When customers show interest in a specific brand, the main driver is typically the experience offered by the brand. However, sometimes, the brands themselves do not match up to the experiential expectations of consumers. Most companies have already realised this gap and have consequently made improving customer experience their top priority.
Improving customer experience rests upon a basic assumption which sounds simple, but is often not realised – brands really need to understand their customers! To make this happen, brands fundamentally need to rethink their data strategies. This is also reflected in the latest industry trends worldwide. As per a recent global survey of client-side marketers conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, 65% of the respondents indicated that customer experience can be enhanced through insights obtained through improved data analysis.
Data helps enhance the customer experience
Today, while organisations are increasingly data-driven, it is important that their strategic objectives and strategies are aligned to drive an effective customer experience. Brands need to keep the following factors in mind while developing a data-driven customer strategy:
Define high priority customer-centric objectives upfront
It is important to first clearly articulate and prioritise the key objectives that must be achieved in order to draft a successful strategy. Here, it is critical that these objectives track the relevant KPIs that have a direct impact on improving customer experience. These should not be confused with enterprise KPIs like increasing the revenues, profitability, market share, etc. as they are not directly related to customer experience. Stakeholders, especially from outward-bound functions like marketing and customer services, should also have a say in defining the objectives. For example, some KPIs that have a clear correlation with customer experience is customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer lifetime value (CLTV), customer effort score (CES), net promoter score (NPS) and redemption rate (RR) for those enterprises with a loyalty program.
Focus on key customer experiences that will help realise your objectives
The next step, after defining the key objectives, is to draw up a detailed customer journey map and decide the specific stages within the customer journey that need focus. A thorough analysis of discrete data repositories containing CRM data, transaction histories, customer service interactions, etc. would also help identify potential problem areas like incomplete customer registrations, abandoned shopping carts or repeat customer complaints that may point to specific stages that need focus. For example, if maximising CLTV is a key objective and order management is a stage within the customer journey that’s of focus, then the checkout process can be optimised with the use of a seamless, one-click order management facility.
Develop a strong customer management plan
It is generally assumed that by having continuous communication with customers over a prolonged period, brands can better understand their behaviour and preferences. However, this may not always be the case because if brands send irrelevant information, however well-intentioned, they may actually be irritating their customers. Take for example the irrelevance of a vegetarian receiving a 50% off coupon from their favourite hotel chain, asking them to try out their new seafood restaurant. Or, a beach lover (who hates heights) being thanked for their loyalty with an offering of a two-night complimentary stay at a mountain resort! An effective communication plan must be based on a comprehensive data analysis of the buying patterns of their customers over a prolonged period. Additionally, mapping customers into personas via sophisticated analytical models based on past purchases and brand interaction patterns can also prove to be a useful tactic.
In today’s fast-changing world, it is imperative for brands to rapidly translate their customer insights into actions, lest they lose the business opportunity. A number of real-time analytics platforms can enable this. However, the medium of communication to customers should always be through their preferred channel of choice. Also, assessing the impact of this communication is equally important to potentially recalibrate the entire process, supported by feedback.
Hence, sending the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, on the right channel is one of the best things that can be done to improve the customer experience
The benefits of an elevated quality of customer experience cannot be underestimated. It has a direct impact on the long-term growth of brands and can affect its sales, profits and reputation. By strategically leveraging existing data assets, brands can significantly transform their customer engagement strategies while driving greater advocacy and brand loyalty.
Govind Seshadri is the Vice President, Technology at Epsilon
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Govind Seshadri is the Vice President, Technology at Epsilon. He is a seasoned technology executive with over 25 years of industry experience including 17 in the US. Before joining Epsilon, Govind spent 3 fast-paced years immersed in the Indian tech startup scene in key leadership roles.