Irrespective of the size of your company, big data can bring a significant positive transformation to your customer support. And here’s an awesome spin: customer support data itself can be the very catalyst of that positive transformation.
We all know the importance of improved customer service to a business. Did you know that a customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service-related rather than price or product related?
According to American Express, Americans say customer service is better than ever with eight in 10 Americans (81 percent) reporting that businesses are now meeting or exceeding their expectations for service.
When your customers are happy, their loyalty to your company and its products cannot be swayed. They become voluntary brand ambassadors and this manifests in increased sales which ultimately translates to increased profitability.
Do not collect data to only use it when giving out occasional discounts and coupons. Make use of that data to deliver amazing customer experiences as well.
The proper use of customer data by organizations has given birth to remarkable progress. Goals they thought were almost impossible to accomplish have now become possible thanks to customer data, which is now readily available.
When approached in a good way, your customer support data can help your company reach unimaginable heights. It might be the only thing that your business needs to finally gain that elusive competitive edge.
A big question lingers, though. What are the things that my company must do to make the most out of its customer support data?
If you’ve been looking for answers to this important question, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we analyze several ways through which you can optimize customer support data.
1. Whatever You Do, Don’t Ignore Big Data
Big data is normally used to refer to a type of data or a form of processing data. When referring to a form of data, big data means very large, unstructured, as well as potentially time-sensitive data.
It refers to data that has been gathered from all the digital devices and the platforms used by your customers such as the company website, social media networks and your call center.
It is impossible to process this type of data using traditional database methods and processes. Such data demands an advanced processing approach – commonly referred to as big data.
The big data process is utilized in areas where conventional data mining and handling approaches cannot uncover the data’s meaning and insights. It is a relatively new technique of analyzing data and it has helped firms to not only research consumer behavior but also gain helpful insights.
Organizations that are reaping great benefits of big data depend on it to build highly precise models capable of running simulations of real-world occurrences. A good example is the use of big data to anticipate sales volumes for various products.
What are the benefits of big data?
The research entitled ‘Big Data in Big Companies’ involving an interview with over 50 companies revealed that big data results in smarter business moves, improved operational efficiency, happier customers, and in turn, greater profitability. The researcher, IIA director Tom Davenport, concluded that organizations obtain value in a number of ways, namely:
- Reduced costs – organizations benefit from tremendous cost advantages particularly in the storage of huge volumes of data, besides being able to discover more efficient ways of running a business.
- Decision making has become faster and better – this advantage comes from the ability of firms to analyze data immediately and then make decisions that are informed on what they’ve learned.
- The ability to deliver what the customers want – proper use of big data has helped companies to come up with new products/services. By being able to gauge the needs and satisfaction of their customers, businesses can adequately meet the needs of their customers. Thanks to big data analytics, a growing number of companies are able to create new products capable of meeting the customers’ needs.
Big data is here to stay and the sooner you embrace it, the better for your company. When considered without refinement, big data may appear like a robust and unmanageable mess of randomly collected information.
If you dare take it in this context, the most probable thing you will do is to ignore it. Resist the temptation of ignoring it because when you do, you will miss a key opportunity. You would be doing your business a great disservice.
The first step towards the extraction of valuable customer data is to embrace the fact that good customer data is lying somewhere and then have the readiness to mine through it.
2. Prepare yourself to invest in Analytics
Once a company has acknowledged the potential that lies in big data, the next thing is to invest in the right resources. You need the right talent and tools to successfully maneuver through a mountain of information and return with the most important data for your organization.
One of the most serious considerations that your company should make is allocating a portion of the operational budgets to data analytics. A good number of large enterprises dedicate an entire department to this activity.
While it is a good move, small organizations with limited budgets need to understand that it is not the only way to accomplish useful analytics. Of utmost importance is to strike a balance by finding an analytics solution – in the form of personnel or software – fit for the company’s size as well as the budgetary requirements.
Today, the ability to take advantage of data analytics and insights have the potential to make or break an organization. Nearly every firm is fighting for an advantage, with others fearing disruption, as far as the use of big data and predictive analytics is concerned.
For companies to harvest the benefits of data-driven business initiatives, they must make intentional investments in both existing and new analytics tools and the necessary support infrastructure.
Here are some of the reasons why senior managers must seriously consider investing in analytics tools and talents:
- The maturity of analytics gives companies a more powerful competitive position thanks to the incredible mix of historical and almost-real-time data, and the capacity to merge and analyze all this information – mainly because disruption happens across all industries. The best thing is those analytics are useful across different industries and different departments in organizations. See the image below.
- Investments in sophisticated analytics give marketing departments vital insights on how best to engage with customers. Access to historical data helps marketers determine successful past programs and then deploy predictive algorithms to ensure more success in the future. With the right tools, companies can identify new opportunities and future market trends at a greater speed than they do now.
- Investments in deeper analytics give businesses an upper hand as far as gaining an in-depth understanding of the target market is concerned. Today, customer segmentation goes beyond elements such as gender, age, and location. The availability of advanced analytics such as artificial intelligence and access to third-party data has gone a long way in illuminating the digital footprints of online consumers.
Decision-makers in organizations can now study other factors such as affluence, price sensitivity levels, affinities to the various existing brands and unique behaviors of potential customers. Besides age and gender, firms can now embrace other ways of segmenting their customers, and in turn, satisfactorily meet the varying needs of their customers.
A good example is within the millennial generation. Even though they belong in the same age group, their needs might vary depending on their affluence, sensitivity to different price levels and numerous other things. Sophisticated analytics enable companies to further segment their customers, and use that information in all their product development strategies.
- Companies that invest in sophisticated analytics experience higher growth than before. According to Forbes Insights, firms that see themselves as pacesetters (within their industry) in analytics, and have implemented a company-wide analytics strategy are witnessing more than 7 percent revenue growth.
So, how can an organization set itself apart in the use of data analytics?
The image below highlights nine areas – classified into three categories – where a firm can seek to outshine its competitors.
3. Collect the Right Customer Data
Acknowledging the existence and importance of big data and investing in the right analytics isn’t enough. Measures must be put in place to ensure the collection of not just any data, but the right data.
And what type of data are we talking about?
- Basic buyer information
In the case of B2B companies, basic buyer information should include the name of the contact person and the organization they work for, their email address, phone number, position in the firm, the industry, as well as the company’s revenue. Besides being able to contact the buyer, this basic information will help you understand how your product can solve their problems.
In the case of B2C firms, the collection of basic information is pretty easy. Make sure to capture their name, age, gender, location, email address and phone number, and important details such as their profession and household income. At this point, you only need enough information to build a basic profile and also contact them whenever a need arises.
This information is largely available during the buying process, particularly in the online checkout process. In B2B cases, a simple Google search can help you get the basic information of a company you are eyeing for.
- Who makes the buying decision?
An invaluable piece of information that your sales and marketing team must have is the decision power that your customer bears. If you operate in a B2B industry, determine if the contact person needs the approval of C-suite/management to make an initial or repeat purchases of products/services from your company.
If you run a B2C business it is important to determine if your customers can buy without consulting anyone, or if the purchase of the product/service in question requires family consultations.
By ascertaining these factors, you will know which marketing approach to use. For instance, in a B2B company, marketers will know whether to target their marketing campaigns to the upper-level management or specific individuals who make buying decisions within the company.
Once you’ve established that the C-suite of the company you are targeting must approve the buying decision, you may utilize relevant tools capable of simplifying the process for you and your target. In B2C, your sales and marketing team can easily determine if there is a need to also target the spouses of their target buyers.
- What makes your customers stick with you?
You need to gather data about why your customers choose your company. Consumers stick with brands for various reasons. For some, the quality of the product is the key thing.
For others, it is the speed with which they are served. On the other hand, there are customers who prioritize personalization over elements such as quality and speed of service.
It can be problematic when you cannot pinpoint why people or institutions buy your products. For instance, think of a situation where your customers appreciate the level of personal customer service you accord.
Assume you aren’t aware of this important fact. You wake up one morning and decide to be less personal, in order to increase the speed with which you serve them. That mistake could cost you a lot of customers.
Do you realize how important it is to identify the reason your customers are still buying from you? The only way you are going to find out what they value most is by asking them. Use that knowledge to give them more of what they love and appreciate to not only keep them coming but to also earn voluntary brand ambassadors.
- How did your customers discover your business?
If you’ve ever filled a company’s online survey as a customer, you must have come across a question seeking to know how you found them. You probably wondered why this kind of information is necessary. Well, that piece of information holds the key to your business’ continued existence.
More importantly, the response you get will help you determine the marketing strategies that are working for you and the ones that are a complete waste of time and resources.
If you discover that some of the new customers you’ve been getting have been referred by friends and family, then you’ve already earned brand evangelists. It is easy to identify them. Once you do, reward them. You have no idea what such a simple act can bring back.
If your social media campaigns and other marketing techniques haven’t been as impactful as you had hoped, find out why to re-evaluate your strategy and seek better ways to make them more effective.
Apart from simply asking, there are other effective ways of how you can see how new customers are finding your business. Some are quite simple as setting up Google Analytics and tracking your email list among others.
- What are the chances of your customers recommending your products/services?
Again, this is a straightforward question that you can ask your customers via a survey aimed at serving them better. It is one of the most effective techniques for determining how happy your customers are with your brand.
Don’t confuse it with asking a customer if they are happy with your products. That’s an entirely different thing.
The idea is to ascertain their willingness to put their reputation at stake by recommending your brand. The question of whether they can recommend you to their friends and family triggers more thought-out responses.
Keep track of your Net Promoter Score (NPS) to monitor customer satisfaction. Among the things that make NPS an attractive tool for customer feedback is its simplicity and user-friendliness.
It offers easy-to-interpret results and data that can be swiftly be distributed by the customer service employees to sales and marketing as well as product development teams.
For many companies, NPS is their go-to tool when they want to hear the feedback of their customers. They haven’t made a cornerstone in their feedback gathering process just because of the benefits it offers customer service teams. Rather, firms invest in it because, over time, they experience an enhanced customer experience.
In a nutshell, NPS helps businesses to align their teams, identify product improvement areas and also to measure word-of-mouth as well as customer loyalty. Businesses also use NPS as a benchmark on issues to do with customer quality.
Don’t forget to ask the customers why they give you whatever score they do. With the responses you get, you can tweak your product or the overall customer experience, and hopefully, raise your score even higher.
Resist the temptations to ignore your detractors. While conversations with unhappy customers can be quite difficult or even discouraging at times, it is important to understand the imminent challenges to help improve your product/service offering.
Even if it means engaging an outside party to get information from your detractors, seek to know the exact areas that need to be changed. That way, you will know what to do, why, and when. Besides, once you start implementing the changes they point out, detractors will realize that you care and before long, they become promoters.
At the same time, do not take your promoters for granted. While you might want to concentrate on understanding the negative feedback you receive from detractors, understand that promoters’ feedback is more important.
Study the positive messages to better understand and also refine the profile of your target market and marketing messages. While at it, identify strategies and supporting solutions that promoters can utilize to make the most out of your product or service.
By engaging both the promoters and detractors, you will start to see the much-desired NPS change.
4. Sync Your Customer Service Data
Best practices in the management of customer service data demand that companies pursue customer data integration.
The process entails syncing the data that the company needs (say about website visitors, leads, customers or any person/firm that has had previous interactions with your brand/product into the tools that the company has invested in. The major goal is to ensure that all your tools and teams work together seamlessly.
Siloing is a prevalent problem with customer service data. Data silos are said to occur when data belonging to a given team is kept in isolation and hence inaccessible to other organizational departments. This can be problematic.
Consider a situation where the sales and marketing team is not confident of the leads they are attracting because they don’t have access to customer insights gathered by the customer service teams. Such occurrences incapacitate a company’s efficiency and consequently hindering both profitability and growth.
One effective way of making this happen is to find the right data integration. This helps your systems to talk to each other and also makes collaboration between the various teams seamless.
On the other hand, syncing customer service data comes with a lot of benefits as shown below:
- It saves time – syncing of customer service data helps to eliminate the manual exportation and importation of customer data and hence the time-saving advantage. What is more, the syncing process is usually performed automatically. This means that your employees can spend the time saved on other productive activities.
- Data consistency is guaranteed – For starters, data is entered only once by the responsible employee. As such, it is always updated, complete and free of human errors and duplication.
- Improved customer service – one of the most important components in the delivery of world-class customer service experience is reliable customer data. By empowering your teams with consistent and relevant information, you give them the ability to enhance customer relationships and in turn, generate increased sales within a shorter time frame than before.
- Greater employees’ productivity – it is the pride of every management to see increased productivity amongst its employees. As employees struggle in their own ways to become better at what they do, you can make it simpler for them. Take away the need for them to search for pieces of customer information in different applications. Make it possible for them to have data at their fingertips. By spending minimal time on routine operations, your employees’ productivity will increase significantly and this will reflect on the efficiency and profitability of your company. It’s a win-win for everyone, really.
However, collecting customer service data is not enough. What’s more important is how you use the information you obtain from your customers. How you utilize the information may break or make your company. By doing everything possible to make the most out of customer service data, you can gain a competitive advantage leading to sustained growth and increased profitability in the long run.
The above tips should help you make maximum use of customer service data to give your customers first-class experiences. You will progress quickly from making the customers happy to delight them, and finally, turning them into brand evangelists.
As already mentioned, pay attention to and act on both positive and negative feedback from your company. Use positive feedback to make the customer experience even better and the negative feedback to correct the mistakes that your company has been making.
Want to make the most of your customer data? Talk to our experts today to learn how you can leverage customer support data in an affordable way!