Rising Above: How to Use Data to Improve Your Customer’s Experience

By: Kate Zimmerman

August 10, 2015

customer experience management
Social Engagement
social listening

A shift is occurring among customers today. As the worldwide network of data grows to 1 trillion devices producing 2.5 gigabytes of data every day, the expectations surrounding how companies use it are changing. The vast majority of customers, 75%, want retailers to use their personal data to improve their shopping experience. This is a huge turnaround from the privacy fears that we saw in the past.

Forrester analysts Tony Costa and Corey Stearns recently released a brief, How Customer Data Elevates Experiences, where they dove into this potential customer experience gold mine. Many companies are already collecting this data; however, most companies are missing an opportunity to improve their customers’ experiences by using it appropriately.

Understanding your customers is an important component of delivering relevant experiences. If you can identify the preferences of your customers, you can make changes to your brand to meet their needs. These preferences can be found in the multitude of data sources that companies can refer to on their customers. These data sources include their user profiles, affinity and affiliations, sentiment, behaviors, content, and context.

Make sure you are looking out for unmet needs. If you’re only asking your customers how they feel about past experiences in a survey, you are missing potential. Make sure that you are looking at unsolicited customer feedback as well. This feedback lives on third party review sites, social media, and any other place where your customers are talking about you without you specifically asking for feedback.

Customer data can also improve the delivery of your current services and products. Understanding certain habits of your customers allows you to automate systems or processes to make the experience seamless for your customers.

Nest is a fantastic example of this. I have a Nest in my condo and it quickly learned my schedule, including weekday vs. weekend, and automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly. Not only have I saved a tremendous amount of money, the house is also consistently comfortable and I can rest easy knowing that I’m not wasting any energy. Nest even thought so far as to realize that many times you want to make changes before you get home. When I land at the airport after a vacation, I can turn on the AC through their app so that the house is cool and inviting when I get home.

Another example of the effective use of customer data is my Wells Fargo ATM experience. Pretty much the only thing I do at an ATM is get cash—when I stop at a Wells Fargo ATM the first option is to withdraw my standard amount of cash. This simple automation makes my experience so much easier and faster!

Data can also be used in real time. With surveys, for example, you can prioritize the feedback and address issues immediately. If you see that a customer complained about being unable to find something, you could alert the appropriate store and redirect that customer before the sale is lost. 21c Hotels is using Clarabridge Survey to do just that. They have listened to their customer feedback to make changes to room design, and even keep profiles of individual users so that they can adjust their stay the next time they come.

Traditionally, emotion and data seem like two opposite ends of the spectrum, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Data can be used to understand the preferences of your customers, which allows for more empathetic customer experiences.  For example, if you know one of your older customers always contacts you over the phone, they would probably be more receptive to a phone survey than an email one. Knowing this can put your customer at ease and make them feel more comfortable towards your brand.

Companies already have access to most of this data. Rethinking how you use it can really separate the good from the great in customer experience. The bar is moving higher and expectations are changing—use that to your advantage to rise above your competitors and become the best at customer experience.

To learn more about how Customer Data Elevates Experience, check out our complimentary Forrester report.



Kate Zimmerman is a Product Marketing Associate at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.