2013: The Year of Intelligent Customer Experience

By: Sid Banerjee

January 9, 2013

It’s that time of year again. The time when industry experts come out of the woodwork to predict what will happen in the market for the following year. Yes, I am doing the same. Not because “everyone else is doing it,” but because I truly believe that the CEM market is on the cusp of major change. Change for the better. Change that will revolutionize the way that companies learn from and interact with their customers. That is why I’m calling 2013 the “Year of Intelligent Customer Experience.”

But let’s take a step back and start from the beginning. It is no secret that customers are talking about exactly what they like and don’t like about your company over thousands of outlets. While it used to be enough for your business to simply listen to customer-feedback data and then act on it internally, this is no longer the case. If your business wants to not only survive, but thrive, in today’s fiercely competitive market, it has to take its customer experience initiative to the next level. The “Year of Intelligent Customer Experience” means that the CEM industry will enable your business to pull content from more sources, leverage more powerful analytics and intelligently use customer-feedback findings to improve the business. Let me break this down in more detail …

Sources: More Content, Better Understanding

Historically, customer feedback has been pulled from multi-channel text – things like emails, surveys, chats and social media outlets. While this type of data has provided a wealth of information about the customer – and given organizations an invaluable avenue for not only improving their businesses, but improving customer relationships – there is still much more content out there that can be collected and analyzed.

The customer is a complex, unique individual. The future of the CEM industry will include sourcing all qualitative and structured content to get an even more detailed understanding of who the customer really is. This includes things like images, videos, audio files, information about click-throughs, unique transactions and online profiles, to name just a few. Infusing traditional data with more qualitative, structured content will bring such a deeper view into the individual – the person – behind the customer.

Better Analytics, Better Understanding

Now that you have the additional content, what are you going to do with it? The technology available in the CEM industry is strong, but it will only get stronger in terms of analytics. With more sophisticated analytics, you get a better understanding of sentiment and customer influence. Who is influencing who in the social sphere? What happens next once a customer says something? What is the root cause of an issue? What is the best approach to rectifying a situation?

Stronger analytics also enables you to separate the actionable from the non-actionable. Helping your organization make sense of what is irrelevant and what you need to focus on.

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More content leads to better customer insights. So what is the next piece of the puzzle? Translating insights into actions is ultimately what really matters. Organizations must not only listen to their consumers, but also treat them as valued business stakeholders by engaging in a timely, open dialogue with them and then operationalizing the insights across all functions of the business.

Once feedback is identified and categorized, it is channeled to the appropriate internal stakeholder (and this stakeholder can either be in the office or mobile) – who can then interact directly with the consumer AND take the appropriate next steps within the business to take action to improve processes and make changes that will be positive for the customer and for the bottom line.

Imagine a manager at an electronics store, for example. Her position requires her to be very mobile, attending to issues throughout the store, monitoring processes in the warehouse and working directly with customers. If she is working in the television department, she can be alerted in real-time to a Tweet or post about a customer complaint in her store. Due to mobile, field-reporting capabilities, the manager can then respond in real-time and work to correct the problem in the future. Say a customer was complaining about lack of help in the cell phone department. The manager can respond ensuring that the customer will be helped shortly and make sure that more staff is present in the future. It’s all about proactively interactive with consumers to promoted more meaningful customer relationships.