CX and Data: The Perfect Partnership


As data continues its path toward being both a tradable commodity and a valuable business asset, the opportunities for companies to effectively leverage the actionable insights at their fingertips becomes ever more acute. The connected society has built a digital world that consumers and companies actively seek out, creating an engagement experience that is often the differentiator between what works well and, importantly, what leaves the end user unsatisfied.

In the last decade, the shift from software to data being the platform on which business optimization strategies are built has been steadily accelerating. Companies covet data and analytical capabilities, often relying on a combination of the two to understand what the customer wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. And while predicting customer preferences can sometimes be an inexact science, the rewards are tangible.

We should also remember that data collection is not a product of digitalization. Actionable insights have always been available to decision makers, but the difference between the tools of the past, like surveys, focus groups, and market research, and the customer-focused solutions of today is that the bar has been raised in terms of how, why. and when a person will engage.

A recent report from Gartner said there is a defined shift toward technologies that are focused on the customer. The analyst noted that decision makers must at a bare minimum be aware of how their customers engage across the digital channels available, a strategy that is expected to see increased investment into customer service and support solutions over the next two years.

A customer journey, for example, is the perfect place to start integrating elements like artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics, Gartner said. This becomes even more important when you consider the actionable insights that can be gleaned from data-driven customer behavior. The caveat is that the amount of data that is available and the effective leveraging of that data are rarely aligned.

Of course, efficient customer service should be at the top of the list for any company. The challenge that many businesses face is that the actual experience depends entirely on what the customer needs at any given moment in time. A good engagement reflects well on the company, a poor one can be detrimental on so many levels.

For that reason alone, there is an argument that decision makers should consider what they as consumers themselves expect from the companies that are part of their personal customer journeys. And while this seems obvious, it is critical when you factor in the convergence of physical customer touchpoints and digital channels.

Digital transformation, for instance, has flagged up not only why customer service matters but also the impact of getting it wrong. If we take this one step further, the information that can be gleaned from these defined and digital touch points must be leveraged accurately and for the right reasons.

Do you know what makes your customers buy your products and services? What are their favored engagement channels? How many customers are classified as satisfied vs. unsatisfied? Does data give you a competitive advantage and do you know how to use it?

The answers to these questions might not give you the full picture, but simply acknowledging that actionable insights will provide you with the means to deliver what the customer wants can be a vital part of the overall service and engagement conundrum.

Relevant Questions = Right Insights

A company's reputation and continued consumer awareness is built on customer service. A product might be the original engagement vehicle, but the overall customer experience (CX) is what keeps people coming back for more.

Unsurprisingly, that means that analyzing CX and visualizing exactly where the customer is becomes a required element for success. Engagement is not simply being aware of the customer; instead the data generated allows for the identification of patterns or trends, provides access to customer feedback, improves service, and eliminates guesswork. The key part to remember is that the data is there is help you succeed.

Customer feedback, for instance, should be one of the main building blocks for a better overall journey. Companies that don't take all the potential experiences into account when designing a product are missing an opportunity for continuous improvement. In addition, decision makers should step into the shoes of a customer and replicate the experience for themselves.

Being able to leverage all the information that is available is essential to a successful business optimization strategy. Data and analytics can (according to a Salesforce blog) provide insights that pinpoint opportunities and critical issues, build customer satisfaction, build communities, understand workloads, and improve service efficiencies.

And while asking the right questions at the right time and knowing what you want for the business, where and how you are gathering data, the allocation of responsibility for customer insights (and service), effective outreach to a target audience are all part of why CX solution adoption rates have increased in recent years. Knowing that these questions or insights matter is vital.

With data now an accepted part of how companies engage, react, and innovate, it would be reasonable to assume that these actionable insights are merely part of a company's toolbox.

Sadly, getting the perfect blend of impactful customer experience and effective customer service is still a challenge. The digitalization of society has made a difference, but the move toward a customer-orientated workflow is still a work-in-progress for companies of all sizes.

Brand loyalty is not something that can be acquired overnight, it takes work. The barometer for success is always going to be customer satisfaction, and the data-centric global village that we live in makes it even harder for companies to retain or attract customers if the experience is lacking.

What matters is not only how you use the data that is out there, but also where you engage. The connected society runs 24/7, and so does the customer experience.

Praveen Kumar is a data architect at Infostretch. Thanneermalai Krishnappan is a technical program manager at Saggezza, an Infostretch company.