Positive vibes only: reduce your reliance on complex tools and leverage your loyalty data to lift your customer experience
Over the past few years we’ve seen a move to really prioritise customer experience. In 2021, customer service leaders reported that the expectations of customers were at an all-time high and that, mostly, they didn’t have the resources to meet them.
HubSpot’s Annual State of Service in 2022 report noted that among the three top challenges for customer service leaders in 2022 were:
- too many tools, seen as adding more complexity than value, and
- poor prioritisation that made their customer care appear inconsistent.
Data experts here at DCA were not surprised to hear it. For years, technology has promised us that we can go faster and do better with less work. But in reality, we’ve found that digital transformations are rarely the idealised experience we might hope. Speaking of pragmatic, rather than ideal, business circumstances, it’s common that different pieces of technology are implemented piecemeal and badly integrated—and this has been especially true following the wild rush to move operations to remote locations during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
The problems caused by piecemeal and ad hoc solutions, poor or no integration, and the associated double and triple handling of information by staff are all likely to result in what was reported as the third of those top three major challenges: “Not enough time in the day!”
And then there’s loyalty.
The term “loyalty” has two definitions that are relevant here: firstly, it’s a quality that describes the emotional relationship between a consumer and a brand; secondly, it’s a series of practices that form a program in your business.
Everyone wants loyal customers. Aside from being the reliable purchasers who form the backbone of your market, it’s also cheaper to retain them than it is to reach new customers. A top percentage of loyal customers will even become that most valuable thing: brand ambassadors, who offer social proof to their networks as to the value of your product or service. And consensually using the data that your customers give you via your loyalty program will help you know more about your best customers.
But you’ll notice that, on the outside, these appear to be two separate issues. Firstly, tools and prioritisation are a challenge to customer experience. Secondly, loyalty represents a key opportunity to learn, iterate, and provide amazing customer experience. Where do they intersect? One word: Data.
Data is foundational to loyalty, customer experience, the effectiveness of your technological tools and frankly your bottom line.
How do you reduce your reliance on those costly and unnecessary tools?
Yes, it’s worth taking a moment out to talk about those amazing technologies and tools that are adding complexity without adding value.
Sometimes, tools are shiny objects that get purchased based on their slick appearance and the outcomes they might provide to some imagined, different business. Even tools that are useful, when not implemented correctly within your business, can create extra administrative work without offering much in return—and the solution to that problem isn’t always to install another new tool or module.
Our advice? Go back to basics: make sure you have clear goals, critically assess the tools you’re using to achieve them, and maximise your use of the data at your disposal to ensure you’re meeting those ever-rising customer expectations.
Review your goals: Re-examine your organisation’s values, vision, mission and strategy and set SMART goals. Chances are, those goals will have a lot to do with the kind of customer experience your business wants to provide, and that’s great. Make sure these goals actually reach all levels of your organisation. Your most junior staff still have to be able to follow your policies knowledgeably and autonomously—and there’s no point having great, clear goals if nobody knows what they are. When you’ve revisited those goals, it’s time to assess the capabilities and costs o your current tools. If they’re not well aligned with your goals, it’s put the wheels in motion to axe them.
Use the right solutions the right way: Some of the tools you’re already using might be the right ones for this job—a great CRM system, for example, is invaluable to a lot of businesses, and wouldn’t likely be on the “axe” list. But it’s still easy to use a great CRM system poorly! It comes down to what data you store, how it’s managed, and how you’re using it. This is where your loyalty system comes in, by the way.
Use your loyalty data: A loyalty program is a biased sampling of your customers: usually, they’re your best customers, the ones who get the most out of what the program offers! These customers are likely to be pretty similar to those you really want to target in the broader population. More knowledge about those customers allows you to segment and personalise to deliver your most ideal customers a really great experience. Instead of the spray and pray approach to marketing, you can laser-focus in on those segments of the population that represent the strongest ROI for your business. (Not sure about how segmenting works? We have a great blog about where to start with customer profiling that might help.)
And don’t forget to keep it clean: Even with clear policies and well-trained staff, data degrades. There are a lot of different estimates about how fast that degradation happens: reports suggest anywhere from 22% per year to 70% per year depending on factors like the industry, the kind of data kept, and what data quality framework is used for assessment. This is why regular data cleansing and data validation are recommended. The frequency will depend on similar factors: what kind of data you’re using, your processes, the size of your database. With regard to those factors, however, a database usually needs to be cleaned up every 6—12 months.