Improving Customer Interactions by Bridging the Business Intelligence Gap

In almost every business, it is important to understand exactly how customers interact with a company, whether it is at a physical point of sale, marketing or ongoing customer service.

This knowledge is especially important with organizations that utilize an omnichannel strategy, where that interaction can take many different forms, including phone calls, catalogs, web sites, face-to-face sales, etc. It can be a complex process, one that global enterprises spend billions of dollars a year to understand.

Which customers find it easier to buy online? How efficiently does customer service deal with specific complaints? Do the same issues arise over and over and, if so, why?  With the answers to these questions, back office management can not only improve the customer experience but also streamline internal process, cut unnecessary costs and improve communication in many different ways.

Recent advancements in technology make that information available today. In most organizations, data from almost every customer interaction are captured electronically on the front end, whether it through a web site or an employee entering in information.  The resulting “Big Data Revolution” means that businesses can now measure virtually anything they wish.

By taking a more strategic approach and intelligently integrating customer interactions across the enterprise, managers can use that data to more easily expose key areas of improvement and pinpoint “gold standard” behaviors that result in increased revenue per transaction and positive long-term customer-focused trends.

Before a business can transition to this model, however, there are challenges that must be understood and overcome. Having metrics for practically any function within the business group doesn’t translate into having clarity to make the most effective or positive decisions. To gain a clear understanding of the customer journey, it’s important to interweave key data points that are meaningful and relevant within the context of the service experience.

The first step is to get to the core of the customer experience and ask some basic questions. While these can differ depending on the nature of the business, some common examples include:

  • What are employees doing during typical customer interactions? Are they following proper procedures and policies? Are they using all of the tools available to them?
  • Is staffing adequate? Are there times when there are too few or too many employees? Are those times consistent or predictable?
  • How much effort goes into servicing a customer request? Are customers or employees taking unnecessary steps?
  • Are there common roadblocks that can be removed from the customer interaction?
  • Are there are any best practices being used by some employees that might benefit everyone else?
  • Do high value customers receive a differentiated experience?
  • Are mobile initiatives delivering on established goals?
  • Does the customer service level need to change over the lifecycle of the customer relationship?

At this point, it is important to ensure every customer interaction is taken into consideration. How do customer interactions differ between channels such as the web site versus in store sales? Which tools are they using and which are they not? Having the right data is important, but knowing how your organization intends to use this data to improve the experience is critical.

In developing these parameters, managers should ask themselves, how would this intelligence change the way the enterprise runs? Will it have an impact on overall financial or business performance? The goal is to dissect and disseminate data intelligently, providing managers with the answers to all of these questions. Collected during long periods of time, this information provides an invaluable view of the customer’s journey and enables managers to better plan human resource, technology and process changes more efficiently.

It will also directly influence the company’s omnichannel strategy by continually identifying the strengths and weaknesses of every possible customer interaction. Managers can then allocate resources more effectively and efficiently based on need and relevance. Intelligence collected from all customer activities will deliver a broad dataset that can be used to expose key areas of improvement, leading to increased revenue per transaction. However, keep in mind that not all channels are equal, and that it is important to identify which ones are best for you and your customer.

This improved alignment between channels will deliver long term and continuous improvement. Using the right data, businesses can implement a number of initiatives designed to improve profitability and productivity, including:

  • Testing – through controlled experiments – changes to the business that increases confidence in projected impacts.
  • The ability to easily and quickly course correct when common issues arise. It is easier to understand what is working or not working and make adjustments early to stay on the desired success path.
  • Reducing risk and exposure when managing major, or even minor, changes.
  • Enhancing customer intelligence and refining segmentation for more effective selling and increased revenue generation.
  • Maximizing new product and service development initiatives.
  • Driving employee engagement by understanding the best employee behaviors that generate the highest performance and eliminating unnecessary hurdles

Having this level of interaction intelligence can empower an organization to be a more customer-centric, competitive enterprise by driving change that improves the customer’s experience at every point.

Anna Convery is CMO and EVP of Strategy for OpenSpan