It Takes Data to Delight Your Customers

Digital transformation
It Takes Data to Delight Your Customers

Digital transformation is what everybody wants, but there are many views on what constitutes a “digital transformation.” Is it online services? Is it a social enterprise? Is it legacy transformation? Is it an analytics-driven enterprise?

The definition of digital enterprise may be all of the above, or maybe one of the above. What really matters in the end, however, is one thing and one thing only: whether the digital effort is delighting the customer and encourages him or her to keep on doing business with you.

It takes data — delivered at the right time, in the right way and in the right format — to be able to realize this goal, as explored in a recent report from Forbes Insights. “It is by pulling together high-quality data on customers from multiple sources, and capturing insights from advanced analytics and software tools, that customer engagement can be transformed across digital touchpoints,” the report further states “The goals of digital transformation of customer engagement — the hyper-personalization, relevancy, real-time feedback and on-the-fly agility are not attainable without access to relevant data available at the right time.”

The need is urgent, as it is estimated that demand for digital-related services will account for more than 70% of all external services growth, and within the year, revenue growth from data-based products will be double that of the rest of the product or service portfolios for one-third of all Fortune 500 companies. Many organizations are having difficulties joining this movement, however, as they may be encumbered by “the sheer volume of data in organizations that might have decades-long histories, as well as the dispersal of that data—in multiple CRMs, on spreadsheets, in filing cabinets— much of it conflicting, incomplete, inaccurate or otherwise untrustworthy.”

The Forbes report outlines three strategies that need to be the cornerstone of any digital transformation strategy:

Build a single view of your customer: A “single view of the customer” has been the Holy Grail of data, systems and application integration initiatives for many years now, seen in such initiatives as data warehousing and master data management. These efforts are required to be augmented by the wealth of external data now available. Enterprises need to start off by “inventorying and cataloging data, whether it is in a spreadsheet or a CRM system, and assessing it according to its completeness, accuracy and trustworthiness, as well as where it needs to be enriched by external data sets.” Relevant data may include purchase histories, communication preferences, purchase power, shopping behavior and social media activities. This requires synthesizing “structured data (addresses, household composition, socio-economic bracket, etc.) with unstructured data (like the free-form text of a Twitter feed). Doing so requires systems and processes that can handle both kinds of data, pulling together historical information along with the real-time data being generated by customers’ real-world activities.”

Use location data to add precision and context: “In a mobile world, it’s no longer enough to know who your customers are; you also need to know where they are in order to deliver a real hyper-personalized and responsive experience,” the report advises. Customer location needs to be captured within two contexts– their physical location and their digital presence such as social media usage. “Location helps to provide an important context by which to align data. For example, if a business experiences a sudden spike in returns of a faulty product, they may understand there is a problem but not what’s causing it. However, if they can see that the returns are predominantly confined to a geographical region, that may reveal a problem relating to temperature or humidity— two elements that may be affecting their product in a specific way.”

Create relevant communications at the right time on the right channel: As data reveals important details about customers, it’s important to then be able to engage them through multiple points of conversation. This requires “the use of data to inform personalization preferences around channel and device, to understand response rates at different times or days of the week, and how to devise an optimal channel mix for your audience.” It’s important to note that “sending information via a new channel requires more than simply digitizing it,” the report cautions. “Think about how unwieldy it is to view a PDF copy of a phone bill on a mobile screen that requires pinching and zooming to navigate it. Digital transformation requires a rethinking of the process, in a way that best serves the customer in the channel they are using. In the PDF example, that might mean prioritizing the important information— how much is owed, what the usage and due dates are, perhaps— and making interaction, such as paying the bill, frictionless.”