Customer-focused transformation: the rocket fuel for business success

Technology is transforming our lives

It’s revolutionising the way we buy groceries, send gifts, listen to our favourite music, communicate with loved ones, and much more. Because it’s so convenient and ubiquitous, we expect ultra-fast and highly personalised services from all the companies we engage with.

As a result, businesses are scrambling to launch projects that will enhance their customer journeys – often with little strategic direction and with mixed results.

For example, in its recent Darkness of Digital Shadows research paper, SAS found that 93 per cent of organisations don’t have the analytics capabilities required to predict customer behaviour accurately. Even more concerning: Less than a fifth of companies are prioritising the customer experience over their internal sales targets.

Shaking off outdated operating models

Most companies organise their businesses around specific products, processes and channels. This inside-out approach can create tedious and frustrating customer interactions.

For example, a customer is placed on hold for an extended period of time in your call centre. When finally connecting, she’s told she needs to speak with a different department. Such disjointed customer service can cost your company dearly. And it’s a direct result of an organisation that is built around internal fiefdoms rather than customer needs.

By contrast, organising your operating model around your customers can yield great rewards. It inspires customers to remain loyal and recommend your services to friends and family. The results are lower churn, higher revenues and greater market share.

But how? Experts agree that there are three key ingredients for a customer-centric company: timely data, sophisticated analytics and a strong decision-making culture. If these elements are out of balance, projects focused on improving your customer experience will quickly derail.

Best-laid plans

Many companies recognise the power of a customer-centric operational model. With good intentions, they launch projects to mobilise data and improve customer experience across multiple touch points.

However, siloed customer experience improvement initiatives rarely generate good outcomes. While one specific department may meet all its core KPIs, overall metrics may show little sign of improvement. This is because customers view their interaction with organisations holistically. It doesn’t matter if your sales experience is excellent if your billing department keeps making mistakes. Customers won’t think twice about looking elsewhere.

Another common problem is that siloed customer experience improvement projects tend to be top-down, one-hit failures. They involve a lengthy development and testing process, with no provision for continuous iteration and enhancement. By the time the solution is ready to go live, the data is outdated. So you’re right back to square one after wasting a huge amount of time and resources.

Similarly, companies often focus on using a centralised data lake instead of making data accessible to the business. By the time the data has been discovered, extracted and analysed, the conclusions are outdated. Once again, these projects occupy a huge amount of time and resources for little reward.

Seeing the world through your customers’ eyes

Let’s define an intelligent enterprise as a company that customers not only tolerate, but actually enjoy interacting with. These companies take a holistic approach to customer experience instead of dividing efforts across specific products, processes or channels.

Intelligent enterprises closely align data and customer intelligence platforms with their systems of action. This means sales agents have information while serving customers and personalised offers are delivered to customers via mobile apps or websites.

For example, Telefónica recently launched a project to reduce customer attrition. It used SAS Intelligent Decisioning solutions to analyse large amounts of customer data and better understand the reasons why customers leave. It found that running out of data was a key trigger. Customers found the process of buying more credit or switching to a different package was more hassle than simply changing to another provider.

The company took action fast by developing the capability to analyse real-time customer usage data. As a result, it can see when customers are running out of minutes or data. By correlating this information with data about each customer’s subscription packages, Telefónica now creates personalised offers. Instead of running out of minutes, customers receive a notification about their current data levels, along with a link to a tailored mobile data plan.

Since going live with this real-time deal personalisation engine, Telefónica has seen a 500 per cent increase in the uptake of new offers. Customer churn rates have also been dramatically reduced.

Being able to understand customer behaviour, create personalised offers and increase wallet share can have a massive impact on a company’s bottom line. Don’t just imagine how your organisation can be customer-centric; take the first steps today.

About the Author

Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland. Tiffany has spent over 20 years helping organisations transform customer experience across their sales, service and marketing operations. In her current role at SAS, she guides organisations on the application of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to harness customer insights and deliver relevant one-to-one experiences.