Real insight into the psyche of customers is rarely achieved today. But with the right process and focus on key data points, information can be leveraged to improve customer experiences throughout the entire customer journey.
Little did Rodgers and Hammerstein know in 1951 that their song “Getting to Know You” written for the musical “The King and I” would become the 21st century mantra for every company focused on getting to know their customers and improving their customer experience.
Those responsible for aligning customer care with business goals have long used basic profile information and purchasing history to understand their customers. But real insight into the psyche of customers was rarely achieved. Thanks to advances in technology, there is a plethora of data that can now be accessed and leveraged for improving customer experiences throughout the entire customer journey.
Although customer information is easier to come by than ever before, it may be harder now to truly get to know customers. Why? There are some very clear reasons why this is the case:
- Customers are not as loyal as they used to be. It’s difficult to get the pulse of a customer base when there is a high churn rate.
- Customers are more diverse than ever, making micro-segmentation necessary to understand specific behaviors.
- There is so much data from interaction channels and applications that it can be hard to sift through to gain any real insights that can be used to take actionable steps to improve the customer experience and achieve desired business outcomes.
Retaining customers in business markets isn’t just about keeping them in the fold; companies must also develop relationships with customers and grow their loyalty over time. Unfortunately, more than 80% of companies use satisfaction scores to monitor customer loyalty. getting loyal and long term customers is to simply offer a good level of service. If a customer is happy with how they are treated and the price that they have paid for a product, they are more likely to be loyal to the brand.
Still, getting to know the customer is more important than ever. This requires thoughtful analysis of data and working to truly understand customer needs. Here are a few ways to learn more about your customers:
Don’t Make Assumptions
This is both a smart marketing strategy and a proven business philosophy. Don’t assume anything about your customers, their beliefs, or their preferences. What may have been wildly successful one year can be a whopping failure the next. Customers are notoriously fickle and how they interact with your brand is always evolving. Instead of making decisions on methods and practices that worked in the past, use current data and insights about customers to determine what will work best for them now.
Consider, too, how your business objectives may shift based on what you know in real time versus what you assume about your customers. With more information comes more opportunities to dynamically treat your customers and enhance your ability to achieve goals you could not address if key customer information were not available.
As you learn more about your customers and leverage context throughout the customer journey, you will be able to depart from generic assumptions and engage on precisely navigated paths to mutual success for your business outcomes and improved customer experience.
Think Beyond Single Customer Interactions
Yes, you can learn a lot about a customer by keeping track of their purchasing behavior. While this information is valuable, there’s still a lot more to analyze. What is the customer’s preferred channel for placing an order? What is their online web behavior? What tasks does the customer complete on a routine, self-service basis?
Although the technology is now available to obtain a wealth of data, few marketers and even fewer contact center management teams are using propensity scores, channel-preference data, and other types of information to better understand their customers. The data is there. Making use of it is the challenge!
Send a Senior Team to the Front-Lines
C-level executives and other decision-makers can certainly learn a lot by reviewing data, but they can also be woefully out of touch with their customers if they never spend any time actually talking to them. One of the most effective ways of getting to know your customers is to spend time in a customer-facing role. By having senior teams from different departments spend time meeting customers and understanding their needs, requests, and challenges, there can be a much greater understanding of how to improve the customer experience within the contact center environment as well as in digital channels where enhanced self-service and purchase opportunities are ever increasing.
Leverage Social Data
One of the biggest benefits of social media channels is the data that it captures. Many companies never consider this data when it comes to how to optimize the customer experience. Facebook and Twitter analytics deliver amazing information on how existing and prospective customers are interacting with your brand. Instead of this information being used only by the social media manager, it should be widely shared between the marketing, sales, and contact center teams.
Making the match between social media interactions and all other information known about the customer is potentially actionable across the contact center as well as other business units. Many businesses ask, “But how do we identify customers in social media channels?”
My experience: Ask the customer for their social media channel identification keys, such as their Twitter handle or Facebook login details. When onboarding customers, finalizing transactions, or updating profiles, simply asking for this information will result in customers providing you the means to identify their social media identification keys and contact methods.
Over time, the percentage of anonymous social media interactions will increase favorably to known, identified customers. This results in the ability for you to treat them according to what you know about who they are, what they likely need, and how to deliver service versus generically responding without the full context of what is known from other interactions.
Ask Real Customers What They Think
Sometimes it’s necessary to step back and truly listen to your customers. By doing so, you may be able to get beyond what you think they need and actually find out ways to serve them better. This is a great approach to find new opportunities and ways to differentiate your brand from the competition.
We have all read, heard, and discussed “The Customer Journey” in recent years. Many solutions focus on associated net outcomes and tracking customer activity across channels to derive the effectiveness of customer treatment strategies.
There is huge value in knowing the starting channels, ending channels, all channels used in-between, methods and points of proactive engagement, and all associated customer data to determine how effective you are navigating customer outcomes. However, without hearing the customer describe treatment from their perspective, there is only non-validated data and potentially missed opportunities to enhance the customer experience.