Let me ask you this: Do you understand your customers’ journeys? Can you anticipate their needs? Are you well-positioned to meet their expectations?
There’s a focus lately on organisations to be able to achieve a holistic representation of all their customer data – a single view – that will allow them to deliver the consistent, personalised experiences that customers expect.
If you don’t have this single view, you’re at risk of providing your customers with the wrong experience. And whether you’re selling a product they’ve already bought or targeting them when they’re not at their happiest, a bad experience can potentially cost you customers.
But this single view is so much more than just providing a great customer experience.
Caroline Maillols, Squiz’s global head of customer relationship management (CRM), believes that the benefits to your business are both significant and limitless. “You’ll put your organisation in a position to create lifelong relationships with your customers while improving business processes and cutting costs,” she says.
So, how do you achieve this single view of your customer, and what will it mean for your business?
Build your customer relationships by understanding their journey
When you achieve a single view of your customer, you’ll be able to see, at a glance, their full customer journey. The ability to understand this journey and anticipate their needs will define your relationship with your customers.
“My friend told me of a recent customer experience he had at the airport with his family,” says Caroline. “They were waiting on the tarmac to board a plane and, because it was sunny and they had their baby with them, were trying to stand in the shade. A member of the crew noticed this and brought them an umbrella. Now, this wasn’t that person’s job, and he wasn’t asked to provide that service. But because he was observing the customer, he was able to deliver an experience that was targeted, personalised, and – most important – made my friend’s life easier.”
When you’re talking about this single view, it’s not only about your CRM. Ultimately, it’s about integrating all of the customer data you’re collecting from your different systems.
“Integration is one of the pillars of successful digital transformation,” says Caroline. “Without it, you won’t be able to have that single view.”
It’s also important to ensure that you’re capturing the right data, so you have all the information you need in order to know who you’re talking to and what their expectations are at that point in their journey.
Improve advocacy of your business and increase revenue
Once you’ve begun delivering more personalised experiences, you’ll start building strong relationships with your customers. “You’ll have an advantage over your competition, because the better you are at building these relationships, the greater your reputation in the industry will be,” says Caroline.
One way organisations are measuring success is a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program, with one of the most used metric being the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a tool that gauges customer experience. By surveying your customers, you’ll get an indication of how happy they are and how likely they are to recommend your brand. This is the best type of promotion, because customer advocacy costs your business nothing and can potentially provide you with immediate benefits.
“You won’t see your customers promoting your brand without that one view – giving them the right experience to make them happy,” says Caroline.
You’ll also be set to increase revenue by growing the lifetime value of your customers. “Attaining a single view of your customers costs money – integrating your systems, doing research, and adjusting your business processes to meet expectations,” says Caroline. “That’s a big investment. At the end of the day, however, if you’re doing this well, you’re going to begin seeing a return on this investment.”
When you invest time in building a single view of your customers at the beginning of your relationship with them, you’ll be in a better position to easily identify the next best bets on their journey and streamline future interactions with them.
Then, when you’re measuring this efficiency on a broader scale, you’ll inherently improve your business processes for future customer discussions.
“If you’re constantly reinventing the wheel with each new customer, you’ll be wasting plenty of time and money,” says Caroline. “By understanding your customers and then applying this knowledge to your business, you’ll start generating benefits and see your ROI.”
Position your organisation for the future
Over the last 15 years, the industry has grown in leaps and bounds. Although organisations initially implemented CRM systems as databases to store and share information, they weren’t taking advantage of the large amounts of data they were collecting. This has since changed.
Thanks to the single customer view, CRM systems can now predict expectations and recommend future experiences for you to provide. “With the rise of data-driven decision-making, artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest trend we’re seeing in CRM,” says Caroline.
For example, earlier this year, SugarCRM announced Candace, an AI-powered agent that assists users in business decision-making. Candace will use in-house data and external sources to make recommendations based on the information it collects. It’s important to note that it’s the quality of the data you’re collecting that defines the power of the algorithms responsible for providing these recommendations.
“Organisations should be ensuring that their data is clean and organised,” Caroline says. “They need to be collecting the right information so they’ll be best-positioned to take advantage of these future advancements.”
Understand your customers and start seeing business benefits today
If you’re not already building this in-depth understanding of your customers and their journeys, now is the time to start. “Ask the questions that will help you shape their profile,” Caroline suggests. “Listen and capture that data so you can continue to improve at providing those personalised experiences.”
Once you’re able to attain this single view, your organisation will begin to reap the benefits of the strengthened business relationships that will follow. Your business processes will improve, you’ll see a greater return on your investments, and you’ll be able to measure your efficiency on a broad scale.
Begin collating your data today, so that you can anticipate and meet your customers’ needs tomorrow.