Scale and Strategy: Key Weapons on the 2020 CX Battlefield
In 2020, customer experience (CX) is set to be the battlefield on which companies will compete. The victors are likely to be those organisations that have two key weapons in their armoury: first, the ability to manage at scale unprecedented volumes of data, and second, a strategy for marshalling that data in a way that enables them to meet customer expectations of seamless, convenient, and personalised interactions.
Let’s first take a look at scale. While year-on-year growth of big data volumes is nothing new, 2020 will see developments that will add rocket fuel to the trend. Several of these have significant implications for companies’ CX strategies.
Take the rollout of 5G, for example, which is expected to drive consumer data consumption to dizzying new heights, as smartphone users scramble to take advantage of greater speed and performance.
According to research from telecommunications company Ericsson, half of all users expect their mobile data usage to increase significantly on 5G, and one in five could see it increase by a factor of 10, reaching 200GB per month.
A great many of users’ activities will involve interacting with companies via mobile applications (which themselves will take advantage of 5G’s benefits by growing in sophistication), making purchases, and sharing their opinions about products and services online. All this data holds valuable information about customer purchase intentions, preferences, and buying habits.
Then there’s the gathering momentum of the “internet of things” (IoT). As new smart devices come online, they transmit data back to their original manufacturer about their condition and usage, creating a direct link between that company and its end customers.
This opens up vast new opportunities for manufacturers to offer customers add-on products and services, such as ink cartridges for printers and annual servicing for connected cars.
Given the sheer effort involved, especially when organisations are increasingly ingesting a firehose of multi-structured data from social media or IoT devices, for example, it’s no surprise that manual data management processes are no match for the task.
For this reason, many organisations are looking to automate vital data management tasks, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Increasingly, these technologies can deal with the work of parsing, transforming, and joining data for consumption.
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They can also tag privacy-sensitive data so it can be identified for classification and governance, flag potential data quality issues or duplications, and apply data quality rules to a whole dataset.
In Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform (IDP), these capabilities are provided by the CLAIRE engine. The metadata collected by the IDP provides a vast trove of information that CLAIRE’s algorithms use to automate tasks and make smart recommendations on how data should be handled.
CX and data strategy
But even those organisations with the capability to capture and manage all that data will still need to put it to work on building better customer experiences.
This is where strategy comes into the picture. CX includes, but goes way beyond, providing better customer service (how a brand interacts with a customer at various touchpoints).
In fact, CX is nothing less than the total sum of customers’ perceptions of how well a brand knows them and treats them — and that relies on managing data relating to every visit, every click, every opinion.
This means that companies with a progressive data strategy have much to gain in CX terms. A recent Harvard Business Review article describes how retailers that deploy beacons inside their stores have seen up to a 15% lift in retail foot traffic and a 73% increase in the likelihood of purchases by shoppers.
In other words, retailers track shoppers’ precise locations and push to their mobile devices targeted advertising and offers relating to products in their immediate proximity.
This has made it incredibly convenient for shoppers to take advantage of discounts, with the knock-on effect of increasing basket sizes.
A progressive data strategy is also at the heart of sending consistent messages to customers about your brand and what it stands for.
By contrast, companies without a customer-centric data strategy — and a scalable architecture to match — may quickly become overwhelmed.
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While data is essential to every step in a customer journey, just having a lot of it isn’t enough. It needs to be carefully organised around steps in that journey — but only after having been cleansed and secured.
These processes are vital because if inaccurate data can damage a customer’s perception of a brand, then a data breach may well terminate the relationship for good.
In other words, just because companies have access to more customer data than ever before, they still must carefully and responsibly manage that data.
Ethical, trustworthy businesses, and their leaders, understand that they don’t own the data — the customer does.
With that in mind, organisations know they must act as good custodians of customer data and work to win trust by keeping it safe and using it only for purposes to which the customer has previously agreed.
In 2020, CX will be everything — and companies that don’t recognise that fact risk getting passed over by discriminating customers who want consistent, seamless, and secure interactions.
No doubt, customers will be quick to take their business elsewhere if their expectations aren’t met.
Most organisations still have work to do, even as they head into battle. But there are positive signs. According to a recent Gartner announcement, nearly half of IT leaders plan on increasing their analytics investments to support digital transformation in the coming year.
And as Gartner research vice president Mike Rollings points out “It’s impossible to be a digital business without being a data-driven enterprise. And, increasingly, data and analytics is part of every business discussion about digital transformation.”
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