Personalisation a key differentiator in customer service
The competitive marketplace and economic climate are making it more difficult for organisations to obtain customer loyalty. Customers are now demanding much better customer service, improved value and personal attention. It is, therefore, becoming imperative for companies to create the ability to engage in intelligent conversations with their customers and this means creating a seamless, integrated customer experience across all interaction channels and then connecting it back to your strategy.
The 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report showed that as much as 72.4% of the South African response base believe that analytics is a leading factor in developing customer experience. That said, while 50% of respondents state they are personalising service based on prioritising service channels, only 25.6% believe they can provide a customised customer experience based on the customer’s profile. Additionally, 24.5% of local respondents state that they cannot track the customer journey.
This does not necessarily speak to capability as a reason, but rather a more conservative approach with regards to adoption and, potentially, a lag in embracing the hype cycle.
We know that experience drives loyalty and loyalty drives promotion. Promotion drives acquisition, which in turn drives revenue. Experience and loyalty ultimately drive retention and profitable growth, which is the utopia of business value. By collecting customer data from a variety of sources, organisations can develop a much deeper understanding of each customer. It also involves segmentation and personalisation. By identifying the company’s most profitable customers and segmenting them into groups based on marketable criteria, an organisation can find ways to personalise contact and interaction with their customers.
Purely having an integrated view of the customer isn’t enough. Companies have to include effective segmentation principles and introduce personalisation. Then they need to integrate usable customer insights into their strategic and operational model to drive true business value.
Integrating disparate customer data
Establishing a single view of the customer is one of the primary challenges affecting executives today. This challenge has existed for years but is even more difficult to address today as the Web and a multitude of web-based applications have emerged as other channels in which customers can interact with the company.
The biggest issue is the lack of data integration across multiple disparate sources of information. Many leading companies are solving this issue with the use of a data warehouse. Conceptually it’s an application that provides for the extraction, transformation and storage of data from multiple disparate sources into a common platform, including various forms of transactional and operational data from a variety of sources. This data is extracted and loaded into a data warehouse and consolidated into a consistent form and format. Data in the data warehouse can then be analysed to provide a more complete and consistent view of customers.
Much like CRM applications, data warehousing has gone through numerous stages over the years. The current and ongoing stage of development encompasses the Integrated View of the Customer. It provides for the integration of data about the customer across contact channels and product lines and is essential to creating the type of integrated view of the customers that is critical to understanding their patterns of behaviour. It doesn’t end there, however. Collecting critical data is only part of the battle. How you act on that data and what you do with it is what drives business value. By turning the date into usable customer insights, organisations can drive more informed conversations with their customers.
While customer segmentation is not new, but it is evolving, changing how and to what degree you segment your customer base will make your targeting more accurate and how you react to your customer more appropriate.
Data warehousing has been also available for several decades, but until recently there only a few tools, outside of CRM applications, which could provide a user-friendly way to gain valuable customer insight. Traditional methods of data extraction to build usable customer insights was slow, inefficient and not conducive to the organisation.
Today, there are a number of user-friendly analytical and data mining tools that allow end users to analyse data from large databases and create customer segmentation based on a broader range of criteria. Using this data, the company can then develop a strategy for managing and interacting with these customer segments.
Once a company has a more integrated view of the customer and is able to segment their customers to develop their customer strategy, they need to focus on doing what is necessary to create a positive customer interaction with the company, in other words, personalise that engagement.
Leading companies realise that harvesting and collecting data, as well as mining the data, plays a crucial role in customer interaction, and are they converting this data into meaningful insights that are vital to making a customers’ experience with the company a positive one. These companies also understand the value in linking their sales, customer service and marketing departments, and the important role this plays in interacting with the customer.
This type of transaction also holds true for contact centre representatives who receive a call from a customer. Based on data about previous transactions by that customer, the contact centre representative is better prepared and can provide the individual with the product or service they would be most interested in buying. It also allows opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling. The more you know about a customer, the better the customer interaction will lead to a win-win situation for both parties.
Many companies are already employing such personalised conversations with customers and are realising the benefits from it. These organisations are also implementing measurement mechanisms that enable them to understand how effective these conversations are at any given time, allowing them to make adjustments, both in real-time and to future efforts, to improve them.
The most progressive companies have found that segmentation, combined with interactions that are tailored to the need and behaviour of each segment are much more effective in capturing customers’ attention in today’s marketplace.