So you want to be a customer-first organisation?


Think big, start small, take the analytics-driven approach

You want to be a customer-first organisation, but are the benefits worth it? Forrester reports that customer experience leaders enjoy 17 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) as opposed to laggards at 3 percent.[1]

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are embarking on digital transformation – a term that’s become synonymous with putting a slick digital front-end on traditional processes. In reality, true digital transformation is about adapting business culture and processes to work with new technology. This isn’t simple and presents many challenges that must be overcome in order to put the customer first, including:

  1. Functional silos: Beneath the glossy front-end of the customer experience machine sit functional and data silos created because many companies organise themselves around products or channels, not the customer.
  2. Legacy systems: Systems of record and channel-specific technologies, often with their own rules and logic, and little ability to talk to each other, fragment customer journeys.
  3. Cultural change: The various departments that contribute to creating a customer-first organisation have different objectives and key performance indicators. This undermines the collaboration and cultural change necessary to put the customer at the core.

Unfortunately, customers don’t care that your organisation is built on complex legacy structures in the back-end. When they interact with you they expect accurate and timely responses and decisions, regardless of the channel through which they engage.

What time is real time?

These days, organisations need to be able to respond to changing customer expectations and provide a seamless joined-up customer experience at every point of interaction, often in real time. The issue is that "real time" means different things to different organisations.

Many believe that a good real-time customer experience constitutes the ability to react immediately to what the customer is doing right now in a specific channel. Displaying a banner ad based on where a customer clicks on your website, or triggering an encouraging email when someone abandons their cart are nice tactics, but fall short of delivering a customer-first experience.

Excellent real-time customer experiences can only be delivered when you truly understand your customers: and their wants and needs; their price sensitivity and preferences; their propensity to buy; their lifetime value; and their service expectations.

Being a true customer-first organisation requires the capability to collect and analyse the data that customers make available to you, then use it (responsibly) to deliver value back to them. Today, these sources are expanding to include structured and unstructured data from social and multimedia feeds, streaming data from beacons and devices, voice calls, transactions and browsing histories.

Better faster, real-time decisioning

Once you’ve analysed the data to uncover valuable insights about your customers, you need a decisioning framework that allows analytical insights to be applied to both historical and real-time contextual data. It must encompass your organisational goals, all the potential offers and actions that a customer could be presented with, eligibility, budgetary and other constraints in order to infuse deep customer understanding into the decision-making process for each individual customer. Only then will you be empowered to make highly accurate decisions across your business about the right next action, next offer, next content or next recommendation and deliver that real time. Not having these capabilities could signal the loss of competitive ground.

Leading retailers, financial services, telco and media organisations have seen significant improvements in customer experience, profitability and reduced costs by using a customer decision hub.

Where do you start?

Choose a use case; a business challenge you would like to overcome. Once you have achieved your intended goals, replicate the model across other use cases or business problems. This is best illustrated with some of the work we have implemented with a leading European broadcaster and for a well-known insurer.

The broadcaster wanted to use analytical-driven decisions to increase conversion rates. Within weeks its customer decision hub was up and running and over a 6-week period the organisation saw a significant increase in the uptake of online upsell recommendations.

A global insurer used a customer decision hub approach to automate complex claims decisions that were being handled in the call centre. They were able to cut average settlement decisions from 28 days to making decision in real time, and saw a 26 percent improvement in decision-making accuracy while also providing a superior real-time experience for customers.

Get started

We can help you brainstorm your first project and get started with less risk.

Find out how we can help you to become a customer-first enterprise - read Customer intelligence for the always-on economy.

[1] Customer Experience Drives Revenue Growth, Forrester Research, Inc., June 2016


About Author

Tiffany Carpenter

Head of Customer Intelligence, SAS UK & Ireland

Tiffany has been helping organisations achieve bottom line results from their customer and marketing strategies for over 20 years. She specialises in helping companies gain deeper insight into their customers’ buying habits, preferences and lifestyles, social relationships and influences on purchase behaviour and loyalty - and using this insight to make smarter, data-driven decisions. Every customer journey is unique and every touch point is an opportunity to nurture customer relationships and deepen customer intimacy. Tiffany helps organisations get in sync with each customer's journey – no matter how fragmented for a clear competitive advantage and a bigger, better ROI.

1 Comment

  1. Great article Tiffany. Really sharp on discussing the salient points that organisations are facing with making their customer journies as valuable and enjoyable as possible. All using the existing resources of data the organisation has. Thanks!

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