A new era for customer experience
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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How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.