7 Steps to Customer Experience Excellence

Customer experience is the new currency of business competition. Failing to create a single, authoritative view of customer data is a fatal flaw—without it, you will never root out the causes of bad customer experiences.

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Customer experience is the new currency of business competition, and proof of this is easy to find. The companies favored today by your friends, family, and colleagues—and no doubt, yourself—confirm a new truth: Great customer experiences win the market.

  • Uber, a software company, is killing it in the taxi industry because it creates a seamless transaction to get from one place to another. It knows who you are and where you are, gives you accurate driver information that’s updated constantly, and eliminates the hassle of on-site payment.
  • Amazon continues to disrupt the retail marketplace because it works hard to learn more about the things you like and need—then not only makes it easy for you to buy them, but also to receive them.
  • Netflix keeps evolving and innovating by improving its personalization and recommendations, beating the competition and making it effortless for customers to find the entertainment they want. 

There are similar examples of digital disruption in every industry, and they all have one thing in common: creating a great customer experience. And, great customer experiences start with great customer data.

Failing to focus on data

The disruptive influence of these bar-raising companies affects customer expectations as well as customer experience. Today’s consumers expect their business interactions to be fluid, frictionless, and channel agnostic. Thus, companies need to invest in a 360-degree view of the customer.

Recognizing this new reality, many companies have tried to do exactly that. Unfortunately, most have failed. They’ve failed because the problem is complex, their data is despairingly fragmented, and the technologies keep changing. But mostly, they have failed because they focus entirely on their specific end goals rather than doing something about the overall quality of their data.

It’s easy to understand why. End goals give results. They deliver the “sizzle” that moves the business forward. By contrast, the ins and outs of managing data can seem boring or technical. However, failing to create a single, authoritative view of customer data is a fatal flaw because without it, you will never root out the causes of bad customer experiences.

Not the rewards you were looking for

Bad customer experience happens all the time. During a recent business trip, I arrived at my hotel to find the front desk unable to locate my reservation. After much effort on my part to confirm my valid reservation, I began to doubt that the reservation existed; and then the receptionist found it under my maiden name, Monica Smith.

This problem occurred because the hotel has not mastered its data to reconcile name changes for its rewards member accounts. Instead of updating its records to reflect my choice of name, it reverted my reservation to a name I no longer use, and inconvenienced me in the process. Worse yet, the hotel did nothing to prevent this from happening again. They lost the opportunity to correct the name on my account, confirm my contact information, and win me back by recognizing past loyalty. Instead, the experience was reduced to an impersonal transaction. The promise of friction in any new interactions with this hotel brand will most certainly influence my choices in the future.

This type of data fragmentation problem is widespread. You could tackle it with a specific effort to reconcile the information in two systems—in this example, the reservations and rewards systems—but this would do nothing to solve symptoms of data fragmentation elsewhere in the customer experience lifecycle.

Strategic data management, on the other hand, eliminates the root causes of bad experiences, delivering irrefutable business value.  The benefits of end-to-end data management reported by our customers include:

  • 30 percent boost in marketing campaign effectiveness
  • 20 percent improved lead-to-opportunity conversion rates
  • 20 percent increased spend from loyalty members
  • 60 percent improved upsell and cross-sell success

Because data is at the heart of every business system, data management can seem daunting. The trick is to stop focusing on complexity. Put as simply as possible, here are the seven things you need to do with your data:

1.       Connect it - Locate the applications across your business that have critical customer data, such as SAP, Salesforce, and Marketo. This may be as few as five systems or as many as 70. 

2.       Clean it - Standardize and validate your data by correcting inaccuracies, resolving conflicts, confirming email addresses and zip codes, and fixing incomplete fields.

3.       Master it - Identify duplicates and consolidate them to create a single, trusted customer profile. This is your foundation, but don’t stop there.

4.       Enrich it - Add third-party data, including education, occupation, interests, social, and market data; for B2B profiles, add corporate information, such as industry codes and executives from Dun & Bradstreet.

5.       Relate it - Link the customer profile to everything else it relates to, such as other household members, the products and services purchased, the channels used, the employees worked with, etc.; or for B2B, relate each division to the corporate entity.

6.       Share it - Deliver the trusted and relevant information back to the people, processes, and applications that need it. Now, everyone everywhere is working with the same data.

7.       Govern it - Proactively guide the way your data is managed and used so it remains clean and safe to stay compliant, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and grow your business.

It’s as simple as that. And, while it can’t be done in a day, a clear vision of what needs to be done means you’ll avoid the missteps of every company that’s tried and failed.

To learn more about the seven steps of customer readiness, download our eBook, “Mastering the Chaos of Customer Experience.”

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.