Council Post: Redefining The Customer Experience With Analytics And Technology In 2022

Redefining The Customer Experience With Analytics And Technology In 2022

2021 was a year of uncertainty, much like the one before. Amid new waves and newer virus variants, customer expectations and preferences continued evolving at a rapid pace. This is resulting in an increasing dissonance between consumers’ expectations and their experience across channels. According to Merkle’s customer sentiment report, 86% of companies believe that they already understand and meet customers’ needs. But only 35% of consumers felt like marketing and advertising met their needs.

To keep up and stay relevant, it is important that businesses reset and recalibrate their understanding of the customer and deliver a superior customer experience. And more importantly, they will need to do so with high agility. As 2022 closes in on us, leading businesses and start-ups will look to redefine the customer experience using analytics and technology. Here’s how:

1. Doubling down on the omnichannel customer experience

Today’s customers interact with businesses across a wide range of channels and touchpoints – mobile app, website, and brick-and-mortar stores, to name a few. Over the past few years, businesses have realised the importance of delivering a seamless experience, regardless of the channel. 

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However, with customer experience being a key differentiator across most industries, there is a need to refocus and double down to meet customer expectations. Here’s where analytics and technology can help. A good example is Sephora, a beauty retailer. Their mobile app leverages location-based technology to recognize when a customer enters a store and provides them with relevant offers and deals. Moreover, while shopping online, their augmented reality feature enables customers to virtually try on their products.

2. Strengthening capabilities in tools and technologies

In an endeavour to reimagine the customer experience, businesses are investing in tools and technologies to understand the customer and make smarter decisions. 

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  • They are leveraging the compute power of cloud technologies, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and deploying analytics for insights. Besides its high compute power, cloud also helps lower cost, improve productivity, and empowers marketers to engage with their customers better.
  • Experience Management platforms, such as Qualtrics and Adobe, enable the integration of customer data across touchpoints and create connected experiences. These platforms can help businesses drive actionable insights and improve and measure customer experience to close any existing gaps by applying concepts of A/B testing and user testing.
  • Amid fast-changing customer preferences, Machine Learning and AI-enabled models are helping businesses stay agile and relevant. Advanced models such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) can analyze large amounts of customer data and give a holistic, 360-degree view of the customer. Moreover, CX leaders have already integrated AI-driven chatbots into their customer service system. In fact, by 2022, chatbots will power approximately 45% of organizations’ customer support services.

Despite these investments, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Businesses are also investing in expertise and skills to make the most out of their investments. Organizations without strong CX or technology in-house teams are outsourcing support from specialized firms to set up their CX programs. 

3. Prioritisation of Voice of Customer (VoC) hubs

A successful customer experience strategy in today’s world comes down to understanding the customer. Luckily for businesses, customers are constantly telling us what they want. Businesses have access to vast amounts of Voice of Customer (VoC) data across multiple touchpoints in a customer journey. This may be in the form of both – structured (customer effort score, product ratings, quantitative surveys, etc.) or unstructured (verbatim surveys, product reviews, chatbot text, call logs, etc.) data sources.

However, despite having access to a gold mine of customer data, many businesses struggle to understand the complex VoC data. According to Forrester, 71% of firms don’t fully aggregate, and mine feedback across surveys and other sources, and 79% don’t quantify the business impact of issues. Leading businesses are prioritizing ‘VoC hubs’ to understand and translate customer feedback into action. These hubs provide a holistic approach right from collection to synthesis to the analysis of customer data.

4. Redefining and evolving measurement for continuous improvement 

In a volatile and unpredictable world, measurement is the compass that helps businesses successfully pivot their CX strategies to meet consumers’ needs. While businesses can no longer afford to sideline CX measurement, many still struggle to do it well. According to a recent Pointillist survey, only 21% of respondents are very or extremely satisfied with their ability to quantify the impact of CX on business metrics.

In 2022, businesses will increasingly seek to move away from fragmented CX programs. CX leaders are investing in tools to help them measure experience across the entire customer journey. However, even before one starts measuring, it is important to:

  • Realign CX goals to business needs and work backwards to determine outcomes needed to reach those goals.
  • Identify metrics that matter. Businesses need to constantly assess and evolve their metrics to suit their goals, for example, the evolution of Overall Satisfaction (OSAT) to Net Promoter Score (NPS) to Customer Effort Score (CES).
  • Redefine realistic benchmarks and targets to be achieved in a predetermined timeframe.

5. Aligning EX and CX programs for real business value

Businesses are increasingly realizing the value that happy and engaged employees add to their CX efforts. A Gallup study found that high workplace engagement contributes to a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. Moreover, ‘Great Resignation’, stemming from the pandemic, has forced employers to rethink, reinvent, and reimagine the workplace experience in the new normal. 

Businesses are starting to understand that EX and CX programs can no longer be viewed in isolation and need to be aligned to reap greater rewards. Several experience management platforms enable stakeholders to visualize and identify links between EX and CX insights to inform their decision making. The bottom line is that EX and CX are valuable but far more powerful when brought together.

6. Focusing on accessible experiences more than ever before

Customers are increasingly seeking businesses that prioritize and offer accessible experiences. To stay competitive and build trust, businesses need to relook their UX design strategy and ensure that all touchpoints across the customer journey are made accessible. In fact, Forrester predicts that $10BN in design spending will shift to vendors and services that commit to accessibility. 

Much to the dismay of many, the outlook for 2022 continues to remain uncertain. The only thing we can be certain of is that customer expectations will continue to evolve and heighten. To survive (and thrive!), businesses will need to sense these evolutions and make data-driven decisions to bridge the experience gap and redefine the customer experience. For 2022 and beyond, customer experience will remain the fast track to customer loyalty and satisfaction, and analytics and technology – the vehicle to help you get there.

This article is written by a member of the AIM Leaders Council. AIM Leaders Council is an invitation-only forum of senior executives in the Data Science and Analytics industry. To check if you are eligible for a membership, please fill the form here.

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by Vijayalakshmi Anandan

The Deep Learning Curve is a technology-based podcast hosted by Vijayalakshmi Anandan - Video Presenter and Podcaster at Analytics India Magazine. This podcast is the narrator's journey of curiosity and discovery in the world of technology.

Sunil Mirani
Sunil Mirani is the Chief Executive Officer of Ugam, a leading analytics and technology services company that delivers impactful business results for large corporations by leveraging data, technology, and expertise. Under the leadership of Sunil, Ugam has grown at an impressive 40%+ revenue CAGR to a team of 3300+ people globally. In 2019, Sunil successfully led the sale of majority stake in Ugam to Merkle, a $1bn global data-driven performance marketing agency, that is part of the $10bn dentsu group.

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