hosting Concentrix Catalyst’s digital talk show series, Born Digital, which is pioneering new ways to connect through organic, human-centered, creative content. The show features experts from both Concentrix Catalyst, their partner Adobe, and at least one practitioner living the topic at hand. In each episode, we unpack how today’s best digital experiences are conceived and brought to life.

We’ve filmed two episodes so far. The first one is live, and the second one is in post-production and will be available soon!

I originally wrote today’s article, which highlights some of the things we talked about in that first episode, for Concentrix. It was posted on their site on September 26, 2022.

Customer expectations evolve over time. Today, they demand a greater level of personalization than ever before. They share information with the brands they trust and, in return, expect experiences to be connected between and across channels. Ultimately, they expect companies to know them and to interact with them in ways that reflect an understanding of their needs, their behaviors, and their preferences. Making this work requires a connected customer experience ecosystem that tracks experiences delivered and creates real-time insights to predict and guide each interaction.

That ecosystem is fueled by data. Data is at the heart of designing and delivering a great customer experience, a personalized experience. And there’s one important tool (process) that helps you to better understand the experience today and then design for a better future: journey mapping. More on that in a moment because this all leads us to a very important conversation that I just had with three amazing experts on these topics.

In my first episode of Born Digital, I was joined by three panelists:

  • Mike Evans, Principal Partner Solutions Consultant, Adobe
  • Steven Carleton, former head of CX, Premera Blue Cross and eBay
  • Marko Muellner, head of CX Acceleration, Concentrix Catalyst

We explored strategies to bring customer data together and make it more consumable and usable, and then talked about how to use it to deliver the experience that your customers expect. We covered journey mapping, service blueprinting, centralizing your data, developing a data strategy, and so much more.

I’ll touch on a few things we talked about, but definitely check out the entire episode to hear the details, examples, challenges, and so much more.

It’s All About The Journey

Back to journey mapping. A critical piece of the journey mapping process is to incorporate data into the maps in order to bring the maps to life. Even though you’ve got customers in the journey mapping workshop telling you about what they’re doing, thinking, and feeling as they complete some interaction or transaction with your brand, you’re also going to want to bring other data points into the maps.

Some of the reasons to do that are…

  • Clarify and highlight high points and pain points
  • Identify where to simplify and where to personalize
  • Understand where channel optimization needs to occur
  • Measure and analyze the journey
  • Make the maps actionable
  • Provides validity and credibility
  • Identify key moments of truth
  • Prioritize improvements

During our conversation, Marko shared three key types of data that should be incorporated into the maps, all of which must be contextually relevant to the customer and to the journey the customer is on.

  1. Customer insights data, i.e., what we know about the customer from personas, segmentation, survey data, text and sentiment analytics, CX metrics, and more.
  2. Enterprise data, i.e., the data that we have about our customers, including account data and data about transactions and interactions customers have had with the brand, such as number of site visits, reasons for call, where they went on the site, etc.
  3. Performance data, i.e., data that informs us about how the experience is working today, such as web analytics, shopping cart abandonment, first call resolution, hold time and wait time, etc.

It’s also important to add artifacts the map. Examples of artifacts include videos, screenshots, documents, pictures, receipts, invoices, and call recordings, which all help to further bring the experience to life for those who need to understand it and redefine and design it.

Service Blueprinting: A Helpful Tool For Deeper Understanding

Another powerful part of the journey mapping process is service blueprinting. While journey maps allow us to visualize what the customer is doing, thinking, and feeling, the service blueprint brings us greater understanding (and the ability to dig into root causes of customer pain points) of what we as the brand are doing behind the scenes to create, support, and facilitate the experience the customer is having. You can’t fix what’s happening on the outside, for the customer, if you don’t understand what’s happening inside to create the customer experience. Service blueprints look at the people, tools, systems, policies, and processes that do just that.

Data serves an important role in building out the service blueprint, as well, as it brings the behind-the-scenes experience to life and helps to highlight where things are going well or aren’t, where things are taking too much time, where there are inefficiencies, etc.

Build A Solid CX Foundation With A Customer Data Strategy

To reiterate, without data it will be impossible to deliver the experience customers desire or deserve. At the root of that, you’ll need a solid customer data strategy as a foundational element to your customer understanding work. What does that mean? And what does that entail?

Gartner defines a data strategy as “a highly dynamic process employed to support the acquisition, organization, analysis, and delivery of data in support of business objectives.” Possibly a simpler way to think of it is the culture, people, systems, and processes needed for – or associated with – managing and utilizing your customer data. It’s important to have such a strategy in order to support the goals of the business and to aid with decision making. Sadly, many organizations don’t have a customer data strategy.

Think about the journey mapping process I wrote about earlier. It’s great to think that you can just take that map and add some data to it and, voila, you’ll deliver a better experience. But it doesn’t work that way. A challenge for many companies is that they don’t even know what data they have or how to easily centralize and access it. The data strategy can get you down that path and will take into account the different ways the data will be used, including incorporating it into maps and blueprints tasked with helping to design and deliver a great customer experience in the future.

My guests on this latest Born Digital episode talk about what it takes to create a data strategy and how it supports creating connected and personalized experiences that deliver value for your customers over the life of their relationship with your brand. You can check out that episode here.

Those companies that view data as a strategic asset are the ones that will survive and thrive. ~ Bernard Marr

Image courtesy of Concentrix/Born Digital.

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