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How retailers can use data connectivity to enhance their customer experience

Jed MoleJune 16, 2015

Connecting the right data for the best retail customer experience

We’re overloaded with data. There are so many different types of data (big, small, smart) that it can be hard to know where to begin. “Big data” is a popular buzzword but what’s actually important is that the data is used to ensure a better experience for the customer. Having all this data is actually no use if it’s not connected properly. It’s like having a huge jigsaw with a picture of a beautiful rainbow on it. You know it’s a rainbow because it says so on the front of the box. All the individual pieces are colourful and beautiful to look at independently but they don’t quite make sense unless they’re connected up to the other pieces. This is what customer experience data is like.

Today’s customer expects a high-quality, personalised and preferential customer service experience. But this can’t be delivered without the right data connections in the right places.

The value of clear, cross-channel customer communication

Gartner research from earlier this year found that weak mobile customer service is harming customer engagement. The research predicted that by 2017, one third of all customer service interactions will still require the support of a more costly human intermediary.

Given the emphasis today on delivering a personalised customer experience, it’s more important than ever before that online and offline data is properly connected, whether it’s to support automated customer interfaces or to help customer service professionals add the human touch.

Recognising customers through connected data

Customers are humans, not machines. They not only behave like that, they want to be recognised as such. Therefore retailers’ focus needs to be less mechanical in its approach and far more geared toward the personal. The customer must be viewed as an individual, not a segment or subset member and the only way to do this is through data connectivity.

However, retailers can’t deliver a the best customer service experience unless the customer trusts them enough to give them the right data to do the job properly and to use it effectively and once the retailer has it, they must use it to deliver value.

The fact is that many retailers have been gathering data for years, and for too long it has had seemingly no value outside CRM programmes. But data onboarding technologies, such as Acxiom’s LiveRamp Connect, provide privacy-safe ways to connect customer data from the offline world to the digital marketing ecosystem.

Connecting data enables the retailer to be aware of “winning moment” opportunities, to drive appropriate and timely responses to customers’ triggers.

Retailers need to optimise the operational processes and systems to ensure consistent delivery, ensure the people who create the experiences at each touchpoint match the message and ensure the experience at each touchpoint meets the customer promise and brand expectation.

How Virgin Media used data to enhance the customer experience

Following a series of mergers, Virgin Media inherited numerous disparate customer databases. In order to harvest the right customer insights, the company needed to establish a single view of the customer across all of its business areas. It began using AbiliTec® matching technology and a centralised customer intelligence platform to connect customer records from its of ex-NTL and Telewest franchises and Virgin Mobile legacy systems to establish a consolidated view of its customers. This meant it could better target them with more relevant offers, enhancing their satisfaction and increasing loyalty.

So it’s pretty straightforward. The better you can connect the data, the better you can understand the customer. The better you can understand the customer, the better customer experience you can deliver. The better treatment they get, the more loyal they remain and the more they buy from you. Time to put those final pieces in place and enhance data connectivity.