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How Big Data Can Help You Provide a Better Customer Experience

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Metrics and data analytics have always been important for strategic marketers. After all, metrics and data analytics inform marketers of what's successful—and what's not.

Companies today have the ability to harness the power of vast and complex data sets more than ever. The amount of data can seem daunting, but companies can make data manageable by addressing a specific business issue with that information.

Moreover, Big Data may be an organization's most effective tool for delivering the kind of customer experience that differentiates a brand from the rest of the pack.

The Importance of a Big Data Strategy

Big Data gives brands the ability to rapidly convert data-based insights into key business improvements. Historically, the use of data was limited by relatively small data sets, long processing times, and labor-intensive business rules, but the latest Big Data tools have changed all of that.


Analysts now have access to...

  • More data—Instead of relying on a handful of structured data-delivery vehicles, organizations can now capture insights from a much larger pool of structured and unstructured data sources. In the past, diligent companies weeded through myriad interactions to find patterns then worked to improve those experiences, but doing so was time-consuming and left more room for human error than today's tools.
  • Diverse data streams—Data captured from a range of internal and external sources (traditional sources, such as call centers and customer surveys, as well as social media and websites) gives a more complete view of the customer voice. This wide array of data provides multiple points of view for specific aspects of the business and the customer experience.
  • Streamlined business rules—More efficient handling of business rules and the use of advanced algorithms make combining and managing hundreds of variables quickly possible. Collecting data and using it effectively has become easier and therefore more popular.
  • Real-time capabilities—The burden of processing lag times is mitigated by the ability to manage information and results in real time. Businesses can implement changes more quickly now, so customers don't have to wait as long to see improvements or that their input has been recognized.

Big Data allows organizations to use information more quickly and accurately than ever. The use of Big Data enables brands to capture insights from an incredibly diverse set of data sources. Companies can then rapidly convert that information into improvements more closely aligned with customers' actual needs and preferences.

However, the use of Big Data for customer-experience improvements also involves challenges, including the need for transparency. Marketers need to look at data holistically and know when, where, and how the data was collected for effective analysis.

Converting Big Data into a Better Customer Experience

Listening to and applying feedback from the voice of the customer is a hallmark of best-in-class marketing. Companies that do this consistently improve the customer experience rather than perform a one-time process overhaul. For most brands, collecting and analyzing Big Data helps consistently upgrade the customer experience because it highlights areas of focus and aligns potential improvements with customer expectations.

Big Data can be used to improve your brand's customer experience across multiple stages of the customer journey. Here are four ideas to help you get started.

1. Improved or new products and services

Not sure how to take your products or services to the next level to better satisfy your customers' wants and needs? Big Data analysis reveals insights from a diverse range of channels, uncovering information about your products or services that can't be gleaned from a single channel or smaller data sets.

2. Increased personalization

Big Data increases visibility to customer preferences and purchase behaviors, creating opportunities to personalize various dimensions of the customer experience. For example, by capturing and analyzing data from each stage of the customer lifecycle, injecting personalization features into pivotal moments in the customer experience becomes easier. Those features range from greeting the customer by name to knowing previous issues the customer has had to contact the company about before.

3. Better self-serve opportunities

Today's customers expect the availability of self-serve features that allow them to perform basic activities without the assistance of customer service or sales reps. Big Data drives insights that can make these self-serve features more valuable to customers, satisfying their desire to interact with your brand on their own terms.

4. Enhanced customer service

When customer service is needed, Big Data gives representatives the information they require to offer a more complete, accurate, and satisfying customer experience. Sales reps can provide more accurate information, more personalized service, and solutions to customer problems more quickly.

* * *

Customer experience is rapidly becoming a critical driver of revenue and market share. As a result, marketers of competitive brands need to become faster and more effective at adapting customer-facing business dimensions to the actual needs of the marketplace—and increasingly, that means becoming more adept at using Big Data insights for customer-experience improvement.


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Tamara Solarich is CMO at The Northridge Group, a management consulting firm specializing in end-to-end customer experience solutions and cost-transformation initiatives with an emphasis on data analytics and business-process redesign.

LinkedIn: Tamara Solarich

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  • by Katherine Thu Nov 6, 2014 via web

    Great points Tamara. And with the growing access marketers have to Big Data, the struggle becomes how to manage it all. The only way we’ll be able to use it to our advantage (increasing personalization and enhancing customer experiences, as you mentioned) is to embrace new marketing technologies and the developing integrations between them.

    In terms of marketing technology that can help, my company uses Marketo (track leads from web and email), Ifbyphone (track inbound phone leads back to the marketing source that originated them), and Salesforce CRM (feed lead data in from both Marketo and Ifbyphone to follow leads through to revenue to accurately measure ROI of each source).

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