Meet customer expectations with the right analytics

Meet customer expectations with the right analytics

The transformation must begin at the top. You must move the entire company to get it done, writes Ben Morgan of Accenture NZ

Ben Morgan of Accenture NZ

Ben Morgan of Accenture NZ

It’s no secret customers have high expectations. They want organisations to meet them where they are and when they want. In a world where customers expectations are ‘liquid’ and shaped not by industry or competitors but the experiences that fill our everyday lives; getting it right is more important than ever.

The invisible force behind many of the organisations and the experiences we love is the real time data analytics.

What does this mean? Real-time analytics is when huge amounts of data points are processed as they arrive, to provide consumer insights. These analytics are getting more powerful and useful as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cloud computing combine to connect the dots across the data to identify actionable insights.

New Zealand companies, with their global peers, understand the importance of customer analytics and believe real-time analytics will become a strategic priority over the next couple of years.

A report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by SAS, Intel and Accenture, Real-Time Analytics: The Key to Unlocking Customer Insights & Driving the Customer Experience, was based on responses and interviews with more than 560 global business leaders, including leaders from New Zealand.

The report found 44 per cent of respondents had seen a “significant increase” in both growth and revenue generation as a result from their customer analytics efforts, while 58 per cent reported significant improvements in customer retention and loyalty.

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents say they’ve increased their spending on real-time customer analytics solutions over the past year.

This trend of embracing real-time customer analytics has begun to take root in a number of consumer industries — led by early adopters in retail, banking, and telecommunication— as well as digital startups.

For example, New Zealand’s Lightbox has been able to cut customer churn by using data analytics technology from Spark subsidiary, Qrious.

However, the study also showed that few (16 per cent) felt their brands were “very effective” at delivering real-time interactions across various channels, while one third (30 per cent) said they were “not effective at all”; despite that, half (51 per cent) felt real-time customer analytics had given them a better understanding of the customer journey.

It seems there is a mandate from the top down to be able to perform real-time analytics to improve customer experience – yet very few organisations have the technology, people and processes in place to execute the strategy.

What are the barriers? The study shows the biggest gaps in real-time customer analytics capabilities are in the areas of accessing customer data, performing analytics on that data, and taking action based on the resulting insights.

Real-time customer analytics requires much more than a technology shift alone, the report found.

It begins by understanding what you want to achieve with this data in real time; a good first step to make before thinking about IT infrastructure or the cultural shift that needs to happen.

To overcome the challenges inherent in becoming a real-time, customer-focused enterprise, the transformation must begin at the top. You must move the entire company to get it done.

Responsibility for the real-time customer experience tends to rest with the CMO or CEO at most companies, while responsibility for real time customer technology resides with the CIO or CTO.

Less than a third of survey respondents (29 per cent) say these stakeholders are well aligned, with the majority rating their alignment middle of the road.

Ideally, companies will have the budget and CEO-level support to create a foundational customer data asset that provides a 360-degree view of the customer. Those that don’t can prioritise cases that are possible given data currently available.

The report recommends determining the technology infrastructure (e.g., data platforms, decision engines, content management systems) and organisational changes necessary to deliver the desired outcomes – and building for scale. Make sure your technical infrastructure can handle the volume and speed of your real-time data aspirations. The broad adoption of real-time analytics takes a significant investment of time, effort, and resources.

In fact, many companies find the idea of transforming their entire organisation overwhelming. But it’s important to recognise these efforts are most successful when they’re iterative.

Transformation doesn’t have to happen all at once — it just has to happen.

Ben Morgan is Accenture Interactive NZ Lead

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