Why data is more important than ever to customer experience
Brent Haumann, CXO, Striata discusses why data is important for customer experience.
In today’s world, the margin between businesses that thrive and those which merely survive is growing increasingly narrow. Competing on factors such as price, availability, and quality is difficult, leaving customer experience (CX) as one of the best ways for a business to stand out. In fact, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key product differentiator by the end of 2020.
And when it comes to the management of customer experience, the pivotal role that data plays cannot be stressed enough.
In fact, the entire CX ecosystem is dependent on having access to accurate and useful information.
Concepts such as a single view of the customer (SVOC), hyper-personalization, and micro-segmentation are all key to an organization’s ability to build and create the kind of personalized products, services, and communication that customers expect.
At the core of all of these is data.
But data shouldn’t just inform how businesses approach their client relationships, it should also underpin a modern organization’s product, CX and communication strategies.
What is a single view of the customer and why is it important?
A single view of the customer means making all data about an individual available for other systems to customize that customer’s interaction with the company. SVOC is important, not to know what a customer has done in the past, but to predict what a customer will need in the future.
Having that kind of insight is vital to providing great CX. To use a practical, everyday example, would you feel more comfortable shopping at an online store that repeatedly serves you ads for the product you just bought or the one that uses your buying history to make recommendations for useful future purchases?
In order to foster this kind of behavior, organizations must pull together a range of different data types.
These include, but are not limited to:
Information about the person: at the core is a system that identifies each individual client. This system should store identification data alongside contact information, geographic location, basic demographics, communication preferences, and data processing consents.
Information about what the person does: supplementary information that is found in other internal data sources, such as ERP, sales, communication - needs to be either integrated into a central warehouse or accessible to the system that is creating a single view.
Big data: external sources of data are valuable in refining the shape of the customer. These can be structured (which adheres to a pre-defined data model and is therefore straightforward to analyzed) or unstructured (that is, information that either does not have a predefined data model or is not organized in a pre-defined manner).
A step in the CX journey
It’s important to note, however, that no organization is going to have a single view of every customer from the start.
Getting to that point, as is the case with CX as a whole, is a journey - not a destination.
For immediate, measurable improvements, a great place to start is with digital communication. It’s something that doesn’t even require you to collect new data before you use it as a CX improvement strategy. Instead, you simply have to understand the data you already have and how it can be used to personalize communication.
Something as simple as a customer’s preferred communication channel can make a significant difference. Track engagement with each communication, and use this information to further personalize the next communication.
With every engagement, you’ll build a more complete view of each customer.
At the same time, it’s important to run concurrent workstreams to develop access to other internal data sources. As these are added to the mix, you can further improve the relevancy of individual communications.
Ultimately, good CX is about building relationships with customers. And the more you know about someone, the easier it is to build those relationships.
But, just like real-life relationships, you can’t expect to know everything there is to know about someone all at once.
It takes time to get a complete picture, but the organizations that invest time and effort smartly will reap the rewards.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.