MARKET | May 4, 2017

When customer experience passes through data

Analysis of Big Data, Sentiment Analysis and Machine Learning allied to improve customer experience

Today, companies lose 62 billion dollars a year due to poor customer service; in 2013, the loss was only 20 billion dollars, according to data from a NewVoiceMedia survey in 2016.

Unfortunately, most companies still face serious difficulties in organizing and analyzing the increasing volume of data they collect about customers and this makes it more difficult to really know them and offer them a personalized experience.

Customer dissatisfaction is growing

Back in 2015, an Accenture survey  highlighted that about two-thirds of users had changed their brand buying preferences due to inadequate customer service. This trend is confirmed by the data of a recent international survey commissioned by Talend, which involved consumers and corporate IT managers, highlighting the significant gap between customer expectations and what is actually offered by companies. In fact, 49% of respondents said they had changed company precisely because of the inefficiency of customer service; furthermore almost 70% of these had done it more than once and on more than one occasion due to numerous customer service shortcomings. Fifty percent of respondents stated that the main reason for “breaking” with a brand was the lack of attention in properly handling a negative review or statement, for example by sending the same user offers for products similar to the one that had been criticized. But the other causes most cited by consumers as having led to disaffection also include computer attacks on the company resulting in breach of data (53%) and lack of real-time support and direct contact management (42%).

The consumer survey showed that online reviews have become the new “word of mouth” for many companies: 40% indicated that forums have the most impact on purchases of a certain importance, counting for almost twice the importance of advice from friends and relatives.

 Data? Insufficiently appreciated

The study revealed that, despite the large amount of data available on customer behavior and buying choices, and in the face of significant investments, about 80% of companies in the sample indicated that IT budgets have grown over the past five years precisely in order to improve customer experience and customer relationship management (CRM). And while 88% of IT managers believed that their organization is able to interpret customer needs, only 61% of consumers believed that companies really understand their needs.

Although most companies recognize the importance of data in strategic management, too many companies are still not analyzing the impact that consumer-focused initiatives can have on increasing market share and boosting customer loyalty.  Some time ago, Oracle’s Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality? report had pointed out that over 60% of businesses did not include data collected from social interactions or CRM within their own customer analytics, whereas instead there would be a need for greater alignment among the marketing, sales and services sectors. Many companies do not systematically follow feedback from the customer base despite the considerable investment by IT managers in adopting customer support tools.  Slightly less than 50% of Talend’s sample are implementing elementary parameters for measuring customer satisfaction such as online reviews (which are used only by 36%), sentiment analysis on social media (43%) and verification and analysis of post-purchase comments (50%).

What can companies do?

Overall, the survey suggests that there is still room for improvement by companies in more effective use of data in order to better understand and respond to customer needs. Sixty-three percent of the IT audience interviewed indicated the use of data to better understand customers as a priority, while for 80% of companies data use is ranked eighth on a 10-point scale.

IT companies recognize the importance of allowing access to customer data to a larger number of employees: 80% of the companies interviewed said they make customer data available to multiple business units. Because Big Data and cloud solutions improve customer acquisition and loyalty, they could become increasingly competitive assets. Companies should therefore leverage the optimization of customer and data management tools to keep pace with ever-evolving consumer needs in order to deliver high-level services and maintain a competitive edge.

2017 promises to be a year of major transformations in the world of e-commerce, where the biggest transformation is likely to be the one that will invest Customer Experience, in the relationship between businesses and consumers. If 2016 was the year of chatbots, 2017 will be the year of communication between the company and the customer that should lead to the collection of information that can improve the customer experience.

According to Forrester , investments in the field of Artificial Intelligence will triple in 2017: new conversational models will enable optimization interactions between users and systems capable of understanding natural language, with chatbots becoming less and less tools of support and more and more of guidance and advice for the consumer.

Will Big Data Analysis, AI and Machine Learning succeed in understanding customers better and making them more satisfied?

Emma Pietrafesa