A new era for customer experience

By Clint Oram

The digital revolution over the past decade has transformed the way businesses store and manage customer data. Approximately 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the past three years, according to Aureus Analytics. This huge growth is because customers are now able to communicate with organisations across more channels than ever before. As the rate of growth continues at such unprecedented speed, the challenge for businesses is not capturing this data, but using it.

Customer-facing organisations have had to adapt quickly to manage this volume of information. The need to store customer data in a secure, efficient and flexible way that best suits the needs of the business is crucial. In an increasingly competitive world, the challenge to stand out in the market is greater than ever, particularly when buyers have the power to choose between companies who offer the same range of capabilities and compete solely on price. Smart data use could hold the key to differentiating themselves, their approach to customer experience, and their products.

In 2017, the ability to evaluate and apply aggregated data successfully will be the new common ground for the entire C-suite. Not only will it be essential for retaining existing customers and converting prospects into new sales, but new initiatives around delivering on customer experience will fail without a comprehensive view of customer data. It’s clear that customer experience has become the benchmark of success for organisations. Gartner predicted that by 2017, 89 percent of marketing leaders expect to compete primarily on customer experience, compared with 36 percent four years ago. As we near the end of 2016, I have no doubt customer experience will remain the crucial point of difference when business decision makers access the manufacturing market.

Key to providing this customer experience is the ability to properly manage big data. Organisations should be aware of the many benefits this can bring to their business, too. With a business-wide strategy in place, big data provides the power to inform better decision-making, streamline the supply chain, improve capital management, and even co-ordinate individuals within and outside of the organisation for custom projects. The opportunities are huge.  

However, the danger when dealing with data is that organisations simply become overwhelmed with the amount available to them, and don’t know where to start to make it useful. A recent study by EY found 32 percent of respondents are overwhelmed by data, and a Gartner survey revealed only 15 percent of businesses reported deploying their big data project to production. With this in mind, the pressure is on for not only the marketing functions, but the wider business ecosystem to use company data to improve and enhance customer experience.

The key to success lies in the ability to analyse data to gain useful information. Businesses need to break down their data into bite-sized, usable chunks. CRM systems can be an integral part of this, providing the analytical tools needed to unify customer information gathered across multiple channels and platforms, and turn it into insights that can be translated into actions, practices and processes. This can empower businesses not only to build deeper relationships with its customers, but to deliver on customer service objectives and the bottom line.  

Sennheiser Electronic has made some remarkable progress in this area. Significant global business growth and channel diversification made it clear to Sennheiser executives that they could no longer rely on homegrown solutions that kept data in isolated silos. They needed a more holistic approach which made their divisions work more efficiently together and ultimately provide a better customer experience. They invested in technology from SugarCRM that could provide them with the flexibility, agility and scalability they needed. This enabled Sennheiser to map the entire customer life cycle and build a 360 degree view of each interaction.

Possessing consolidated information allows businesses like this to know their customers better. They’re able to get ‘under the skin’ of a customers’ requirements, allowing their sales and marketing teams to deal with them on a more personalised level, and achieve customer service excellence.

Armed with the proper information and meaningful data, businesses can ensure a quality of customer experience that retains and attracts customers, and boosts business revenue. In today’s information economy, data is power, but only when it is insightful. CRM systems allow data to be ‘big enough’ to provide important insights but simultaneously ‘small enough’ to remain manageable, accessible and relevant. For organisations looking to avoid the big data deluge, CRM solutions are an invaluable tool, helping them make the most of their data, rather than becoming overwhelmed by it. This will be the key to success in 2017 and beyond.

By Clint Oram, Chief Marketing Officer, SugarCRM


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