Any company will tell you that they know who their customers are. But how true is this? Everyone’s perspective of their customers is based on their own department’s data. The departments mostly dealing with customers would be marketing, sales and customer service – and they all serve customers differently.
(For more discussions on digital customer experience, join our Customer Experience Conference 2015, 11-12 March.)
To simplify, we can say that marketing cares about promoting, while sales focuses on numbers, and customer service focuses on providing necessary support. As such, each department is handling different types of customer data. Hence, it’s easy for customer data to get stuck in silos.
In addition, it is quite common for each department to have their customer’s data stored in their own ERP or database, and often there are no bridges made between the systems to ease transfer of information. For years, organisations across the globe have accumulated huge amounts of customer data, but from my observation, data are dramatically under-exploited: Tapping into existing data would bring the customer relationship and experience to a higher level and ultimately generate more revenue.
However, only a few big companies have made significant use of customer data. This is due to the fact that organisations are lacking the expertise to educate internally on the benefits of a cohesive customer view, and they lack that “central figure” who knows the business well enough and at the same time knows how to understand data to translate it for business usage.
The cohesive view of the customer has to be simple and readable
Customers tend to have high expectations of what and how an organisation should be able to serve them. Concepts such as “Big Data” are only adding to expectations. However, in my experience, while customers are constantly giving out data to organisations, they rarely see a tangible return on what they’ve shared.
When it comes to technology, we need to start small, experiment and learn along the way. Using new generation BI solutions that allow us to visualise data is a good starting point. This allows us to quickly check if we are going in the right direction, before eventually getting more people involved in what then becomes a business transformation.
Management needs to press staff members to build a cohesive view of the customer. After that, it’s important not to be overwhelmed with data and get swamped with it. Finding the right person with the right skills and knowledge is absolutely critical.
The writer is Pascal Ly, former head of digital customer experience, Schneider Electric.
Along with representatives of brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Subway and Toys “R” Us, Ly will be speaking about customer experience management at Marketing magazine’s Customer Experience 2015 conference, happening 11 – 12 March.
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