Do you remember the last truly exceptional meal you ate at a restaurant? If it stands out in your memory, it probably wasn’t solely because of the perfectly seared steak or sublime glass of wine. Your server was not just polite, but engaged in creating a special dining experience just for you. You might not remember the taste of every bite, but you remember exactly how you felt throughout the meal. You’re still telling everyone to try that restaurant when they travel to the same city. Now, can you make your own customers this happy?
We are all in the service business now. And before you shrug off that idea as a meaningless truism, remember that every business transaction with a customer begins a potentially lifelong relationship. Just as a rude server can ruin a delicious meal and keep you from ever returning to a restaurant, every product you sell, or service you provide, creates a contract of perceived customer expectations. Even if someone else is responsible for a service visit, guess who will be named by a customer in a frustrated social media post. Hint: it’s not the nameless service contractor.
Research has shown customer experience is directly tied to profitability, a primary concern for all businesses. And now, big data can help.
Can data solve your service problem?
The standard bearers for great customer experiences are increasingly disruptive companies and applications that ostensibly don’t have a service component at all. It’s unlikely customers ever have human to human (H2H) interaction with anyone at Netflix or Amazon, but these companies have turned customer data into incredible recommendation engines that keep these customers coming back and spending more.
From being able to supply more personalization through what you learn about customers, to understanding how product usage changes throughout its lifecycle, unexpected insights can completely transform the future of your business—if you’re willing to follow the data.
To build the right foundation for data-driven customer service, identify existing sources and inputs and look for ways they can be augmented with additional sources; invest in a data scientist or outside resources to conduct a meaningful analysis; and set appropriate KPIs and reporting practices that enable a continuous review of data, trends, and what actions your business can take.
It’s time to move beyond what’s breaking and needs fixing or what’s about to break. Rich customer data can tell you a more interesting story about how customers feel about your business.
Defining a new level of customer trust
Data is the key to truly knowing your customers. That knowledge is power, and with great power, comes great responsibility. As more businesses rely on data to provide better customer experiences, they’re also taking on the burden of capturing, storing, and managing that data responsibly.
While most technology consumers understand their data is interacting with various services whenever they use a website or application, few know just how complex and sophisticated these tools and algorithms are. It’s been called the “trust web”—where each party shares data and permissions granted by the core user in a way that yields some benefit. Beyond earning customer trust by delivering on the promise of reliable products and consistent service, you must also make them feel confident that the voluminous data collected is well protected, mostly anonymous, and safeguarded from misuse.
Customer experience and trust can be fodder or poison for a brand. Ask your marketing team to help you make sense of consumer behavior and better communicate the benefits of your enhanced offerings and collected data.
Service quality will save the business
We are living in an experience economy, with customers craving more utility and meaning from their purchases. Competing on price alone should be a last resort, but brand differentiation is an increasingly critical competitive advantage.
By focusing on service and experience as integral to a successful product and sale, businesses can still compete for a sophisticated and demanding customer base. The customer experience advantage might begin with the point of sale, but it can earn a lifetime of loyalty. Let customer data light the way to an intimate understanding of their relationship with your products or services, and then deliver experiences your competition won’t be able to replicate.