Deliver Experiences that Customers Desire — It all Starts with the Data.

Adobe Stock / Sergey Nivens

by Nate Smith

posted on 01-16-2018

When the National Australia Bank (NAB) began offering online banking services more than ten years ago, most customers preferred to engage with just one channel for all their banking needs, and desktop was the cutting-edge way to reach customers. Since that time, mobile has overturned desktop in commercial banking. In fact, 60 percent of NAB’s digital access is now happening on mobile platforms. Today, entire industries risk being wiped out by a well-designed app. Why? With digital disruption came increased consumer expectations of how brands should provide value in their moments of need, and the era of the experience business began.

For players in the financial industry, like NAB, maintaining customers through excellent experiences is perhaps even more important than it is for other industries. Think about the form factor change that has happened. With mobile apps, we now have a teller in our pockets, which is great for customer experience, but not so great for product cross-sell with very limited real-estate. Yes, traditionally, banks have relied on long-term relationships with their customers for revenue, as opposed to retailers and others who have traditionally been more transactionally focused, but leave engagement completely up to the dictation of customers. As business enters the experience era, brands in all industries that can build compelling experiences for their customers are doing more than raising expectations, they are gaining a new competitive advantage, and winning in the marketplace.

For NAB to gain and build experience-based relationships with today’s customers, they need lots of data, and powerful analytics capabilities. However, with so many channels and touchpoints, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of information while trying to build customer profiles that are accurate and actionable. To sift through that ocean, businesses need to implement a data and analytics framework that can help them discover and understand who their customers really are, and what types of engagement they desire for entertainment, utilitarian, or informational needs in moments that matter.

The good news is that you don’t have to boil the ocean to understand your customers, and navigate future marketing campaigns. You can start small, and then expand your efforts. Here are four steps to help you build and deliver on a 360-degree customer view:

Break through silos and integrate your data.

This is easier said than done, but is an absolute must when building a system of record for customer intelligence. Businesses develop silos as a way to concentrate expertise or related information, but people working within silos tend not to look outside. This leads to teams that don’t have the holistic vision to create seamless, polished customer experiences that span the entire customer journey. It also leads to data hoarding, which can prevent companies from building accurate profiles of their customers that can be used in systems of action for content or ad optimization.

John Beebe, director of digital advertising and analytics at General Motors Co., spoke about GM’s silos struggles. “When it came to marketing performance analytics — which I define as the action and reaction between GM and our customers — we were amazingly siloed.” Excellent customer experiences require expertise from across the organization — including marketing, sales, service, and IT — to support every aspect of the experience, meaning siloed teams can’t compete.

For GM, removing data roadblocks provided “a view of the customer that allowed internal stakeholders to optimize their business decisions,” says John. Prior to this, he explains that the company’s various teams were producing an enormous amount of data, but that data wasn’t being integrated to give them a full, complete picture of the customer.

This is a common problem for brands that have adopted new solutions. As products are used for individual team needs — as opposed to one platform with integrated solutions — they end up in team-based silos over the course of several years — sometimes decades. The result? Irrelavant experiences, and significant waste in marketing spend, due to incomplete customer journey views as teams respond to consumers from within these silos.

To resolve this at GM, John formed a global analytics team that reached through these silos to pool data and draw new conclusions. Having an open platform that could ingest and integrate populations of data was critical in forming a base from which customer profiles could be drawn. The result was an ability to easily offer relevant content to audiences the brand had previously found difficult to reach. GM also identified its most effective media and content, and developed 25 highly targeted, multi-channel messages for key audiences.

Layer on data sources for actionable insights.

Many brands operate under the assumption that more data is better data. This isn’t necessarily false, but it is not strategic, and can actually introduce more problems. Many brands collect everything they can, and end up drowning in data that they can’t make sense of, thereby crippling their ability to make data-driven decisions.

On the other hand, some brands try to avoid data overload by greatly limiting what they collect. As a result, they don’t gather enough data to surface any actionable insights. Instead of gathering everything or hardly anything, brands need to start small and build up.

A good place to start this process is with owned, first-party digital data. By combining two data sets — web and email, for instance — brands can connect pre-click campaign data with post-click site activity, and draw out new insights without having to gather new data.

NAB started small by reviewing their portfolio of digital assets. In this review, they discovered where and how customers interacted with them online and by mobile. By combining those two data sets, and building on that knowledge, NAB developed new assets to deliver more of the content customers wanted, and then started refreshing and updating that content regularly. For example, by testing and optimizing their online application designs, they increased conversions by 45 percent, and saw a 3000 percent increase in completed yearly credit card applications.

Look internally and externally for valuable data.

As you build upon your initial data foundation, you will need to broaden your sources. Your initial data will come from first-party sources, like your customer management software, website analytics, customer-satisfaction surveys, your internal databases, and any other data you already own.

The next layer of data comes from second-party sources. Second-party data typically comes from partners and affiliates. For example, an airline may share data with a credit card to meet the interests of mutual customers. You have less control over this data because you aren’t collecting it yourself. Still, adding it to your existing customer view helps to broaden the depth and scope of your understanding of your customers’ behaviors, thereby giving you more insight into the kinds of experiences you need to provide to build long-term relationships.

The final layer comes from third-party sources. These are big-data collection firms like Acxiom or Ad Networks. This data can further broaden your customer view across domains and customer traits. From this data, you’ll learn more about what your target customers are doing, even when they aren’t interacting with you or your partners. This additional information can help you gear your content toward previously unknown interests in your target customers, increasing the value your content provides them.

Scottrade is an example of layering data to uncover and meet customer needs via insights derived from a 360-degree view. In the rollout of its integrated data management solution, Scottrade broke through the silos around paid, earned, shared, and owned channels, and integrated that data with external data to build a complete view of its marketing impact. As a result, Scottrade can now correlate 95 percent of marketing touches with asset movements, and better predict the business outcomes of specific activities. Because Scottrade has a 360-degree view of its customers, it can produce the right content to provide value to those customers, and strengthen long-term relationships.

****Finish strong — use your data to deliver the right experience.

NAB used its data to learn what kind of content its customers wanted — and at what frequency. GM pulled down silos to combine data, and build a unified view of its customers, thereby reaching segments the company couldn’t reach before. Scottrade harnessed its data to crack the code around how its activities influenced customer outcomes.

None of these businesses used the same data to do the same thing, but all of them had an end goal, and used available data sources — both internal and external — to achieve their goals. The best data-gathering frameworks focus on building comprehensive, 360-degree views of customers to help companies find a path to achieve customer-experience goals, and build long-term relationships with customers.

To build relationships through personalized experiences, companies need to understand their customers well enough to know what they care about most — and how those cares can change over time. By combining data from different silos and sources into a centralized, 360-degree view of the customer, companies can provide real value to those customers through quality experiences, thereby strengthening customer relationships for the long-term.

Read more in our #KnowYourCustomers series

Topics: Digital Transformation

Products: Analytics