The digital world we live in has given people access to information, instantaneously and it has changed the way we communicate, buy things, go about our work life and manage our home life. Just about everything is connected, we are seemingly always online and our brains are constantly processing a barrage of information.
Whether this is a good thing on a personal level is to be debated, but for businesses it represents a massive customer service opportunity. There is no shortage of customer data available, yet few businesses are really using it and as a result they are missing out on an opportunity to engage with customers.
While many businesses are aware that this information is available, there are a number of obstacles that that are hindering progress in terms of using the data to improve customer service.
1. Poor analysis of data
Using more traditional analytics and human processing is slow compared to artificial intelligence and machine learning. This single factor is set to revolutionise the business environment.
Most companies today take at least a week to process data, whereas machine learning can complete the same tasks, more accurately, within minutes. But without investing in technology and algorithms, businesses won’t be able to take advantage of this warp speed processing.
2. Analytics under-valued
Data is set to become a strategic asset, yet because to date analytics have not been effectively processed they are not always prioritised within organisations as tools to help improve systems, training, employee and customer engagement.
Despite the trend, research suggests that only 38% of CEO’s say that customer analytics have yielded significant bottom line benefits to their organization. And this is reflected in the low levels of investment in more advanced analytics technology.
3. Lack of system integration
Even if machine learning is being utilized to some degree or another, this information is often not filtering back to marketing, sales and customer service divisions within an organisation. Despite the availability of metrics from contact centres, social media and sales and marketing departments, only 8-10% of companies are using this data.
To make matters worse, what information is collected is stored and filed away instead of being integrated with CRM & HRM systems so that the people interfacing with customers have more information at their fingertips.
The case for digital leveraged customer service
Organisations such as Uber and Airbnb are relative newcomers in the business world, yet have snatched up a large portion of market share in a relatively short space of time. Uber is the largest taxi service worldwide, yet they don’t own a single vehicle. Airbnb has more rooms than Hilton Hotels who have been in the hospitality industry for more than 90 years, yet they too, don’t own a single property.
How have these organisations managed to leverage market share? They have embraced digital technology to leverage customer analytics.
Without being encumbered by overheads and organisational red tape, they have been able to offer competitive pricing and have won customers over with their customer centric approach. They have been able to achieve this because they know their customers so well. They have used customer analytics to engage with customers and give them exactly what they want, when and how they want it.
Embracing analytics for improved customer engagement
Many organizations simply don’t know where to start in order to leverage the digital technology that is now becoming available. At the same time they are weary to make large investments in technology without having a clear strategy of how it will deliver a return on investment.
From a customer engagement perspective, there are a few areas that companies could focus on:
1. Leveraging social media
Social media platforms already have detailed user analytics and companies can leverage these to create a baseline for customer insights. Once target segments have been identified, it provides a blueprint for expanding on customer analytics using more advanced digital customer analytics tools. Whatever technology is used should be able to integrate with social media so that this information can be incorporated into customer data.
2. Understanding customer trends
Personalisation is the big buzz word in customer service. By understanding these trends provides a target point for gathering and analyzing data and feeding it back to customer interfacing systems and divisions. If customers are after personalisation, how can a company leverage the data they have, to improve the customer experience so that it is more personalized?
3. Using machine learning
The simple truth is that machines are far more efficient at crunching data than humans. Organisations will need to invest in technology to stay ahead. By knowing what customer insights are most important, data sets can be targeted that will provide the right information to improve customer engagement.
Carolyn Blunt is managing director of Ember Real Results, an organisation within the expert customer management consultancy Ember Group and that works with contact centres to improve performance through world-class training, coaching and learning. Carolyn is co-author of the book ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ published by Wiley.