Blog 06 July 2021

Customer data: the way to win the never-ending customer satisfaction race

by Richard Farrell

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The ability to store, analyse and apply customer data across the entire consumer experience is set to be the new battleground for service providers in the post-pandemic world.

Customer satisfaction as a differentiator is nothing new. But the ways in which that satisfaction can be met has evolved dramatically in recent years – and then even more significantly over the past year due to the impacts of the pandemic. With more and more customers having, or choosing, to use online as a primary portal, while still expecting the personability of service that they’d receive through direct communication, the onus on businesses is twofold. One, they must use customer data to inform more bespoke service propositions. And two, this must be achieved through a unified view of said customer data.

Overarching both of these elements is the need for more intuitive, silo-breaking and integrative application development.


A lack of unification


We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’re on the phone listening to an automated message that tries to direct us to a website that we’re already sat in front of, and that has failed us. ‘Hence the phone call…’ We try an email, but how quick will the response to that be, or will it even reach an agent? Oh, and there’s a chatbot option, but that leaves me waiting on a fourth line of communication, simultaneously.

It becomes a minefield for both the customer and the business’s employees to maintain a sense of consistency, visibility or understanding when there isn’t a unified context to work from. What’s really required is a conjoined view of that customer’s data – a view that truly represents both the engagement, and prospective tasks. A view that provides both ongoing and real-time insights that enable businesses to deliver a level of service that instils trusts and retains custom.


Connecting the application spectrum


Step one is finding an optimum way to attain and store data – something which sounds obvious, but that many organisations have struggled to master. Failing to address this most significant of aspects is often the reason why the end view is so fragmented, unattainable or unproductive.

Part of the issue is knowing where to turn to when moving away from legacy operations. After all, modern software solutions by their very nature showcase smart, digital ways to integrate, creating a difficult decision before you’ve even thought about the use of data. Outsourcing is a common solution to this end, but this also incurs the possibility of vendors charging you more to actually access your own data – the very reason you sought to upgrade in the first place.

This is where robotic process automation (RPA) has found a niche and an appeal – and offered a solution. It extends the scope of automation to include all types of applications (Windows, green screen terminals, and even hand-written documents), alleviating some of the pressures from those initial, specialised options. With RPA, you don’t need individual API-connectivity solutions, as leading low-code platforms will already have all the data interchange methods you need. It’s a simplified, unified, solution to a complex problem.


Feedback data isn’t a sprint, it’s a never-ending race


From there, businesses can turn attention to how this more viable infrastructure can lend to enhanced data visibility. In this respect, it’s all about connecting siloes and business units.

By collecting feedback using appropriate channels and processing data in workflows, immediate action can be taken in relevant business units – but in a way that also informs adjacent units so that an overall picture is formed. This naturally aids the process of monitoring and reporting on customer trends – both individual and as an overall customer base.

This way of working requires a bit of a mindset shift. In the race for customer insight, too often data collation is treated as a starting gun which launches strategy from then on. Rather, optimum customer service is a marathon, not a sprint. Or better still, through feedback data, it should be a never-ending race.

Feedback data will highlight failures, breaks in processes, poor customer journeys and recurring obstacles. It will also help to identify areas for improvement on a continuous basis. Trends, consumer preferences and markets – as we’ve seen – can change quickly, so it’s vital to create an infrastructure that simply and effectively generates feedback in an evergreen and adaptive way.


Low-code as a facilitator of customer-centricity


Going back to the mindset, or cultural, transition that organisations need to go on – this transformation has to revolve around the customer, not the technology. You’re not accruing information to give yourself a technical headache or to boast the biggest data centre; you’re doing so to inform more bespoke services and experiences, so that customers continue to return and spend money with you.

By fostering trust and loyalty, it also becomes more likely that customers will continue to share data with you, ensuring more credible and useful data in the future… and so the positive cycle continues.

It’s a theory that has traditionally fallen down, even in the most high-profile of places. In the US, due to federal mandate, the majority of hospitals have patient portals, but they are not used by the majority of patients. Now imagine how damaging that lack of input is across numerous disjointed apps or platforms – which is the norm for most organisations.

Put simply, businesses should start with the desired outcomes for all stakeholders, then define the ideal process that revolves around personalisation and feedback. And to build such an infrastructure, and create such a unified infrastructure, business should aim high, by turning to low-code platforms. As a key precursor for composite architecture, we are seeing these technologies increasingly being grouped together with the likes of RPA and other intelligent automation technologies to deliver powerful results for businesses.

With so much pressure hinging on the ability to attract, satisfy and retain customers in the online world, businesses need to build their applications quickly, to integrate them effectively, and to end up with a simple and unified facility for their ever-growing data deluge. Low-code platforms are a key way to achieve just that. And the way to ensure your businesses finishes first in that never-ending race towards customer satisfaction.

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