Using Social Insights to Improve Customer Experience

The more you know your customer, the better you can serve them.


Yesterday, I stumbled into China Wok with an iPhone in my left hand and an iPad in the right. I had precious little time before my conference call was to begin, and my hurry was obvious from my abrupt entrance. The owner looked up and grinned. She quickly shouted to the cook “Chef Special Pad Thai! No Pork! Double Chicken!” She knew me. She knew who I was, what I wanted and served it up swiftly, with a smile. It was a stellar customer experience and it won’t soon be forgotten.

There’s a warm feeling you get when you walk into a familiar place of business. When the staff knows you by name, greets you with delight and asks if you'd like your usual order, you feel welcome and respected. I've worked in the software industry for some time now. At every company, I've continually wondered how we could provide that "known and valued" feeling to our customers. I've wondered, is there a way to help each customer feel honored, every time they interact with us?

In my last job, I managed a terrific team that monitored the social web for brand mentions. We then routed those social media mentions to the exact employee most able to assist, across departments, functions and geographic regions. As we executed this work, I realized we could be even more effective if we had a total customer relationship view of the person who made the comment.

What I was looking for was a way to identify critical information, across a variety of sources, in order to create a single, authoritative view of a customer. I wanted a "single source of truth" to inform decisions and to power business processes.

You may ask, why would I want to know as much as possible about my customers? For some, the motivation may be to sell them as much as possible. That's actually not what drives me, personally. In my case, I want to provide each customer with the best possible experience.

I believe that the modern customer expects convenience. They do not appreciate being forced to wait. They don’t appreciate feeling treated as a number, forced into a queue, re-authenticated at every transfer and sent into labyrinthine loops of endless decision trees. They want courteous, friendly, personal service.

They want to connect with an employee who is empowered to solve their issue, not to read them a script. The back-end data in many large organizations is in disarray. I’ve heard tales of scattered CRMs, built through acquisitions and left unlinked. I’ve heard laments about CRMs segmented by silos and guarded by political power struggles. Perhaps the sales team has one system, the support team another and marketing, yet another still. In addition, data integrity standards within CRM records are often loosely enforced, or resisted in a passive aggressive way, due to departmental conflicts.

All of these systems have one thing in common: They all hold information about PEOPLE – human beings that must be honored, respected and treated kindly. Without impeccable data management, corporations will not be able to empower their front line effectively to provide the personalized service the modern era requires. In fact, to deliver truly stellar customer experience, you need accurate, consistent and connected customer information across channels, touch points and products.

That's why I'm so excited about Informatica’s Total Customer Relationship (TCR) solution. This solution manages customer information like a strategic asset, thereby fueling applications with clean, consistent and connected customer information. In addition, because I run Social Media, I’m especially interested in a offering called Social360. Social360 can gather and integrate publicly available social media data into your master contact view by leveraging sophisticated identity-resolution capabilities. This allows you to enrich customer information not just with demographic attributes and segmentation, but also with social influence and sentiment.

Customers are flocking to social channels in record numbers. For the first time, more than half of online adults 65+ use Facebook. Customers now initiate hundreds of millions of social conversations with brands each day. They share more data than at any time in history. Today, millions of customers will seek help from brands on social networks. The more you know your customer, the better you can serve them.

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