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Digital Experience Consistency Starts With Reliable Customer Data

As published in CMSWire at http://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/digital-experience-consistency-starts-with-reliable-customer-data/

Sometimes, in their eagerness to deliver excellent customer experiences, organizations design "special" moments for individual customer touch points.

Tactics like this have multiple issues. 

First, that delightful moment you created for a single touch point has nothing to do with what the customer wants from you. 

Second, the level of service quality that moment promises can't be backed up by any of your other processes and systems, which injects inconsistency in the customer journey. Customers witness some random flash of genius, which leaves them more confused than delighted.

Consistent Experiences Give As Well As They Get

Delivering excellent customer service means providing what your customers want and delivering it consistently. 

Receiving a consistent experience is an implicit contract between the company and the customer — a brand promise. If your company keeps delivering what you've promised, it builds trust and loyalty with your customers.

Consistency doesn't only benefit the customer, it also streamlines processes across the supply chain. Consistency takes inefficiencies out of the system and makes all functional groups more effective.

Customers Don't Care About Your Silos

Think of the options customers have: channels like email, phone, web, brick and mortar and social media. Online they interact with portals, knowledge bases, virtual agents, and chats.

While customers are taking action on these channels, behind the scenes they are being routed to departments including sales, support, billing and ordering. And each of these departments in turn is collecting customer information in multiple systems including CRM, marketing automation, order management, ERP, shipping, and support.

This fragments customer data across many systems. And the problem is only getting worse as businesses grow and technology progresses. Companies are adding more systems, more channels and are confronted with an ever-increasing volume of customer data.

Even though your organization is comprised of departments, the customer thinks of you as a single entity. They expect you to give them consistent and quick responses no matter which department they reach out to or the channel they choose. 

So, to deliver the consistent experience to the customer, across all channels and multiple departments, the first step is to bring together all data to create a reliable customer data foundation: a unified view of the customer and the single source of truth.

A Customer Data Foundation Delivers Consistency

Consistent experience across the customer’s journey
All channels must have access to the same consolidated customer information. Customer information includes the profile data from all internal, external and third-party data subscriptions and information about omnichannel interactions and transactions. 

When all applications and channels access the same customer information with a common understanding of customer preferences, interests and choices, the omnichannel customer service becomes consistent and the experience repeatable. The customer journey may start when they explore a product on your website, then progress to an email inquiry about the product, to an order from a mobile device, to the in store pick up and then a call to customer service to get setup help. 

When channels share the common customer information, this journey becomes smooth with consistent delivery of a desired experience for each interaction.

Consistent service across departments
Consistent experience also means that customers get a uniform, predictable service from each functional group. 

When a customer contacts sales, marketing, billing or support, to provide the appropriate service, groups must have access to all relevant information provisioned by a single source of truth. If sales only works from the data in the ordering system, marketing only from engagement applications and call centers only from support applications, they will all have just a piece of the information that may not provide the complete context or insight into the customer’s preferences and needs. 

Consistent business operations
Customer satisfaction also depends on consistency in fulfillment. Every time a customer purchases an item or reports an issue they want reliable service quality. To make service quality repeatable, processes in the organization must be well-defined, documented and monitored and have the shared understanding of the product, taxation codes, discounts, offers, compliance and SLAs, in addition to the reliable customer information.

Reliable Data: The Heart of Experience Consistency

To deliver consistent customer experience, organizations must ensure well-defined processes as well as access to complete, correct and current customer information. Modern data management technologies allow organizations to build data-driven applications that provide a 360-degree view of the customer. 

Applications like CRM, ERP and support are designed to execute certain business processes and not to curate and manage complete customer information. 

Data-driven applications connect to all internal and external data sources as well as third-party subscriptions to blend customer information. They match, merge and relate the data to create a single consolidated source of truth, as well as curate and cleanse data continuously. Modern data management provisions reliable customer information to all business and analytics applications accessed by all functional groups to ensure a consistent customer experience across channels and functional groups.

Intelligent Recommendations Align Teams

The large volumes of customer data can make it challenging for marketing and sales to understand each contact’s unique needs and preferences and figure out the next engagement steps.

Machine learning and predictive analytics enable intelligent recommendations, based on a customer’s data and preferences. Such advice can guide sales and marketing teams on how to engage with their clients and suggest the most relevant content or offer to present. 

Intelligent recommendations not only allow you to send the most relevant offers and information to the customer, but also bring experience consistency across all members of an organizations. With such input, every sales person knows the next step in the engagement based on a customer’s profile and preferences. 

Such next-best-action recommendations help sales, marketing and support groups with decision management and make them consistent in their communications and service delivery.

Your customer satisfaction and loyalty depends on the consistency with which your company delivers the expected experience. Maintaining this uniformity in all interactions, transactions and across all departments requires everyone has access to the reliable customer data. 

When all channels, applications and analytics leverage the same customer information for all customer operations and insights, you create consistent customer engagements and your company enjoys higher operational efficiencies and increased customer trust.

About the Author
Ajay Khanna is the vice president, Product Marketing at Reltio, the creator of data-driven applications. Prior to joining Reltio he held senior positions at Veeva Systems, Oracle and other software companies including KANA, Progress and Amdocs.