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Data-driven Customer Centricity in the Digital World
Saurabh Agarwal General Manager, Digital & Analytics | May 26, 2020
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Among a swarm of definitions on customer centricity, the one that struck me the most was one from Investopedia:

"An approach to doing business that focuses on creating a positive experience for the customer by maximizing service/product offerings and building relationships".

Human interactions, at their core, are adaptive and complex and form the very basis of relationships. From a customer-business association standpoint, these relationships render themselves as customer loyalty, brand allegiance, and shopper satisfaction etc.

Forward looking enterprises have identified and acknowledged that in today’s digital world as well, every customer experience starts and ends with a human interaction. The only difference here is that the upsurge of digital channels has provided a plethora of such human interaction opportunities which was not a possibility earlier. This has pushed enterprises to redefine boundaries of how they do business, with a customer-centric approach to create a seamless positive experience across digital and non-digital customer interactions. A brick and mortar grocery store or a quick service restaurant, a high-touch customer banking organization or a physician’s clinic, all enterprises are finding new methods of human interactions to create a positive customer experience. Such positive experiences over a period of time provide openings to maximize digital services thereby converging into long-term customer relationships.

The core to such a vision of customer centricity is a data-driven approach which reflects all aspects of data including data management, data provisioning, data insights, and data operations. Such a data-driven mindset mandates that the right data is made available consistently across channels at a speed at which business can benefit from its usage.

Well, it’s easier said than done. In fact, this reminds me of a quote I read somewhere:

The elevator to success is out of order, you’ll have to use the stairs, one step at a time.

Let’s dive right in.

Who am I?

As you would have figured out by now, the customer journey starts by you knowing them. This essentially means the ability to identify, consolidate, and unify customer data across all channels/sources– call centers, point-of-sale systems, mobile apps, social media, eCommerce apps, customer loyalty apps, and third-party data sources. By no means does this represent a complete list, and it will continue to evolve as businesses identify new methods of customer communication, customer interaction, and customer acquisition.

This calls for an adaptive data platform that enables ubiquitous data processing (for various formats, scale, breadth of sources, and depth of tech), has automation at its core (self-monitoring, self-healing), and allows democratization of data for seamless consumption. The outcome of such a consolidation would be a unified profile of a customer that can be consumed across channels based on customer communications and interactions through the customer life cycle journey.

How do I behave?

Creating a positive experience predominantly requires a comprehensive understanding of customer behavior and overlay with contributing factors like customer lifestyle, economic situation, occupation, age, and other multidimensional factors. Digital data provides in-depth visibility into customer behavior such as search patterns, selections, purchases, influences of family, friends, clicks on advertisements, and a lot more.

It’s imperative to architect the overall data delivery solution with a consumption-based mindset. What that basically means is that the effectiveness of monetization of data (also read as the ability to provide more opportunities for maximizing digital services/offers/products to the customer) depends on how futuristic the data solution architecture is. An event-driven architecture enables sub-second collection of customer behavior data which can then be correlated to previous behaviors to figure out the customer value. This real-time data then feeds into marketing applications to identify the next best action for appropriately inclining the customer behavior toward a favorable business outcome.

What next for me?

A stagnant relationship tends to lose its charm.  This is no different for a customer relationship. As they say:

Every milestone is a new beginning…

As organizations work tirelessly to prevent customer churn, the customer, on the other hand, tends to get restless quickly. Staying ahead of the curve essentially boils down to understanding your customer to the core, preempting needs and being ready with solutions even before the customer calls for it. Simple examples could be a new chicken hoagie, a 5G mobile plan, a free furniture delivery offer, automated measurement of patient vitals, one-click checkout…the list goes on.

Customer analytics and data analytics play a very critical role in enabling competitive advantage for enterprises.

Customer analytics and data analytics play a very critical role in enabling competitive advantage for enterprises. Device data, IoT data, competitor data, transactional data, third-party data, and other datasets enable organizations to create models that can not only understand the customer’s current journey but also predict future journey paths based on various customer personas. This use of data analytics and digital analytics really helps pave the path forward for growing an evolving relationship with the customer.

In summary, an adaptive data platform that embraces a futuristic consumption-based architecture with embedded data analytics and digital analytics forms the basis of a growth-oriented customer-centric strategy.