In a time when consumers have unprecedented access to reams of data about an organization – from Facebook posts to forum reviews – companies must be more prepared than their empowered customers when they dial up call centers or access other corporate touch points.
Bolstering the customer experience across multiple channels is one of the most often mentioned benefits of mining the treasure trove of information buried within big data.
Take AT&T, for example, which is aiming for an effortless customer experience, according to Phil Bienert, senior vice president of digital experience at AT&T. One of the biggest challenges to delivering a positive customer experience is staying ahead of customer expectations in a market mired in one of the largest changes in consumer behavior in history, he adds.
“Customers interact with AT&T across many touch points – online, mobile apps, our call centers and more than 2,300 retail stores – and it’s essential that we make all of these interactions seamless,” Bienert says. “From formal surveys to digital analytics to social media to crowd sourcing, we’re constantly gathering feedback from our customers in a number of different areas to ensure we’re continuing to improve.”
AT&T is not the only business behemoth that has set its sights on surfing the tsunami of customer data now accessible online from social networks and other sources. Ford Motor Co. has opened a new laboratory to help the company better understand how analyzing big data can help it learn more about how drivers use their cars – vital information that can be fed back into everything from marketing campaigns to improving vehicle safety features.
A majority of senior corporate marketing executives (91%) believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions, according to a study from the Columbia School of Business.
Yet, 39% say their own companies’ data is collected too infrequently or too slowly for them to turn that data into actionable information. The report notes that one of the biggest obstacles to turning data into actionable insight may be a lack of effective data sharing across departments and divisions of the company.
In the past, sales, marketing, manufacturing, supply chain and every other department within a company might each have had a separate dataset, which it managed separately. Now, the promise of big data analytics is based on the ability to link these datasets together to better understand the interactions between the firm, its customer, and its business partners, according to the report.
In order to leverage the opportunities of big data, the report suggests marketers need to better:
- Collect meaningful customer data – including real-time data – from a variety of sources
- Link that data to metrics developed for measuring marketing ROI
- Share data across the organization, linking datasets together at the customer level
- Utilize this shared data to effectively target and personalize marketing efforts to customers