Data improves the customer experience when it becomes accessible to all parts of an organization, just as it is required to personalize ad targeting and retargeting from search to display to video. It also requires rethinking processes inside the company.
It may sound a little philosophical, but the inside-facing customer experience must improve similar to the out-facing experience. When the 357 executives from large organizations in the Forbes Insights study were asked to name the biggest challenges to improve the customer experience within the organization, 27% pointed to integrating channel experiences and 25% said lack of real-time reporting. Those were not the No. 1 challenges. The top challenges were following up to service requests at 34%, and the fact that processes were not fully covered by IT systems, at 29%.
The global survey from Forbes Insights, in partnership with SAS, found that data-driven customer experiences enable organizations to better target and optimize for specific customers. It's no surprise that these organizations require better alignment of people, processes and technology across the enterprises. This requires not only sales and marketing teams to get on board, but also those in information technology, purchasing and production.
The study -- "Data Elevates The Customer Experience: New Ways of Discovering and Applying Customer Insights" -- highlights the need to link key backend processes with customer experience. This updated survey -- Blazing the Trail from Data to Insight to Action -- conducted in October 2015, identifies three categories of organizations, based on executives' reports of their progress in linking data analytics to the customer experience delivered. Those three include Leaders, Explorers, and Laggards.
Since the first survey, 34% continue to move forward with their data efforts, but another 14% report little progress today. Some 52% in the Leaders category report having well-developed and designed enterprise data analytics efforts to support a superior customer experience.
About 34% in the Explorer category report that their organizations are rapidly and systematically developing data analytics capabilities to improve their customer experience, and 14% of the Laggards report that many parts of the organization have data capabilities and are beginning to apply them to improve the customer experience.
The survey measures the company's data-driven customer experience progress based on the organization (people), the openness (data) and the orchestration (process).
When asked whether the use of data analytics creates a noticeable shift in the ability to deliver a superior customer experience and whether or not the company expects to see a shift in the next two years, 29% said yes they see a shift now, and 42% expect to see a significant shift across the board in two years.
Some 35% see a shift in many areas now and 30% expect to see it in two years. About 27% see a moderate shift now, and 17% expect to see one in two years. About 9% said they see no changes now and don't expect to see any changes to the customer experience.
Some 62% said they believe data has helped them make faster decisions, 51% point to better insights to see a common view of the customer, 49% said managers and employees are more confident about their decisions, and 49% see higher engagement with customers; and 47% have tied it to greater sales and revenue.
Interestingly, 44% see more repeat business, 37% cost savings, 36% greater collaboration, and 32% say they can more quickly react to market changes.