Data and Insight

  |  November 9, 2010   |  Comments

Are businesses delivering a multichannel, integrated customer experience? A survey identifies the obstacles.

These days we live in an experience economy. Many organizations look to compete through some kind of service- or product-differentiated strategy rather than purely on price. But it's a complex landscape; organizations have to work across multiple channels and deliver a joined-up experience, across the Web, the call center, stores, and other touchpoints. Consumers are no longer tolerant of organizations that don't recognize them across these various touchpoints and are better equipped than ever before to drop something when things aren't right.

So how are businesses coping with the need to deliver a multichannel, integrated customer experience? Well, the evidence from a recent report from my company and Econsultancy in the U.K. suggests that while organizations recognize that this is something they need to do, they are a long way from delivering on that need. The report based on a survey of over 500 businesses highlighted that the majority of organizations do recognize the link between business performance and customer experience, but are struggling to develop a strategy for multichannel customer experience management and then delivering on that strategy. A key issue is that nobody owns the problem, with many organizations lacking an individual or a department to take responsibility for the customer experience within the business. Everyone is too busy, focused on doing their own thing.

The sheer complexity of managing a cross-channel customer experience is also a major problem, but that complexity is often exacerbated by the fact that there is no clear strategy. Over two-thirds of the organizations that took part in the survey said they were just in the process of beginning to develop their strategy for managing the customer experience across channels. This included some pretty big organizations.

An obstacle to organizations improving their multichannel customer experience? Difficulties in tying together various difference sources of customer data. About a third of companies said this lack of the single customer view was a major barrier preventing them from making progress. Developing a joined-up customer experience requires joined-up data and one of the biggest challenges facing many organizations today is finding ways of connecting their online and offline data.

In many cases, companies now have their Web data almost under control and the next phase of their analytical development is to combine that data with other data they hold in the organization. This is not a trivial issue and it's important that organizations develop a coherent data strategy to take them to the next level. This strategy needs to address questions such as "How can I track the customer experience across multiple touchpoints?" "What data do I need to collect?" "What technology do I need?" and perhaps one of the most important questions is "What resources and skills do I need?"

Having continuous feedback through customer surveys was seen as being vitally important. This was seen as being one of the key ways to generate quality customer insight and to help them improve their service levels. At the same time, the trouble is that a lot of businesses don't have in place the right kind of structures to derive actionable insight. Often I've seen examples of rich data being left to wither on the vine because no one had the time or the responsibility to look at what their data was telling them and therefore what they should do about it.

Data and insight are two of the greatest enablers to developing an improved customer experience. Organizations that invest in managing data across channels will be well-placed for success.

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Neil Mason

Neil Mason is SVP, Customer Engagement at iJento. He is responsible for providing iJento clients with the most valuable customer insights and business benefits from iJento's digital and multichannel customer intelligence solutions.

Neil has been at the forefront of marketing analytics for over 25 years. Prior to joining iJento, Neil was Consultancy Director at Foviance, the UK's leading user experience and analytics consultancy, heading up the user experience design, research, and digital analytics practices. For the last 12 years Neil has worked predominantly in digital channels both as a marketer and as a consultant, combining a strong blend of commercial and technical understanding in the application of consumer insight to help major brands improve digital marketing performance. During this time he also served as a Director of the Web Analytics Association (DAA) for two years and currently serves as a Director Emeritus of the DAA. Neil is also a frequent speaker at conferences and events.

Neil's expertise ranges from advanced analytical techniques such as segmentation, predictive analytics, and modelling through to quantitative and qualitative customer research. Neil has a BA in Engineering from Cambridge University and an MBA and a postgraduate diploma in business and economic forecasting.

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