Why brands are desperate to overhaul outdated customer data strategies.


Today’s customer experience data programmes are not fit for purpose, with nearly 75% of brands seeking to alter their CX data strategy due to changes in customer needs and inadequate infrastructure.

Customer experience leaders are desperate to improve their strategic use of customer data, with many CX data programmes not fit for purpose, according to new research from the Harvard Business Review. It was discovered that there is a huge disconnect between what companies consider important uses of customer data, and what they are capable of doing with that data.

Whilst the vast majority of those surveyed understood the importance and benefits of customer data, most brands further agreed that their existing programmes were not up to scratch. Here are a few key stats:

  • 71% of brands looking to alter their CX data strategies.
  • Virtually all (99%) of respondents admitted that to remain competitive in their industry, it is very important or extremely important that their organisation integrates customer data into their business processes.
  • However, only 2% say they do this extremely successfully, and only 17% do this very successfully.
  • Moreover, the vast majority (94%) of respondents say being able to quickly adapt the customer experience strategy based on up-to-date customer activity is important for organisations like theirs, but just 42% are able to do this today.

So how can businesses and CX departments alike better align their capabilities with their goals, and start making the most of their customer data?

Data is everywhere!

Organisations are currently operating in a data-rich environment, but are struggling to deal with the sheer volume of customer information that they are receiving.

As customers hop between channels, the standard expectation today is that companies should know them anywhere and provide what they want instantly. Therefore, to meet the demands of this new era, companies must understand that their data must be agile and scalable, and see integrating customer data into business processes as vital in achieving this.

However, the existing infrastructure is not providing the capabilities that are necessary to compete and succeed. The pandemic, and subsequent digitisation that most organisations went through to successfully operate in this new environment, was undoubtedly the major cause for this influx of data. 

Customers today are far more conscious and savvy about data privacy – expecting full transparency around data collection and sharing. Not to mention the combination of the pandemic and, more recently, the cost-of-living crisis has also resulted in heightened customer service/experience expectations. With people having to make do with considerably less disposable income, they are understandably looking for as much bang for their buck as possible.

What’s going wrong?

In attempting to outline precisely what is preventing current CX customer data infrastructure and strategies from processing and utilising customer data effectively, the survey revealed two clear stumbling blocks: silos and a limited ability to collaborate.

Silos are generally considered to be the biggest challenge standing in the way of generating business outcomes when it comes to data. This suggestion is supported by the survey findings, which saw almost four in 10 respondents (39%) citing data silos within business functions or channels as being their largest obstacle to generating business outcomes from their customer data.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the inability to collaborate was only marginally below silos (38%), with those surveyed outlining limited alignment and collaboration across departments as extremely detrimental to their capacity to meet customer data goals and processes.

However, on closer inspection, this makes a great deal of sense. When dealing with masses of information, being able to accurately and efficiently designate who is responsible for disseminating specific aspects of the customer data is crucial.

Organisations with subpar data sharing and collaboration systems in place will never be able to fully capitalise on their customer data banks – a point that organisations, again, seem well aware of, with 67% of companies stating that they are changing the way they store/structure customer data to improve their CX capabilities.

Unleashing your data’s potential

The report is quite forthright in how it believes organisations can resolve these customer data issues, highlighting data amalgamation as one of the key elements of a successful strategy.

To achieve this, the report recommends the incorporation of centralised data models, which would allow information to be collected in one place so it can be easily shared and used by people throughout the organisation.

This ease of access is key – “A centralised data model is critical – it provides greater efficiencies, less risk, and greater levels of normalisation. Without a centralised data model, companies are unable to capture the demand and constant changes in customer needs.”

Whilst efficient and accessible data storage is beneficial, it is important to remember that the key goal here is to transfer this data into improving customer experiences.

The virtues of centralising your organisation’s data are also supported by the respondents:

  • 37% stated that they are in the process of introducing a centralised data model, and
  • 29% said that they are planning to implement one.

Of course, incorporating new technology systems will not be cheap. Yet, despite the current financial uncertainty, all indicators are suggesting that CX will see increased spending next year, with one report claiming that 82% of CX leaders believe their budgets will rise in the next 12 months.

Conclusion

Customer expectations are going to continue to rise, and one of the key ways that organisations can satisfy these expectations is by leveraging the increased amount of data they are receiving in an agile, flexible and accessible manner.

While the benefits of centralised data models are undeniable, CX professionals mustn’t become over-reliant on the technology and forget that its main purpose is to assist in providing more personalised experiences

A machine can’t do that job for you but a regular Mystery Shopping program is the perfect solution to measure the quality of customer service or to gather specific information about products and services, which can then be utilised to further train staff where necessary or to innovate and improve existing products and services so that they’re consistently aligning with or exceeding consumer expectations.

At HOED Research, we offer our clients the best Mystery Shopping solutions and tools in the market. We have a highly qualified team of mystery shoppers nationwide, who are well-trained to observe and spot the most delicate details. Each programme we undertake is tailor-made to suit each client’s needs. Finally, all results are collated in our extensive professional reporting, which is available to view online. It’s our unique ability to deliver the best results in a small amount of time, whilst not missing any of the little details that make us a desirable partner to our clients.

HOED Research Slogan

*This article was adapted from a piece originally published on mycustomer.com*