Customer Data: Making The Most Out Of It

In this digital era where most business decisions are driven by customers, it’s more important than ever to know your customers on a deeper level – by understanding their experiences, behavior, and purchase needs. In that light, customer data is becoming a valuable asset for every business even as companies strive to tap into critical behavioral insights that can help them build strong customer relationships. 

So ask yourself, do you have the data required to understand your customers’ experiences and behavioral patterns? Can you personalize your interactions using that data?

The amount of customer data generated every day can be so overwhelming that you may not know where to start. Nevertheless, you must come up with an effective plan to organize and analyze this data so that you don’t miss out on important insights and trends. Here are essential tips that can help you create customer data strategies to gain insight from customer interactions and consequently get a competitive advantage.

Go Big With Your Customer Data Strategy

It’s common to focus on short-term insights instead of planning a long-term data analytics strategy. It’s essential to know that you might not be able to learn your customers’ purchase trends and behavioral patterns in a single interaction. It takes time to develop meaningful information from customer interactions.

Most organizations capture data in various forms, ranging from individual data elements like contact information to macro level information like trends in customer inquiries. Analyze the data you are capturing and prioritize what’s important to your organization’s goals.  

Analyzing business intelligence generated from your customer interactions is one way to gather input for your long-term data strategy. Understanding changes in behavior, such as an uptick in questions about a certain product, can help you understand your customer’s needs and desires. Or, tracking service levels by communication channel might help you understand where customers are feeling the most pain. Over time, you can use this information to come up with an engagement strategy that meets the overall needs of your customers. 

Prioritize Quality

Do you know which customer data is most important to your strategy? While most people strive to gather as much information as possible about their customers, depending on your data analytics goals, you might not need everything you’ve collected. For this reason, it’s important to identify the needs of your customers and your business objectives to ensure collected data adds value to your business. 

For example, if your customer data analytics strategy is meant to give you insights for a promotional campaign, you’ll want to gather metrics on product sales by product line. But, you’ll also need data at the customer level, so you can target your campaign to the right customer segment.

What are customers saying about the product in online reviews? Are they looking forward to new products in the same product line? Do you have a hot product within certain customer segments? While things like a customer’s location and preferred channel of communication are important data, getting into the details is very important if you want to get the most out of your customer data analytics strategy. 

Know the Rules Governing Customer Data

Are you familiar with the rules that govern customer data? While your business benefits by leveraging customer data, any form of data violation may turn things upside down. In almost every country, there are data privacy laws in place to regulate how customer information is collected, how data subjects are informed, and the extent of control they have over the data once it’s transferred.

As an entity, failing to follow applicable data policies might lead to heavy fines, expensive lawsuits, or prohibition of your site’s use in some jurisdictions. Get to know the rules both within your borders and internationally so that you know how to leverage customer data in a way that’s both useful and legal.

In some cases, you must get the consent of a customer before using or sharing their data. Also, it’s important to assure your customers that their data is safe and well-protected so they can share their information freely and with confidence in your ability to protect it.

Your support center is a great way to give customers and prospects this confidence. Data they provide, such as product preferences or contact information, should be available for them to review, update, or remove within a customer engagement center. This not only benefits them by giving them control, but it improves the quality of the underlying data because they can update it proactively. 

Centralize Your Customer Data

When it comes to data analytics, centralization is important. Your support team, sales agents, and marketing personnel should use the same data for brand consistency and a unified support experience. As customers interact with your brands through different channels, all the data should be universally accessible.

One way of achieving this is by integrating an omnichannel support platform into your website. With that, you can keep all your customer data in a single platform that everyone can access at any time. For instance, an omnichannel support platform like iService provides a single view of all your customer interactions. Whether it’s a customer email, live chat, or form submission, your support team and sales agents need to access this data in a single view of the customer’s interaction history. 

Focus On Customer Benefits

When you collect customer data, the first thing that often comes to mind is how you can use this information to improve your business. However, don’t overlook the value to the customers themselves. To encourage your customers to help you build your knowledge about them, they must understand the value they receive in return.

A common strategy for gathering data is offering a financial incentive to provide information. But in many cases, your customers will receive a better service experience when they collaborate with you. Educating them on the benefits of providing data, like specifying a preferred product or subscribing to a mailing list, can often yield a better return than offering a short-term reward, like a coupon.

The success of your business depends on customer satisfaction, so it’s important to focus on benefiting the customers when collecting data. From the data analytics insights you get, you can come up with better interaction strategies to improve your customer experience. Find out how you can use the data obtained to build meaningful relationships with your customers instead of focusing on the company’s exclusive benefits. Remember, when your customers are happy they’ll want to do business with you again and again.

Are you making the most out of your customer data? If yes, kudos for that. However, there’s always room for improvement. So, start leveraging these strategies to take the quality of your customer data to a new level.

Understanding Customer Touch Points and Their Impact

Whether you run a small business or a mega enterprise, understanding the individual transactions through which customers as well as prospects interact with your brand is an essential part of your customer experience strategy. You want to ensure customers are happy with every interaction whenever they connect with your customer service, website, sales staff, or any kind of marketing content. Since a customer’s journey entails several things that happen before, during, and after their experience with your brand, connecting these dots along their journey will help you improve your performance. 

That said, where do you start? 

First and foremost, you need to understand what customer touch points are before you delve deep into how they can impact your business. Let’s take a look.

What are customer touch points?

Customer touch points are simply defined as the points of interaction between a company and its customers across three main phases of a customer’s lifecycle – from initial awareness through post-purchase support. The touch points include the device being used, the channel where interactions occur (social media pages, live chat, email, phone, etc.), and the specific type of service requested and completed. These points of interaction have a great impact on how customers perceive your brand. Therefore, identifying your customer touchpoints is the very first step in creating a journey map that will help you manage their expectations effectively.

What are the key customer touch points for a business?

Customers interact with your brand at different points along their journey. However, key points of interaction along the customer journey map can be grouped into five phases, depending on when they get in touch with your brand: 

  • Awareness 
  • Discovery
  • Pre-purchase bonding
  • Purchase
  • Post-purchase support

This is just a summary of what a typical customer journey might look like. The phases might be different for every business depending on the type of offering. For instance, if you’re in the hotel industry you might want to expand the list to factor in key elements such as check-in, use of facility, check-out, and departure. 

It’s important to note that all these phases can either have a positive or negative impact on your interactions. For instance, if you fail to meet your customers’ expectations at any given point of their interaction with your brand, it turns out to be a negative experience that works against the success of your business. With that in mind, you’ll always endeavor to identify areas that need improvement and consequently improve your customers’ satisfaction.

Let’s review the different phases below:

  • Awareness

Customers get to know you when they interact with you across different channels, for example, your social media pages. With a well-structured brand awareness strategy you should be able to build meaningful relationships with your customers during this phase. They might get in touch with your brand through a social media post or an ad campaign that redirects them to your site where they’ll find the information they’re looking for. 

  • Discovery 

At this point, customers are aware of your brand and are looking for information about your product or service. They might want to read customers’ reviews to find out what others are saying about your product or browse through your website to learn more about your brand. If they’re struggling to get the information because your website is slow to load, that would be a point of friction. If you don’t provide a method for easily finding or requesting information, that could be another point of friction.

  • Pre-purchase bonding

During this phase, a customer wants to communicate with your brand before making a purchase. They can either contact your support team for help or request a demo to understand how a product works before making a decision. Here, a negative experience would be failing to respond to a customer’s query on time or trying to push them to purchase without the information they need. Your agents should be on standby to help the customers promptly whether it’s through email support or live chat support.

  • Purchase

What’s your check-out process like? Most customers sign in to check out, or is there an option to check out as a guest? At this point, a customer wants to complete their purchase promptly and you should make it possible for them. If they have to go through many steps like signing up to check out, they’re most likely going to give up on the way. 

Do you require them to enter more details than you need on your contact forms? Research has shown that as you add more fields required to submit a contact form, the level of conversion drops dramatically.

  • Post-purchase support

Anytime someone buys your product, you want them to turn into repeat customers. That’s where post-purchase follow-up and support come into play. Did they find your product faulty? You should be there to answer their questions and offer assistance as fast as possible. You might also want to suggest other products they might be interested in based on their purchase history to encourage them to interact with your brand. 

How can you improve your customer touch points?

As you keep track of your customer journey, it’s essential to analyze the performance of each touch point and identify areas for improvement. You can achieve this through the following ways:

  • Identify the needs of your customers

Customers are unique in their own ways and would like an experience tailored to their various needs. It’s up to you to identify the different types of personas you’ll come across and the kind of help they might need. What products are they looking for? Do they want quick support through live chat? What questions do they have? As you develop a customer interaction strategy for your business, ensure you address these questions to make every point of the journey hassle-free. For some business models, live chat might be prohibitively expensive. If you are selling high-dollar items, on the other hand, you might be willing to invest in real-time support to help move them through the purchase process.

  • Leverage self-help

Often, customers prefer finding solutions to their problems without necessarily interacting with your agents. Reading a knowledge base article that answers their questions can be more efficient than submitting a ticket and then waiting for a response. Therefore, it’s essential to enrich your support website with knowledge base content that’s useful to your customers. 

  • Ask for feedback

Don’t wait until a customer publishes a negative review about your product so that you reach out to them. Instead, let them tell you about their experience with your brand during the journey to address the issues early. You can embed a link to the feedback form in your response email to ask them about their experience with your support team and any suggestions they have to make the experience better.

How an omnichannel support platform like iService helps to improve customer touch points

More than 90% of your customers use multiple channels to interact with your business, even when it involves making a single purchase decision. They still expect consistent interaction across all these channels as they assume you already know what they need the moment they get in touch with you. By adopting an omnichannel support approach, your business can interact with customers through their preferred channel without interrupting the flow of communication. iService allows you to store your customer conversations in a single integrated history so that your support team always has context for the next interaction. Whether a customer engages with your business via email, live chat, or form submission, they’ll always get a uniform experience.

Every time a customer interacts with your brand along their journey determines how they perceive your brand. Therefore, knowing your customer touch points and taking the necessary steps to improve your customer satisfaction is key. 

Delighting consumers and driving efficiency with Omnichannel support

In recent years, the customer engagement space has changed remarkably. As companies seek ways to improve customer experience, silo support channels are becoming a thing of the past. Most people are now shifting to omnichannel customer service to deliver a great support experience. According to a report by Digital Commerce, 86% of customers expect you to know them as they interact with your team across multiple channels, and that’s best achieved with an omnichannel support platform. Why? Because all communication channels are synchronized to deliver consistent customer service. 

Sounds like something you might want to implement? Well, it’s time you bring your omnichannel vision to action. But first, let’s understand what omnichannel support is all about and how it adds value to your business. 

What’s Omnichannel Support?

Omnichannel support entails providing a unified experience to customers across multiple channels such as live chat, email, phone, and social media. It means taking an integrated approach to deliver a high-value experience across all your customers’ touch points. With omnichannel support a customer can start a conversation on one channel whenever they want, and continue in any other channel integrated within the platform. Omnichannel platforms, like iService, allow you to store your customer conversations in a single integrated history so that your support team always has context for the next interaction. 

A properly implemented omnichannel strategy not only helps you to understand your customer journey but also their conversation history so that you deliver a personalized support experience every time they interact with your brand. Taking an omnichannel approach is essentially a win-win for both your customers and your support agents. 

How to Build Real-Time Omnichannel Customer Experience

Now that you know what omnichannel support is all about, how do you get started? 

It can take quite a lot of effort to integrate separate support channels into one unified experience. However, with the right omnichannel platform you should be able to implement your strategy in no time. Adopting a platform that integrates all your support channels in one place is the key to delivering consistent experience to your customers. 

Here’s what you should consider to deliver a winning omnichannel customer experience.

Map the Customer Journey

Mapping out the customer journey is the very first thing you should consider if you choose to take the omnichannel approach. It’s essential to understand the customer journey and identify the various touch points with your team and your brand. For instance, at what point do most customers tend to fall off the journey? Do they abandon your shopping cart? Do they research your space, and then return after submitting questions? With this type of information, you’ll be able to determine the digital touchpoints required and the necessary actions to take to acquire new customers as well as retain existing ones. 

Go for Tools That Support Omnichannel Service

Before you even think of implementing an omnichannel strategy you should invest in the right tools for seamless integration. Having tools like live chat and an easy to navigate support center on your website ensures conversations are linear and customers are well connected. In that way, your customers or prospects can start a conversation with your brand on the channel they prefer. For instance, if an email response is taking too long, they might go for live chat support or make a call if that’s supported on your website. Or, they might find the answer quickly in your knowledge base and then move on to completing their purchase.

Build a Strong Customer Feedback Loop

As an entity, it’s essential to improve your product based on the feedback you receive from customers. Therefore, strengthening your feedback loop is a great way to enhance the omnichannel customer experience. Listening to your customers’ needs and complaints will help you refine your omnichannel strategy to offer a better experience across all communication channels. 

An omnichannel solution, like iService, provides opportunities to gather feedback on your interactions. Since the feedback is directly tied to agent responses, you can get a deep understanding of your customer’s expectations and your service levels.

Identify the Most Preferred Channels

Like every other business, you have a target audience and as you try to discover their needs, it’s essential to identify their preferred channels. As you do this, be sure to include both reactive and proactive channels so as to build a complete omnichannel support system that users find intuitive. If you already have an omnichannel system in place, it’s essential to review existing channels to find out which is the most preferred. In that way, you’ll keep up with the changing needs of your target audience.

Omnichannel Support Best Practices

As you plan to improve your customer experience by adopting the omnichannel support approach, it’s important to equip yourself with some of the best practices in this space to maximize your gains.  

Let’s dive deeper into this!

Provide More Self-Service Options

Nowadays, most customers prefer getting solutions for their issues without necessarily reaching out to your support team. Being able to search for the answer and fix the problem whenever they want saves them a lot of time. If anything, more than two-thirds of customers prefer searching for answers from a well-built and reliable knowledge base to asking questions through other service channels. Therefore,  making your common answers accessible to customers in a knowledge base is a great way to educate them about your brand and answer their questions. 

Use Live Chat

Some customers might look for help just before buying an item, and live chat can be the fastest way to interact with them in such cases. Typically, live chat ensures less waiting time and offers the convenience of immediate assistance, which improves the customer experience. With live chat support, your agents can also personalize your customer’s buying experience at any point of their purchase journey. They can direct the customer to a specific page, and the customer has a written summary for future reference. 

Offer a Personalized Experience Through Emails

Email is still the preferred channel by most  customers, especially when the question is not urgent. By providing quick, personalized responses you build their trust in your brand. How do you do this? Addressing customers by their first name is a great way to connect with them. It makes them feel you understand their needs and they’ll be more than willing to interact with your brand. 

Would you like to build long-term customer relations? Adopting an omnichannel support strategy is the way to go. Let your agents access customer conversations across all channels in a centralized place for a customized experience.