It is now a well-known business cliché: Data is the new resource.
It is, in large part, true. Businesses have a unique opportunity to gain valuable insights from the digital age’s data explosion about how they can serve customers better. Although the data might not always be accurate, it is better than guesswork or opinion.
Many organizations don’t realize that they are making the situation more difficult by accumulating data on click and conversion rates and search logs.
Digital Experiences for Understanding: A shift to digital experiences
How is this possible? Companies are now expected to be able to understand customers, even though they don’t often see them or speak to them. However, allowing big data to take over traditional and personal methods of understanding customers only makes the distance worse.
This is why we end up with companies claiming to be customer-centric. Ouch.
Companies are forced to find the best ways to understand their customers and provide exceptional customer service. This is market reality.
You can see that consumer expectations have never been higher. The digital marketplace is overflowing with businesses offering nearly identical products. People can easily transfer their money to other places with just a click of a button on their smartphone or mouse.
Consumers today compare their experiences
Consumers today are more inclined to compare their experiences across all brands, products, and services. When consumers buy clothing online, they might compare it with their experience at a restaurant or booked through an app. The two are different, but consumers don’t care about the differences: They expect the same quality.
Customer experience is the key difference and the loyalty driver in digital economy. Are they able to feel valued and understood? Is it easy to set up a new account? Is it easy to use, useful, and fun?
Customers love the best experiences, even at a higher price
Customers will always choose companies that provide pleasant experiences. They are more likely to stay loyal to them if they offer similar products or deliver them quicker. The company that provides the best customer experience and establishes a genuine connection wins.
It is difficult and costly to keep up with the unprecedented demands of customers. Many organizations have chosen, therefore, to tap into their vast stockpiles containing carefully collected customer data.
This feels more efficient and business leaders are conditioned to believe numbers are sufficient to make good business decisions. Companies have spent substantial dollars on data collection and analysis equipment, but then they trust the numbers.
However, there is a problem. Customer data provides only a partial picture.
Here are some examples:
Analytics provides insight into customer behavior, such as how customers interact with products or experiences. This can help to identify trends and areas for improvement. Analytics don’t allow for a nuanced and emotional understanding of the customer’s experience. Companies can’t see customers as people, but rather data points.
The CRM and B2B world
CRM systems are used in the B2B industry to answer the question “What am I doing about my customer?” Many businesses cannot function without these tools to manage customer information and relationships. These systems provide information about customers only from the company’s point of view.
They do not collect information from users. Everything is viewed through their company lens which is self-serving, and is the antithesis to customer centricity.
What about the surveys that customers are asked to complete? These surveys can give insight into customer opinions about their experience. Surveys can still be problematic due to a variety of reasons. These include survey fatigue, which limits returns, generalized responses that lack the kind of subtle feedback, which can be revelatory and the possibility that bots are infiltrating online polls.
These techniques lack a perspective on what it is like to be in the shoes of customers. None of these techniques offer enough depth or a wide enough perspective to give businesses a real understanding of the things that entice and keep customers loyal.
Will the Customer Actual Stand Up?
To build a multidimensional picture of human customers, companies must combine data with customer perspectives.
This requires that you observe and converse with customers and listen to their words and actions (sentiment and pace, intonation, etc.). You also need to note facial expressions and body language and other human signals that can be used to express delight, frustration, or motivation.
A company’s ability see the people for whom it’s creating experiences is what makes them stand out in a digital age where consumers have incredible choices and extraordinary power.
Businesses without this information run the risk of creating products that no one wants, making ill-informed decisions about their current offerings, and becoming more distant from those they serve.
Data alone won’t help you create unforgettable customer experiences, let’s be clear. While data may provide a general picture, which is usually in the form trends and patterns, customer narratives add color and context to the overall picture and give a human perspective that cannot be found by relying only on numbers.